Monday, April 16, 2007

VA Tech Shooting - let the politicking begin

First off, my condolences to the victims' families. Words cannot express the sense of loss they will continue to feel for the rest of their lives. May those injured recover speedily.

Once the dust settles, and the police complete their investigations, there will undoubtedly be the chorus from the Brady Campaign and others to restrict firearms ownership. Simply put, my response is that first off, someone needs to be over 18 to legally purchase a pistol or "assault firearm" in the state of Virginia (see Brady Campaign Link for VA). VA Tech's spokesman Larry Hincker was quoted on January 31, 2006 in the Roanoke Times commenting on the bill to allow firearms on VA Tech's campus being defeated, "I'm sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly's actions because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus." (link) I wonder what his comment is now.

Sadly, the possession ban goes both ways here. Had there been a student or security guard, who, either as duty or private citizen with a CCW permit (carry concealed weapons) were armed, this person could have been in a position in intervene. Similarly, the shooter could have felt emboldened by a weapons ban in the area he was committing the massacre.

The rules did not protect the people. They made them helpless to respond instead.

Also, stricter gun controls have had a poor record of stopping massacres of this nature. One can recall the Dawson College shooting in Montreal, Canada, where a lone gunman armed with a pistol and a carbine killed one woman and injured 19 others. Canada has very strict gun control laws, specifically with regards to semi-automatic weapons and pistols. This did not stop the perpetrator in that case - he complied with all laws in question.

Same happened in 2002 in Erfurt, Germany. Again, strict gun laws in effect, and the shooter nonetheless managed to legally acquire the firearms used. Germany has since raised the minimum age for firearms, with questionable effect. Smaller scale incidents continue to happen in Germany with starting regularity - a simple Google search for the German word used to describe this sort of action ("Amoklauf", i.e. running amok) shows this.

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