Wednesday, April 18, 2007

what now?

It didn't take more than a few hours before the blaming began. In the best cases, it quickly turned to serious analysis - what could have been done differently or how do we keep it from happening again.

In what strikes me as the most bizarre line of reasoning, I have heard and read a couple of folk argue that it was restrictive gun laws that caused this. If every student at Virginia Tech had been carrying a handgun, no crazy could get away with killing 32 people.

While that may be true, the number of deaths both purposeful and accidental would be much, much higher. Think of the places in the world where virtually everyone has a gun (Iraq for one). Does that make people safer? Remember the Wild Wild West where people carried guns and became laws unto themselves. Imagine the next weekend frat blow out only this time, put guns in the hands of all of the guys, drunk way past good judgment and filled with testosterone.

Yes, people kill people, but it is a lot easier with a Glock 9 than with one's bare hands. And once the trigger is pulled, there is no turning back.

But what about the law? The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence gives Virginia a C- for its gun laws (ahead of 32 states that get D's or F's). Cho showed a state driver's license and a checkbook with the same address on it along with an immigration card. The gun shops did an instant background check were the police verified that he was not convicted of a felony, involved in a domestic restraining order, convicted of a domestic misdemeanor, or had a dishonorable discharge from the military. When he passed these criteria, he purchased one handgun in a 30 day period and ammo and walked out. He was not checked for mental illness, other serious misdemeanors which may even have involved use of a gun, or even if he was on a terrorist watch list. The guns he purchased were semi-automatic with clips between 10 & 15 bullets. So he could shoot at least 20 times, as fast as he could move his finger, reload in a second or two and begin again. The guns themselves are not designed for hunting deer or rabbits but are good only for shooting at targets... or people.

The second amendment says,
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed

It is an interesting amendment. It is conditional. The reason that people have the right to bear arms is to form a "well regulated militia." What does owning a semi-automatic handgun have to do with a well regulated militia?

I have no problems with hunters or even target shooters. In either case, the guns involved are very different from those used solely against people. Assault rifles, automatic pistols, and semi-automatic pistols should be outlawed. They are not used in hunting and they are not necessary for target shooting. Waiting periods should be put in place for all purchases. Ammunition should be regulated. The size of clips should be regulated. We must end this love affair with weapons whose only real purpose is to kill people.

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