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Virginia Tech today

This quote is from a year ago, January.

Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker was happy to hear the bill was 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.”

And this editorial was written last August.

We must give due criticism to the University for its decisions that put students in greater danger than was necessary. By that I am not so much referring to the decision to allow morning classes to take place, but rather the decades-old policy that prohibits students, faculty and staff from legally carrying firearms on campus. This ban even goes so far as to include those who have valid Concealed Handgun Permits.

For those of you who have not heard yet, 32 people died at Virginia Tech today.

Here was Virginia Tech’s solution to a mass killer on campus.

78 comments to Virginia Tech today

  • Midwesterner

    Right now, I am for the first time I can remember in years, shaking with anger. It took me several attempts to even get this post typed. If I have offended you, that is your defective values.

    If you are not angry at the chain of causes that led to this, you are sick. If you would see this information suppressed so that this can happen again

  • Could we at least wait until the bodies are in the ground before starting up the gun control debate?

  • (Just to be clear, I’m for gun ownership, and I agree with your position. I just think that it’s too early to politicize this.)

  • Furthermore: using this to support the removal of gun control laws is rather illogical.

    I could haul out the same old statistics about gun crime in the US versus the UK or the rest of the world, and the number of firearms-related homicides, but you know about that.

    If you want to see where the ‘everyone being armed is safer’ mentality leads, I guess you could look at how safe people are from this type of thing in Iraq. Most people young and old certainly seem to be enjoying the liberal gun laws over there.

    Instead of bleating about guns one way or another (and there will be a lot of bleating in the opposing direction, no doubt), this is an opportunity to consider how a society of free individuals can improve itself so that people like this don’t end up expressing themselves with a belt of ammunition.

    I would suggest one basic issue is that there is very little of what you might call “common decency” left, although I hate the term. But who stops to help someone else in obvious need any more? Who is polite, who extends basic courtesy, who looks at a stranger and wonders if they’re really ok or if they need some help? I’d be willing to bet that there was a point where the shooter could have been brought back from the brink by a minimal display of understanding and human kindness, but it was not forthcoming.

    Changing these things might well do a lot more than everyone packing magnums in Physics 101.

  • RAB

    To early to politicise it ? To late mate! It’s already off and running.
    I just saw an American being interviewed about this on Newsnight. He was from something like the citizens defence league (sorry to be vague) who when he said that if those students had been armed then a lot more of them would be alive right now.
    The interviewer looked incredulous! Almost tried to back off down the table.
    You mean to say you think they would be alive if they were armed???
    Yes.
    This is the world according to the BBC
    I wholeheartedly share Mids anger and a few tears with the friends and relatives who couldn’t care less what a twat like me thinks on a night like this!!

  • Ham

    I am not an American, and I’ve never held a gun, but I share a lot of your anger. It’s an extremely emotive situation. Think of all those people who were robbed of the right to defend themselves who must have had to watch friends being shot to death without having the means to help.

  • Another issue: some lunatic is on the rampage with a gun. You have your concealed weapon, as per your wishes.

    So, what about the following scenarios:

    1. You’re in the coridoor and you hear shots. You pull your gun out and open the door into a classroom. As you do so, another student, also carrying a gun, comes in the opposite door. What do you do? Are they the shooter, or another vigilante? Do you have time to decide, or do you shoot them just in case?

    2. The police arrive. Their snipers see a student, carrying a gun, running between buildings on campus. What do they do?

    I’m not suggesting that, one-on-one, I wouldn’t like a gun too when faced with a loony on the rampage. But how do you deal with the above scenarios? If everyone pulls out firearms and starts blazing away, will this really reduce fatalities? There are pictures in the media of a reporter who was mistakenly arrested by the police – do you think that he’d be alive if he’d been armed?

  • Winzeler

    Thanks for the link to the shmuck talking about how people will feel safer on campus.

  • John K

    You are quite right Patrick, the policy of enforced victim disarmament worked well today, how foolish of us not to have realised it.

    I will accept victim disarmament the day Tony Blair dismisses his armed bodyguards and learns to live in fear like the rest of us.

  • You’re in the coridoor and you hear shots. You pull your gun out and open the door into a classroom

    Wrong. You do not draw your weapon in a not-at-home civilian self-defence situation until you are quite sure you need to shoot at someone right now.

  • RAB

    Patrick, It’s perfectly simple.
    If someone is shooting at me and I have a gun
    I shoot back.
    Now he may get me before I get him, but being a reasonable shot, I’d hope to slow the fucker up at least until he got to the next person, who also has a gun.
    He may get the next person too. But by person four, all armed, he is going down.
    Possible total 2 dead two wounded.
    This nutter managed 32 with just two 9mm handguns and no opposition whatever. By the time the “Authorities” were on the scene it was all over.
    Why can I not have a gun in my shoulder bag just like I have an ipod or a cell phone. I dont have to use any of them. But just in case, as is certainly the case with the cell phone, It may save my life in certain circumstances.

  • My sympathies go out to to all those involved.

  • MidWest

    I’m no fan of guns and i have always been one of those who couldn’t understand how Americans failed to see the link between their high gun homicide rate and the prevalence of guns.

    However, the persistent rise in handgun crime in the UK since they were banned after the Dunblane massacre has left me puzzled.

    I did some digging on the facts of gun crime a while ago and was horrified to see the reality so different to the image portrayed by the UK media and especially the BBC.

    I posted on it a while ago and have updated it here.

  • Perry – you really think that a typical cross-section of the general populace is going to obey your gun safety rules? This is always a problem in this debate – I’m happy for relatively sane, cautious individuals to have guns, not so happy for the Homer Simpsons to have the same (in public, they can shoot themselves at home as much as they want). And of course everyone thinks they fall into the former category.

    RAB, how do you know who is the shooter and who is merely defending themself, the same as you?

    I confess I am playing devil’s advocate to a certain extent. But I suggest that saying “this wouldn’t happen if everybody was packing” is a little naive.

  • RAB

    Shit patrick I’ll have to play that one by ear!
    You dont work for The Health and Safety Directive do you?
    The point is that is that if everyone is “Packing”
    Second thoughts become the order of the day in the minds of the bad guys.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    It’s not just just about carrying a weapon. The training and situational awareness for using a gun must also be inculcated. And we can generally assume that in a world of responsible adults, those who possess a firearm would also undego the requisite training.

    Unfortunately, the prevalence of gun control laws and Bateman’s nanny statist mindset has led to people who don’t even know what to do with a gun should it drop into their laps.

    *clear the weapon, safety on*

    TWG

  • Chris Harper (Counting Cats)

    Patrick,

    You deal with those scenarios by dealing with them, not by banning with them.

    Gun Safety? Easy peasy. You teach it. You got schools? Schools are private property, even when government owned. Teach the kids how to handle weapons as part of their education.

    Sure, you will always have hoons and bullies, but why is a colt 45 called the ‘equaliser’? These guys would learn fast.

    Think of it as evolution in action.

  • Unfortunately, the prevalence of gun control laws and Bateman’s nanny statist mindset has led to people who don’t even know what to do with a gun should it drop into their laps.

    Interestingly enough, despite my ‘nanny statist’ attitude I do know how to use a gun. Which means I also understand how incredibly dangerous they are.

    I do not believe that many libertarians have a compelling answer to the problem of how to deal with putting cheap, easily concealed devices which kill at the flick of a trigger, in the hands of the world at large. It seems to me to be one of the most basic examples of the problem which must be overcome by an anti-statist philosophy: how are actions which have a severe adverse effect on others to be controlled?

    And how, ideologically, do you draw a line as to what type of weapons are suitable for Joe average to exercise his freedom with? Automatics? Bazookas? Surface-to-air missiles? Nukes? Anthrax vials? In respect of any of these, prohibition on private entities controlling them is the “nanny state” you fear so much in action.

    I would like to know whether you consider the extremely high rate of gun-related violence in the US an acceptable price to pay? Or do you genuinely think it is unrelated to the proliferation of firearms?

    Think of it as evolution in action.

    I prefer my natural selection to move a little slower than 1500 m/s, personally.

  • Unfortunately, the prevalence of gun control laws and Bateman’s nanny statist mindset has led to people who don’t even know what to do with a gun should it drop into their laps.

    Interestingly enough, despite my ‘nanny statist’ attitude I do know how to use a gun. Which means I also understand how incredibly dangerous they are.

    I do not believe that many libertarians have a compelling answer to the problem of how to deal with putting cheap, easily concealed devices which kill at the flick of a trigger, in the hands of the world at large. It seems to me to be one of the most basic examples of the problem which must be overcome by an anti-statist philosophy: how are actions which have a severe adverse effect on others to be controlled?

    And how, ideologically, do you draw a line as to what type of weapons are suitable for Joe average to exercise his freedom with? Automatics? Bazookas? Surface-to-air missiles? Nukes? Anthrax vials? In respect of any of these, prohibition on private entities controlling them is the “nanny state” you fear so much in action.

    I would like to know whether you consider the extremely high rate of gun-related violence in the US an acceptable price to pay? Or do you genuinely think it is unrelated to the proliferation of firearms?

    Think of it as evolution in action.

    I prefer my natural selection to move a little slower than 1500 m/s, personally.

  • nick g.

    Hey, Patrick, If you’d read Pommygranate’s blog above, or read the book ‘Guns and Violence’, by Joyce Lee Malcolm, you’d realize that the US rate of gun-violence is not fantastically high. In fact, the UK, with much tighter restrictions, is catching up! It seems that criminals just have no respect for the law, and buy or get their guns illegally! Who’d have thought it? London, as well as becoming the financial capital of the world, is also becoming the gun capital. Is there anything the British can’t do, except win at cricket?
    All of this proves the point that being unarmed by law is bad for all. To further prove it, can anyone point to a contrary example, where armed students stopped a potential mass-murderer cold?

  • chip

    I’m from Canada and we embarked on a multi-billion dollar program to register all handguns in the country. As is the case in the UK, it has had no effect on gun crime, which continues to rise.

    A handgun is not a sophisticated technology. They’re easy to make and easy to smuggle. Banning them is like banning alcohol or weed. It’s illusory and, as we’ve seen today, quite dangerous.

    Instead of pursuing politically correct but ultimately useless policies, we should look at what works. And if you look at the stats, states that have passed right-to-carry laws have experienced the sharpest drops in violent crime.

    There is also much rhetoric regarding the US crime rate. The homicide rate is skewed by a high number of incidents in a few urban centers. Most of the states running along the Canadian border for example have the same or lower homicide rates than the neighboring Canadian province. The violent crime rate in Canada is higher than in the US, along with robbery, property crime and almost all other types of crime.

    Crime in the US is largely a function of urban Black culture, much like that in Brixton or Lambeth writ large. There is a cultural dynamic at work that is rarely addressed for fear of offending the thought police. If politicians really wanted to reduce gun crime they would address the destructive cultural characteristics of segments of the Black urban communities from Detroit to Toronto to London.

    But they shall never do so. Instead we’ll get more calls to disarm a farmer in Iowa, a hunter in Alberta or gun collector in Brighton. And nothing will change.

  • Stephan

    All these things aside, the point about Iraq does pose an interesting situation.. There is a country that is simply armed to the teeth. A huge number of Iraqi’s, not jsut the rebels and militia groups, but average people as well, carry a whole assortment of automatics weapons, handguns, rifles, and yes, even rpg’s and rocket launchers. Despite this, Baghdad is the worlds most violent city bar none. The same applies to most of the rest of Iraq. If freedom to bear arms means freedom from fear of most criminals, then what the fuck went wrong in Iraq? The answer is in part an obvious one methinks, but im curious about what all you folks think..

  • chip

    Switzerland is armed to the teeth too.

  • nick g.

    If all the Baghdadies were all equally armed to the teeth, and not just the militias with their own agendas, you’d have a valid point. Another mitigating factor is that Mohammed set an example of vengence, and ordering the killing of opponents, and as the Iraqi people are mainly Muslims, they will follow his teachings and examples.
    This is one of the many benefits of being raised in a Christian-derived society, where the state is supposed to take care of justice and vengence, and where the ideal (Not always practiced!!) is for state and church to be separate.

  • Brendan Halfweeg

    If the University is going to disarm me and make me essentially defenceless, then the least they could do is provide an armed campus police force to protect me. I hope some victim’s family sues their arse off for not protecting them AND preventing them from defending themselves, using the second ammendment as a basis. That would shake up the “why can’t we all just get along” crowd.

  • Brendan Halfweeg

    Stephen,

    Iraq does not currently enjoy the rule of law. It is not guns that lead to the violence in Iraq, but the lack of civil society. Guns and bombs may exacerbate the civil instability, but they do not cause it.

  • Yeah some retard reporter was politicising this at a press conference in the White House quite soon after it happens. The press in the UK is right now f**ing me off with their ignorance. They have yet to mention that they shooter was not even American.

  • They have yet to mention that they shooter was not even American.

    How do you know this?

  • J

    “Think of all those people who were robbed of the right to defend themselves who must have had to watch friends being shot to death without having the means to help.”

    Who was robbed? I’m pretty sure that going to Virginia Tech is voluntary. And I’m pretty sure you can find out about their gun control rules before you apply. The administrators of the college may be making a grave error in forbidding handguns on campus, but it’s wrong to characterize this as an offense against the students.

  • I heard an interview with one of the students who witnessed these terrible events this morning on The Today Programme. Guess what, they were calling for tighter gun control!
    We live in a society which is knobbled by its own morality; We see violence as abhorrent and unnecessary, and yet we need it to defend ourselves from it. Its a dichotomy which we are not capable of resolving individually, so we make it someone else’s problem. As a result people die. The ones calling for people to give up the right to defend themselves should be made to feel as guilty as those causing us to need to defend ourselves. Indirectly those calling for gun control are as responsible as if they had pulled the trigger themselves.
    As to relaxing gun laws, Chris I find myself in agreement with you, though such lessons being given at schools would require a complete rethink of what we teach our children. We would need to give up conditioning them to be subservient, economically useful, but expendable drones, and actually start teaching them to think for themselves.

  • Somewhat OT, but I just have to point to this.

    Patrick, as someone who knows how to use a gun, surely you also are aware of some very basic rules of handling it. I think what you have in mind is depriving most sane people of the means to protect themselves, to prevent a few nut cases from abusing theirs. Well, why don’t you extend such limitations to vehicle ownership, for example? (As a matter of fact, I am curious to see a comparison between gun violence and car accidents’ victim stats in various countries with different gun policies.) Note that by nut cases I mean both the killer in the current case, and you imaginary “hero” who is running around corridors with his weapon drawn. I purposely leave regular criminals out of this discussion, as they will get weapons and use them irrespective of the gun policy.

  • Richard Garner

    Who was robbed? I’m pretty sure that going to Virginia Tech is voluntary.

    And I’m pretty sure that choice of university is is hampered by monopolistic intervention by states.

  • It seems rather hypocritical of “Patrick Bateman” to pontificate about the tastefulness of posting on this subject, when he appears to have taken his name from the title character in “American Psycho”.

    I can’t find any “Patrick Bateman” on the blog linked in his name.

  • John K

    Chip,

    Handguns have been registered in Canada since 1934 or so. The latest registry which is causing so much grief and costing so many billions is meant to cover rifles and shotguns too. It is part of a statist mindset whereby everything must be listed and registered. Why statists believe that a firearm whose serial number is stored on a computer somewhere cannot be misused is a question I can’t answer.

  • Perry – you really think that a typical cross-section of the general populace is going to obey your gun safety rules?

    Cultures develop to solve exactly those problems. It is also why the US Second Amendment says “well regulated”.

    I do not believe that many libertarians have a compelling answer to the problem of how to deal with putting cheap, easily concealed devices which kill at the flick of a trigger, in the hands of the world at large.

    Yet armed societies abound, many of which have lower rates of gun crime than the UK, so clearly the problem is not ‘armed’ but rather ‘society’.

    And how, ideologically, do you draw a line as to what type of weapons are suitable for Joe average to exercise his freedom with? Automatics? Bazookas? Surface-to-air missiles? Nukes? Anthrax vials? In respect of any of these, prohibition on private entities controlling them is the “nanny state” you fear so much in action.

    Heh, very good! A straw man argument and reductio ad absurdum at the same time!

    That may be a problem argument for an anarchist but I am not one. I want a far smaller state not no state at all. Defending against collective threats (foreign armies, bubonic plague) is the role of state. Nukes defend against foreign armies. Getting mugged or attacked by a deranged person is not a collective threat, it is a personal or at least ‘local’ threat that can be dealt with personally or locally, rather than nationally. Personal small arms are all that is needed.

    That said, I spent rather a lot of time in the 1990s in the Balkans and saw light machineguns, RPGs and Ambrust stacked in the corner or sitting on dressing tables in people’s private homes. They were Domobranstvo (militia) and yet in spite of Croatia being a ‘high alcohol intake’ culture, there were surprisingly few cases of people blowing themselves up accidentally or blasting their neighbours with infantry anti-tank weapons in a fit of pique.

  • This morning’s television news as I awoke was just mobbed-up with anti-gun sentiment, everywhere I turned.

    If the noises that these chimps are making are indicative, then this is going nowhere good, fast.

  • Jon B

    I agree that the smug “guns are bad- I told you so” attitude of the BBC is infuriating but you don’t have to jump automatically to the opposite view just to spite the BBC.

    Perry said:

    Personal small arms are all that is needed.

    You could be right. In which case it is not as black-and-white as an “absolute right” to bear arms. Instead it is a practical question – which weapons should we agree to try and prohibit individuals from carrying in public? That depends on the situation in a given country. What is true for the UK or USA doesn’t necessarily apply in Iraq or Switzerland right now.

    armed societies abound, many of which have lower rates of gun crime than the UK, so clearly the problem is not ‘armed’ but rather ‘society’

    With a firearm homicide rate of 0.11 per 100,000 in the UK and 3.72 of 100,000 for the USA you need to explain why you see no correlation between gun crime and being armed. Or to be fair, no causative relationship. Look at the data(Link) – I know people can quote exceptions but draw your own conclusions.

    In the UK at the moment I feel safer knowing that the vast majority of people walking past me in the street are unarmed. So I don’t support legalising public carrying of guns in the UK today. In the USA the circumstances and culture differ so what they choose is different – I don’t see that as inconsistent tho, to me it seems a practical not a fundamental issue.

  • Sunfish

    If the University is going to disarm me and make me essentially defenceless, then the least they could do is provide an armed campus police force to protect me. I hope some victim’s family sues their arse off for not protecting them AND preventing them from defending themselves, using the second ammendment as a basis.

    1) VA Tech actually does have its own police department, which was probably running all over about four square miles of campus trying to find a shooter in a haystack.

    2) It’s almost impossible to sue a government entity in the US. It doesn’t help that there’s case law to the effect that police do not have a legally-enforceable duty to protect any particular person. And the only time that the USSC has touched a Second Amendment case thus far, it was to rule that sawn-off shotguns have nothing to do with the militia (a crap finding of fact, if nothing else, as few things are more useful in close-quarters combat, but let’s not go there just yet)

    3) Since Patrick Bateman is apparently an expert on all things tactical, I’d like to hear him explain how he would have either prevented the shooting or interrupted it. I would like this explained in view of the fact that: it is illegal for a private citizen to possess a firearm on the VT campus; and the most-recent reports are that the shooter is a foreign national who entered the US on a student visa, and IIRC it is illegal for such people to purchase firearms.

    Let me give you a hint, “Patrick,” when you’re visibly armed and you’re confronted by police, you drop the gun. You then comply with loud repetitive verbal commands. You’ll probably end up prone and then handcuffed, until the matter is sorted out. However, that often works to prevent one from being shot in a mistaken blue-on-blue. (When it doesn’t, usually it’s been because the guy not in uniform suffered from an attack of the stupids. I count two such deaths in the last two years, but both were off-duty or plainclothes cops who didn’t follow common procedure)

    Until the cops show up, you stay in a position of cover that offers you a clear field of view towards the anticipated Problem Area (yes, that’s a technical term.)

    I meant to leave this alone, but couldn’t resist:

    Perry – you really think that a typical cross-section of the general populace is going to obey your gun safety rules? This is always a problem in this debate – I’m happy for relatively sane, cautious individuals to have guns, not so happy for the Homer Simpsons to have the same (in public, they can shoot themselves at home as much as they want). And of course everyone thinks they fall into the former category.

    The US experience has been that those who carry typically do fall into the former category. I’m sorry that you don’t have much to work with to feed your desire to look down your nose at the rest of us. Probably the safest people are the cops or licensees from places with nondiscretionary licensing and an active gun culture. Probably the most untrustworthy have been off-duty cops from places with tight restrictions and no real gun culture. It hurts me to say that about my professional brothers from Chicago, but true is true even when it’s uncomfortable.

    Lurch:
    As of about 2AM MDT, both ABC and FOX were reporting that the shooter (or a shooter) was a foreign national on a student visa. Unconfirmed reports on both networks were that he was Chinese, from Shanghai.

    Nick G:

    To further prove it, can anyone point to a contrary example, where armed students stopped a potential mass-murderer cold?

    Pearl, Mississippi. It was a school administrator rather than students. He was licensed to carry, and had his weapon in his car (in violation of Federal law) He retrieved his pistol and confronted the shooter successfully.

    It’s not a school, but see also the shopping mall near Salt Lake City earlier this year. The criminal was contained by an off-duty cop (who is basically just a regular joe with concealed-carry authority).

    Point of clarification about the snipers: They are authorized to use force from a distance under the same circumstances in which they would be justified in using deadly force from within the same room. In other words, to control an imminent threat of death or great bodily injury to any person when it appears likely that a lesser degree of force will serve. Merely seeing some guy with a gun out, in the absence of any other information, won’t get you there.

    And they cover that stuff in any decent training class. If you choose to go armed without training, then see above about Darwin.

  • Chris Harper (Counting Cats)

    If you choose to go armed without training, then see above about Darwin.

    And this is more likely in an area without a gun culture than one with one.

    Question, John Hanning Speke was disciplined and knew how to handle a gun, so was his death suicide? Shame at his actions towards Burton?

  • Jon B,

    Look at the data(Link)

    Looking at the data and –as you suggest- at correlations, I find the correlation coefficient for the percentage of households with handguns and firearm homicides to be small (0.16) and insignificant (with a P-value of 0.54 for the null hypothesis of a zero correlation). In fact, the US and Northern Ireland stand out as cases with high gun homicide rates. The correlation coefficient for firearm homicide and non-firearm homicide by contrast is 0.95 (with a P-value of 0.00). All this would at least be consistent with a situation where people acquire guns because murder rates –regardless of method- are high to start with.

    That said, the data are patchy (there are 36 observations in all with data for the percentage of households with handguns for only 17 cases) Correlation coefficients are a crude device at the best of times and it is quite possible that a few outliers are driving the results here. Moreover, some of the more interesting cases with high homicide rates (Estonia, Brazil, Mexico) have no data on the percentage of households with guns.

    For an interesting text on society’s incentives and crime, look here. This study(Link) also states that crime in the US is generally low with high summary statistics resulting from crime in a few urban areas.

  • Samsung

    Apparently we in Britain have some of the toughest gun laws in the world. The UK media (ie. BBC) would have us all believe that if only the U.S had the same rigorous gun laws as we enlightened sophisticates in Britain have, then this awful shoot ‘em up would simply NEVER have happened. “Oh those silly Americans with their guns, if only they were more like us, what, what”. But with all our tough British gun laws, what is to stop an angry young student, living in London, obtaining an illegal handgun (from some gun dealing MTV gangsta wannabe in Peckham for example) and walking into a London college or university and killing dozens of people inside? Just because our silly UK gun laws prevent decent law abiding British citizens from legally possessing firearms for self defence purposes, does not mean this could not happen here… because it can.

  • Policing is one of the legitimate functions of the state (I assure you that the need for HRT and tracking down kidnappers etc. will exist in ‘Libertopia’ too) but reading the ghastly accounts of how slowly the VT cops reacted (regardless of whether or not it was incompetence or just a very difficult set of circumstances), the real lesson to come from this horror is the madness of leaving your safety entirely in the hands of The Authorities, whoever they happen to be.

    Everyone does not need to pack a gun. Contrary to what some people seem to think my position is, I do not particularly want to see everyone feel they need to be armed. All it takes is a few everyday people to be armed and uncontested murder rampages like this are a whole hell of a lot harder for the simple reason that the mean time to someone shooting back will be a damn sight shorter.

  • OldflyerBob

    I would like to make a comment or two as a Virginian who has a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

    First, you don’t get a permit until you document that you have been trained in the law as well as in weapon safety. I do not believe that concealed carry permits are common in Virginia, but I have no statistics. Any person without a felony record can carry a legally registered hand-gun openly in Virginia. Except for law enforcement officers in uniform, I cannot say that I have seen anyone doing this during my 30 years of residency–except for the owner of a gun shop who wears a pistol on his belt in the shop. Making a statement I suppose.

    Second, It is against the law to carry any weapon on the grounds of any school. I believe that this is a good thing. I particularly would not support the idea of legalizing guns at colleges. Too much testosterone and alcohol abuse. Very bad when combined with guns. Fifty years ago as a college student I witnessed an incident on campus involving the juxtaposition of a gun and alcohol; it was scary.

    Third. It is now known that the Virginia Tech murderer was in fact a legal resident-alien in the U. S. To this point it is not known publicly whether he obtained these guns legally. I do not know the details of the law, but if he had a valid driver’s license, a verifable residence and a clear police record it may be that he did. On the other hand, this morning news reports tell us that the serial numbers were filed off the two guns found at the scene, which suggests that they were not legal (but the media is in its normal “report if quick and correct it later” mode so who knows?)

    Americans have been wrestling for some time over the question of how much restriction the state should be place on gun ownership. It is a serious question. This tragedy will certainly throw fuel onto the debate. The tragedy which occurred yesteday in Virginia was undoubtedly facilitated by the possesion of a gun. As we know, it could have also been accomplished with a truck full of fertilizer, industrial dynamite, various chemicals or even by a motor vehicle on a crowded walkway. It is realtively easy to get a student pilot’s license in the U.S. as well as in many other countries. A private plane can be an extremely lethal weapon. Think abut that the next time you are huddled with thousands of others at a sporting event. Personally, I support the right of gun ownership with legal safeguards. I also support aggressive prosecution and severe penalities for crimes committed with guns–and for persons who violate the laws on sale and possesion of guns.

    The expressed notion that some societal failing was the root cause; that this could have been prevented if someone had just reached out to the murderer in his moment of pain is infantile, at best.

  • This really does show that the law is of no use when dealing with someone with no respect for it.

    I feel though that there might be some hope for the memories of those who were unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. With this news having come out so early in the story, there is a chance that the gun lobby might get a chance to show how stupid the dangerous idea of preventing victims from having guns really is.

  • The expressed notion that some societal failing was the root cause; that this could have been prevented if someone had just reached out to the murderer in his moment of pain is infantile, at best.

    Sure, but the point I made about armed societies was not about *this* murder but rather about the relationship between murder and the availability of guns.

    Most murders in the USA are not committed by deranged students, they are committed by drug dealing black men shooting other drug dealing black men and whoever else gets in the way (according to FBI stats in 2005 out of 14,860 homicide victims in the USA, 7,125 were black, most of whom were killed by other black people). This is clearly not a gun problem but rather a very serious social problem.

  • Paul from Florida

    I would like to point out something to those that argue that the state in the form of police should be the ones that are armed.

    At Virginia Tech, Columbine and every other mass gun murder spree, the police didn’t enter or confront the mad killer. The SOP seems to be let the killing go on until the killer kills himself or surrenders. So, if you are in one of these situations, you are in a lawless zone, the states law agents will not interfere. This is the factual, actual reality that those that argue against a person arming themselves should acknowledge. You are on your own. The State has temporarily abandoned you to a pre-law physical state if the jungle.

    I’d also like to point out that VT is primarily a engineering and sciences school. This would attract a more conservative student population. Further a school this size has no doubt a fair amount of military, and in today’s times, combat veterans continuing their education after an post high school enlistment. Also the school has a fairly active and popular Reserve Officer Training Program. These programs have at the school a handful of active duty officers and sergeants that assist students in becoming military officers. They also attract ex enlisted who are getting their degrees and are planning to return to the military as officers. Lastly, this is Virginia, and I don’t doubt the majority of males and a fair number of females are fairly knowledgeable with guns. In short the student population had and has access to firearms. The only thing that kept one, single responsible student from having a gun is the students good and kind obedience to authority and that the authority in their wisdom would protect them. They were lied to. Old story.

  • Sam Duncan

    “Oh those silly Americans with their guns, if only they were more like us, what, what”

    Exactly, Samsung. This attitude is why it’s important to emphasise the reality of gun control in the part of the US where a horrific event like this occurs.

    It’s why I inquired, in that other thread, if anyone had links to information about this. As far as the British (and, I assume, European) media are concerned, the USA is a country where it is uniformly easy to acqire and carry firearms. Patrick B may think it distateful, but my first thought on hearing this news, after dismay at the loss of lives, was to wonder about Virginian gun control. I suspected that it was probably relatively light, undermining my assumptions about the matter. It never occurred to me that it might be stricter on the Virginia Tech campus itself. Thanks to Midwesterner for his post.

    Paul from Florida, you’ve put it far better than I ever could.

  • First of all, let me offer my condolences to the 32 people who died in this tragedy.

    My take on this situation is as follows, the gun banners got their wish and had all guns banned from the campus of VT. Now this happens again. Remember VT had another loon last year go apeshit with a gun.

    Now, this shooter was a here on a student visa and as far as I am aware he was not legally entitled to own or have a firearm.

    The only people that are legally allowed to own or purchase firearms are those of us who are American Citizens or Legal Permanent Residents (Green Card Holders) that have not had a felony conviction or a Misdemenour Conviction for domestic violence.

    Loon in question was not legally allowed to have a firearm under federal law

    Now there are loopholes in any system, maybe he purchased his guns in a seemingly legal manner because he held a Virginia driving licence, I don’t know, the facts are not all in yet. Even then it would be a fraudulent purchase as he as a student visa holder (under federal law) is not allowed to own weapons.

    So the bottom line to all the anti-gun people out there, this was a gross criminal act perpetrated by a criminal who obtained firearms illegally.

  • Onepagan: from my experience the federal law you cite, if it does exist, may only apply to handguns. My husband and I came to MO in 1990, and he purchased a hunting rifle in the local WalMart without much ado. He was then on an H1 visa at the time, as far as I recall. In any case, it was certainly before we got our Green Cards. I recall that he was told that a permit was only required for a handgun. I don’t know whether it was a MO law, or a federal one, and what were the conditions for the permit. Also, this was 16 years ago, so maybe the laws have changed, and you are in fact correct. Come to think of it, after 9/11 it would be expected for the laws to be changed against foreigners purchasing weapons.

  • Alisa,

    The states do differ in regulations as far as handguns are concerned. Here in Maine, all thats required is a NICS check if its for a brand new handgun or long gun.

    However, 2nd hand sales are not regulated either for handguns or longs.

    Even so, This specimen should never have had a gun in the first place.

    H1B visas are a little out of my remit here :-)

  • Even so, This specimen should never have had a gun in the first place.

    Right. But even if he did not, he very likely could have found other ways to kill. Maybe not as many people, if he were to use a knife, or maybe many more, if he were to use explosives.

    H1B visas are a little out of my remit here

    I know, I was just stressing the fact that we were foreigners for all intents and purposes.

    I am still curious as to what the current federal law is, if any, and whether this guy had obtained his gun legally.

    In general, I am somewhat agnostic on gun laws, but in this particular case I have to agree with Mid. It seems pretty obvious that if at least a few of the students or professors on campus were armed, more innocent people would have been alive now. What a terrible tragedy.

  • ricsot67

    The curious think is that the killer did not use a rifle or a shotgun, who are far more lethal weapons than a 9mm glock pistol or a .22 pistol. He used a medium caliber pistol and a small caliber pistol. These weapons are not as lethal and usually requiere multiple hits or head shots to kill an human. Since reloading a pistol take about 1.5 seconds for an average operator, much more time for a untrained goon and a average human can cover about 21 feet in 1.5 seconds; the questions is, why nonbody tackled him to the ground when he was reloading? In a previous shooting spree a military NCO opened fire on a unarmed company on a training ground and the soldiers instead of running away or trying to hide, ran toward the shooter, who killed 5 soldiers before being disarmed of his M-16. The shooters sits now on death row. In my country a thug tried to do a shooting spree in bar in the wrong part of town. He managed to wound 5 locals with a Browning 9mm before the locals hit him with chairs, bottles and feet, beating him to death. Are people in the modern world so used to the Nanny State will defend you mantra that they prefered to stay put like deer on a headligth allowing a mass murder to shoot them in the head at point range, while the police stays put? I bet Al Quaeda must be taking notes. Is easy to smuggle a gun over international borders. Imagine several AQ active shooters with AK-47 and handgrenades in London o New York. Thats is a good reason to allow concealed carry to qualified individuals and basic hand to hand combat to students. But the nanny State will be allways for you, doesnt she? The USA and the UK should learn form the Israelis.

  • Tedd McHenry

    I’d be willing to bet that there was a point where the shooter could have been brought back from the brink by a minimal display of understanding and human kindness, but it was not forthcoming.

    If there were any practical way to know one way or the other I’d be happy to take you up on that. I’d be willing to bet that dozens of people — family members, friends, possibly teachers or other mentors, maybe even a few social workers or mental health professionals — tried hard to help this person. Some probably tried very, very hard. Somewhere there’s a mother torn apart with grief and guilt about what her child has done. It’s nowhere near as easy as you think to help someone who’s on that kind of path.

  • Paul from Florida

    From the Roanoke ( Virginia) Times.

    Unarmed and vulnerable

    by Bradford B. Wiles

    Wiles, of New Castle, is a graduate student at Virginia Tech.

    On Aug. 21 at about 9:20 a.m., my graduate-level class was evacuated from the Squires Student Center. We were interrupted in class and not informed of anything other than the following words: “You need to get out of the building.”

    Upon exiting the classroom, we were met at the doors leading outside by two armor-clad policemen with fully automatic weapons, plus their side arms. Once outside, there were several more officers with either fully automatic rifles and pump shotguns, and policemen running down the street, pistols drawn.

    It was at this time that I realized that I had no viable means of protecting myself.

    Please realize that I am licensed to carry a concealed handgun in the commonwealth of Virginia, and do so on a regular basis. However, because I am a Virginia Tech student, I am prohibited from carrying at school because of Virginia Tech’s student policy, which makes possession of a handgun an expellable offense, but not a prosecutable crime.

    I had entrusted my safety, and the safety of others to the police. In light of this, there are a few things I wish to point out.

    First, I never want to have my safety fully in the hands of anyone else, including the police.

    Second, I considered bringing my gun with me to campus, but did not due to the obvious risk of losing my graduate career, which is ridiculous because had I been shot and killed, there would have been no graduate career for me anyway.

    Third, and most important, I am trained and able to carry a concealed handgun almost anywhere in Virginia and other states that have reciprocity with Virginia, but cannot carry where I spend more time than anywhere else because, somehow, I become a threat to others when I cross from the town of Blacksburg onto Virginia Tech’s campus.

    Of all of the emotions and thoughts that were running through my head that morning, the most overwhelming one was of helplessness.

    That feeling of helplessness has been difficult to reconcile because I knew I would have been safer with a proper means to defend myself.

    I would also like to point out that when I mentioned to a professor that I would feel safer with my gun, this is what she said to me, “I would feel safer if you had your gun.”

    The policy that forbids students who are legally licensed to carry in Virginia needs to be changed.

    I am qualified and capable of carrying a concealed handgun and urge you to work with me to allow my most basic right of self-defense, and eliminate my entrusting my safety and the safety of my classmates to the government.

    This incident makes it clear that it is time that Virginia Tech and the commonwealth of Virginia let me take responsibility for my safety.

    …………………………………………………………………………….

  • John K

    Imagine several AQ active shooters with AK-47 and handgrenades in London o New York.

    That’s a very good point. I heard these spree killers being likened to suicide bombers on the radio this afternoon, and the likes of AQ might well conclude this would be a good way to attack the soft underbelly of the USA. One man who didn’t care if he survived could wreak absolute havoc.

    I think we must see a step change in attitudes, as has happened on airliners. Now, the old advice in the case of a hijack, to sit still and co-operate, is no longer sensible, resistance is the only option. It must be the case for these spree killings too, for there are sure to be more. These killers don’t expect their victims to fight back, it would be nice to disappoint them for a change. Instead of cowering under desks, throw the fucking desks at the bastard.

  • Paul Marks

    In case no one else has pointed this out (I have not read all 50 plus comments).

    J.D. Harper

    On the morning after the murders at Virginia Tech the B.B.C. Radio Four “Today Programme” had a “gun control” person on (from the Brady campaign). And the “conservative” “Daily Mail” had this headline “The price of the right to bear arms” (or words to that effect – I just looked at the newspaper front page briefly and walked on)

    So yes, in an ideal world, I would support making no political comment – but in this world the enemy (the B.B.C. and so on) are ruthless and totally evil. They did not even wait for the bodies to grow cold before they tried to use them for political propaganda.

    As for it being “illogical” (as some person said above) for people to be allowed to defend themselves – well such a statement is what I expect from the enemies of freedom

    Someone who is out to murder other people is already prepared to break a statute (the statute against murder) so it is the idea that such a person will respect “gun control” regulations that is “illogical”.

    The only people who might respect “gun control” regulations are honest folk – i.e. the victims.

    “The government will protect you, the government is your friend” – tell that to the bodies of the dead, or to their friends and families.

  • The lead editorial in The Independent

    But it said something, too, about American society – about the frustrations of suburban life, about the pressures to conform, about time, family life and the ruthless competition to “succeed”.

    Words cannot convey my disgust.

  • “…the questions is, why nonbody tackled him to the ground when he was reloading?”

    I think that the answer — or, at least: a great deal of it — is that the average understanding of handguns in American is utterly abysmal. For example: it’s not as if I try it regularly or anything, but I would bet long that if you asked a hundred people at random what would be the best course of action if confronted by a pistoleer at more than about five feet distance, not more than five of them would answer, “Turn around and run as fast as possible, changing direction every or three steps.” This is because they have no serious idea just how hard it is to hit a moving target like that with a pistol. They have no idea what it takes to actually aim one and put a bullet on target.

    I think that a great deal of this has to do with film and television, which treats handguns as utterly magic devices casually capable of unerring strikes (when they’re not high-comedy accessories). I do not discount the influence of video games, which, for all their alleged “accuracy”, have nothing in the world with actually handling a real-live real-world firearm.

    I have had several occasions in the past ten years or so to introduce various friends and acquaintances to a sidearm. What they don’t know about it would fill out a whole season’s television series.

    Add up what they don’t know, with everything they do know that’s wrong and I’m not surprised at all that the very natural difficulty of overcoming mortal fear with courage reaches just about universal impossibility.

    I have no data, so everybody gets to forget what I’m saying, with my compliments.

  • faye

    I’ve been reading some of the comments on other websites, particulary british “newspaper” websites and the ignorance about guns in general is appalling and annoying as all hell.

    This one comes to mind:

    “BAN NON HUNTING WEAPONS NOW!!11!”

    as if I cant kill some one with a “non hunting weapon”? I think this person also needs to look up the definition of weapon. Also non hunting weapons are just modified hunting weapons.

    Another gem is:

    “well if everyone in a city is armed then there will be more gun deaths”

    Ever heard of a little unknown town called Washington DC? That has the most restrictive gun laws in the country yet is on of the most dangerous to live in. Some people’s kids man. O_o

    Everyday that goes by, the more and more I want to get a concealed carry permit. Why are people so against something that would benefit women the most?

  • The Happy Rampager

    In the UK at the moment I feel safer knowing that the vast majority of people walking past me in the street are unarmed.

    Or alternatively:-

    In the UK at the moment I feel safer knowing that the only armed people (besides the police) are exactly the sort of people who have no qualms about using guns against me either because they want to take something I have or because they want to hurt or kill me for the hell of it.

  • Are people in the modern world so used to the Nanny State will defend you mantra that they prefered to stay put like deer on a headligth allowing a mass murder to shoot them in the head at point range, while the police stays put?

    I often wonder why people aren’t more proactive in this kind of situation too. For instance, I always wonder, if you are a Jew in Germany in 1938, why do you wait for the Gestapo to come in the night and then let them drag you away? Why don’t you get yourself a weapon, any weapon, and defend your family before going on the lam? Likewise every other genocide situation I can think off, and many hostage situations.

    But I think it has nothing to do with the “nanny state”, and everything to do with modern life generally and, more fundamentally, human nature.

    For one thing, unless you’ve thought about it ahead of time (which only weirdos like us do, apparently) you are going to freeze up in this situation. Some people are going to go into immediate shock and not recover from it for some time. Other people are going to be hit with such a dose of fear and adrenaline that rational decision making is out the window.

    For another thing, modern living no longer requires a familiarity with guns, killing, warfare, or physical survival other than in the most general and diffuse sense. So skills that would have been elementary to someone in another, harsher era are simply not a part of most people’s lives. Which kind of goes with your bar example – no doubt the inhabitants of the bar in question were slightly harder edged individuals than the average bear, and so their instincts for survival and retaliation were much more finely honed.

    But when someone is shooting at you, I don’t believe that you think “the police will save me” and that is why you do nothing. You give reliance on the state too much credit.

  • guy herbert

    Pommygranate,

    I’m no fan of guns and i have always been one of those who couldn’t understand how Americans failed to see the link between their high gun homicide rate and the prevalence of guns.

    Well I’m no fan of guns either, but I’m not a prohibitionist, and I’ve never seen anything that would help me untangle cause and effect. Attack someone with a gun if that’s what’s to hand and you are more likely to kill them than with most other means of violence, so prevalence of guns in a violent society will increase both the relative (it is to hand) and absolute (it is lethal) number of gun homicides.

    In a less aggressive society you still have gun-crime, just fewer of them. This is regardless of legality. See here. Guns are not quite as banned in Japan as they are in Britain.

    I suspect Patrick Bateman may be on to something, however, in this particular case, with his cultural point about “common decency”. Many parts of US society are afflicted by what one might call self-righteous meritocracy: the conception of personal moral virtue, social and career success and rule-observing behaviour as parallel and tightly intertwined, with self-assertion tipping over into aggression. (This is roaring on in a cv-obsessed, ever more conformist, Britain, too.) It is unforgiving, and one might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb. The guy had been sanctioned for violent writings; maybe all was lost, maybe he had to show he was somebody. Not so different from a gangsta.

  • Paul Marks

    Billy Beck has a point.

    As an undergraduate I was a member of a rifle club and thought of myself as a fair shot. Then one day someone gave me a pistol to fire – I did not really hit the target (i.e. get anywhere near centre) once out of five shots.

    It was a big shock.

    As for hitting a moving target with a pistol – to judge from my past performance, I would have no chance.

  • Paul Marks

    Guy Herbert makes a point about a “violent society” above, and he has a point.

    There were far more murders in the United States than In Britain before the First World War – when both nations had millions of firearms in civilian hands.

    Also places like Vermont and New Hampshire have tiny murder rates and very widespread firearm ownership indeed, and Washington D.C. has the strictest “gun control” regulations in the nation (as Senator Webb’s man recently found out) yet a very high murder rate.

    To use the old line “people kill people”, regulations banning firearms will not stop them using firearms (if someone is prepared to murder he is prepared to violate a “gun ban”) it just means that honest folk are turned into helpless victims. Even a magic spell that made firearms vanish (and took the knowledge of how to make them from the minds of all people) would not prevent murders – people would just use other means.

    “But they could not kill large numbers at once” – driving a car can do that, drive on to the side of the road, or into a school playground from the car park.

  • John K

    “But they could not kill large numbers at once” – driving a car can do that, drive on to the side of the road, or into a school playground from the car park.

    Or buy enough hydrogen peroxide.

  • Sunfish

    At Virginia Tech, Columbine and every other mass gun murder spree, the police didn’t enter or confront the mad killer. The SOP seems to be let the killing go on until the killer kills himself or surrenders.

    As for current SOP, you’re utterly FOS.

    At Columbine, the on-scene SRO engaged the two. He was, however, outgunned and never did have a good shot. Pistols are surprisingly useless against someone with a long gun and no particular cares about not hitting bystanders. Patrol rifles were only just starting to come into vogue then, and I don’t believe he had a shotgun readily available either. He may not have even had one in the trunk.

    SWAT didn’t know what they were doing, but that’s largely because, in 1999, there was no “Active Shooter Response” doctrine as we know it in 2007. (Also, there were credible fears of IEDs in the school, and in fact several were found. The incident commander’s first task is always “Before you make it better, don’t make it worse.”)

    I suspect that we’ll find that VA Tech PD didn’t know where the shooter was until the shooting was over. It’s hard to engage an unknown number of shooters on a four-square-mile college campus when you don’t know where they are. Basically, think of a campus as being like a city, covering 2600 acres in this case. I doubt that VA Tech had more than 10-12 officers on at the time of the incident. Even pulling mutual aid from the city (who don’t have much more), the sheriff (who may not have much to share at all) and the Highway Patrol (who will take some time to get there) that’s a lot of ground to cover, and especially when you’ve already got a double-homicide scene being worked.

    At the mall in Ogden, one off-duty cop initially engaged, and the
    responding officers formed up and made entry pretty much immediately.

    I’m a huge supporter of private-citizen concealed carry: it’s obvious that Monday would have been more than just a little different had the killer been confronted by armed students or teachers. However, juvenile cop-bashing for its own sake won’t help your case.

    But when someone is shooting at you, I don’t believe that you think “the police will save me” and that is why you do nothing. You give reliance on the state too much credit.

    Someone who’s spent years or decades forming the habit to depend on someone else will not change his program in the two seconds of being shot at. To react effectively, one needs to realize the risk in advance, and to train and cultivate the mindset. If he’s been protected by other people for two decades and told that mommy and daddy and the cops would always protect him, he doesn’t need to think a useless thought: he can react uselessly purely through habit.

    The “fight or flight” response would more accurately be termed “fight, flight, or freeze.” “Freeze” is what happens when you don’t have another response ready to go, when you haven’t trained, or when you’re not mentally prepared. College kids whose education hasn’t included “how to not be shot” will definitely freeze.

    For example: it’s not as if I try it regularly or anything, but I would bet long that if you asked a hundred people at random what would be the best course of action if confronted by a pistoleer at more than about five feet distance, not more than five of them would answer, “Turn around and run as fast as possible, changing direction every or three steps.

    “Duck, pump left, and charge” is also a good one surprisingly often. Aggressively defensive response works quite well in close-quarters solutions. The average shithead aggressor never seriously considers the possibility that his sheep will be goats instead, and so sudden resistance plays hell with his thought processes. Advantage, now: good guys.

    If you’ve ever seen a Tueller Drill performed, it illustrates my point perfectly.

    Come to think of it, after 9/11 it would be expected for the laws to be changed against foreigners purchasing weapons.

    There was a move afoot to block weapons purchases by people on terror watch lists by linking them into the instant check system. However, someone pointed out that nobody knows who adds names to the various lists, what criteria are used, or how someone can be removed if he’s not a terrorist. Nor is there even a way for an individual person to find out which lists he may or may not be on. As a result, the proposal was dropped.

    At least at the Federal level, I don’t believe that there have been any changes to the disqualifiers since domestic violence misdemeanor convictions and pending charges were added in 1993 or 1994.

    When the guy on the H-series bought his, he may have gotten past NICS because NICS supposedly only stores disqualified people. To block the purchase you reference, NICS would need a list of every single visa holder of every class of visa other than Permanent Resident Alien.

    On the other hand, this morning news reports tell us that the serial numbers were filed off the two guns found at the scene, which suggests that they were not legal (but the media is in its normal “report if quick and correct it later” mode so who knows?)

    ATFE has a lab that specializes in recovering filed-off serial numbers, and apparently they completed the trace on at least one of the guns. The Glock was bought from a licensed dealer in Virginia.

    For non-US readers, given a serial number, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives can trace a firearm to its first retail purchaser. That purchaser fills out a form to record the transfer, which the dealer maintains in his files for ten years. In most states, the retail purchaser can re-sell it without paperwork, however. In my state, for instance, there’s no requirement that the purchaser even identify himself to the seller in a private-party sale. (There are limitations: some states forbid such private-party sales. Some have state registration schemes. And it’s illegal for a person to re-sell as a business without a dealer’s license and the records mentioned above)

    I like our system here. It can make it harder to investigate crimes, but history has shown no end of deadly mischief resulting from registration schemes. I’d like my workplace life to be easier, but free countries are not run for the convenience of the police.

  • Sunfish

    “But they could not kill large numbers at once” – driving a car can do that, drive on to the side of the road, or into a school playground from the car park.

    Don’t forget, this was the largest single murder series committed with a firearm. There have been bigger, though: 9-11 (obviously); OKC (and only Charles Schumer seriously wanted to ban 38-0-0 after that) and the 1990 Brooklyn nightclub murders (87 people killed, the weapon was one gallon of gasoline.)

  • Sunfish… please drop me an e-mail at reply[at]samizdata.net as I have a question for you not suitable for a comment thread.

    Cheers.

  • RKV

    It’s a tie if you don’t count the death of the perpetrator. Martin Bryant killed 32 on Sunday April, 28, 1996 in Tasmania with two rifles. BTW Bryant killed himself in jail later, of course Cho shot himself.

    http://www.mayhem.net/Crime/murder1.html

  • “As for hitting a moving target with a pistol – to judge from my past performance, I would have no chance.”

    Paul; in my back yard, I have been able to put together twelve-inch target groups with my Beretta 92FS at about one hundred twenty feet. If I don’t shoot regularly and often, I can’t do that. It’s very difficult.

    A running target? I wouldn’t even bet on myself. I might get lucky, but that’s what it would be. I once shot a skunk that I didn’t appreciate prowling around the house: he was about sixty feet away and in full-deflection, crossing from right to left at ninety degrees. I hit that little bastard with the first shot and was utterly amazed. I would not bet on that twice in a row without blowing through a lot of ammo to keep in shape.

    Most people have no experience with handguns whatever: none. They know just about nothing about what it takes to manage one. A guy walks into their room with one or (shudder) two of them, and all they know is the rubbish they’ve seen in the movies.

  • Sunfish: “‘Duck, pump left, and charge’ is also a good one surprisingly often. Aggressively defensive response works quite well in close-quarters solutions. The average shithead aggressor never seriously considers the possibility that his sheep will be goats instead, and so sudden resistance plays hell with his thought processes. Advantage, now: good guys.”

    Damned right, and that’s a lot more to the point here. Depending on the ground to cover between you and the shooter, that’s a lot of rattle to lay on him and for him to sort through by the time you hit the goal-line. In an average classroom, I can see that play really working out. Especially when it’s compared to just standing around waiting for your shot in the head.

  • If I may be allowed to post a few facts on this case:

    1.) The shooter was Korean by birth, and had lived in the U.S. since age 8. He was a legal “resident alien”.

    2.) He purchased both guns legally, according to Virginia state law. He was 23 (ie. older than 21, the minimum age to purchase a handgun), and he had purchased one in March, and then a month later, the other one, in accordance with Virginia’s “one handgun per month” rule.

    3.) He was a registered student at Virginia Tech.

    Those are the facts.

    At some point, this mope decided that he was going to kill people. There was a little hint of this possibility in his English-class writings, but not much was done about it. Certainly, there was no hint of it in his social behavior or demeanor. Yes, he was a loner, but so are many people who do not go on to kill scores of other people.

    And now, the editorial, and it comes courtesy of Steve Graham:

    “Here’s a question for all the damp, limp, hand-wringing ninnies who think guns should be banned on college campuses. If you were in a classroom with Cho Seung-Hui at the door, trying to force his way in so he could shoot you and eight or nine of your friends, would you want a gun or not?

    “Right.”

    Yes, I know: allowing guns onto college campuses would be dangerous, because these are young people with a predilection for intoxication.

    My question: at what point do we expect our kids to grow up and become adults?

    And since everyone seems bent on giving us their own story about guns, here’s mine.

    When I first fired a large-caliber handgun (age 18), I was humbled by the fact that, for the first time in my life, I had the power and death over another human being. In the space of a single second, I became a more responsible person.

    So yes: for some kids, youth, booze and guns can be a lethal combination. But not for all kids, and I would suggest that this should be the default position, rather than the nannyist precautionary one.

    And had some responsible kids been carrying guns at VT on Monday, the death toll may well have been lower — and indeed, if the shooter had known that there would be armed people in the classrooms, instead of a target-rich environment, perhaps he would have held off from fulfilling his murderous little fantasy.

    That’s not a pie-in-the-sky theory: it’s the reason why there are no spree killings in gun stores, gun shows, NRA conventions and shooting ranges.

    Oh, and by the way, I’m not going to talk about the (red herring) murder rates in different countries, because I’ve done it many times before, and comparisons are mostly bullshit anyway.

  • Brad

    Setting aside the inconsistency of finding it tasteless to discuss gun laws when the bodies are still warm and then do just that, the question is “when should the debate take place”?

    As soon as I heard of the events I had just such interpersonal discussions with acquaintances. Should I not have, instead held hands and a prayer vigile? When such things happen, that’s precisely the time to discuss the propriety of gun laws.

    Was it the venue? Personal discussion is one thing, but this is a different medium? As far as I see, a blog is a Web Log, a place for those with the keys to the kingdom to post, timely, their thoughts. The internet and weblogs allow for immediate discussion by people far-flung around the world. That’s the beauty of it.

    And if reactions were more immediate, then perhaps the grinding weight of Statism, that-talk-loudly-and-do-nothing-entity, might be lifted. The light will shine in timely, the immediate thoughts of people will be widely known instantly instead of stuffed back away and debate left to our betters so the same old, same old can continue.

    It does more honor to the dead to talk about how they might still be alive than to light a candle.

  • …because these are young people with a predilection for intoxication.

    Well, part of that predilection is certainly due to the fact that they have nothing better to do, including no real responsibilities. Somehow when they join the military at the tender age of 18, (or whatever age it is in the US?), all this childish “predilection” suddenly disappears. So yes, Kim, I totally agree.

  • Paul Marks

    The left were using the dead for the “gun control” stuff at once.

    The usual suspects. In Britain the B.B.C., and in the United States N.B.C., Rosy O’D on A.B.C.s “The View” (“every civilized country in the world…” it would seem that, for example, Switzerland is as “uncivilized” as the United States) and the New York Times.

    So pro freedom people have a choice – stay silent, or reply.

    In this environment staying silent will not mean that the dead are left in peace.

    The people who were murdered deserved the chance to defend themselves.

    And those people who wanted to defend others (such as the Israeli academic who survived the National Socialists, escaped from Marxist Romania, and died on Israeli Holocaust rememberance day) deserved to be allowed to do more than try and hold a door closed (whilst his students jumped from the windows) whilst round after round went into his body.

  • OldflyerBob

    I would just like to comment that Guy Herbert’s assesment of American society is total BS. Clearly, a great amount of ignorance is at work.

    I suggest that if you have an inclination to be smug about someone else’s society be very careful, unless you enjoy the taste of your own words. There was a time when it was very easy for members of small, very homogenous populations to mount a pedestal and tell a dynamially growing and polygot society how to better manage its affairs. I think many Europeans (Brits included) are beginning to see that it is not nearly as simple as they thought. Being, in fact, something of an Anglophile, I do wish you luck.

    BTW, despite the incessant criticism of U.S. society, among the incessant stream of people streaming toward this country were the parents of the Va Tech killer. Perhaps lost in the media blitz is the fact that they arrived here 14 years ago seeking a better life than the one available to them at home, and they found it; they owned their home and a business; their daughter has now graduated from Princeton University (one of the world’s finest). Their son, who according to his grand-father, had fairly serious emotional problems well before he arrived in the U.S., was a 4th year student at another fine University. He had been afforded opportunities he would never have dreamed of in many countries. He ultimately rejected those just as he did his future.

    There are many questions unanswered regarding the Virginia Tech massacre. Information is emerging and people who want to comment should stay abreast of it. We now know, for instance, that because of previous aggressive behavior, the killer had been referred by police officials to Mental Health Professionals and diagnosed as emotionally disturbed–and a danger to himself. Unfortunately, either for reasons of political correctness, or because of faulty assesment the block on the evaluation form the would have identified him as a “danger to others” was not completed. Thus, he was not instutionalized. Treatment was offered. Privacy laws may prevent us learning exactly what treatment he accepted or rejected. Unfortunately in retrospect, he could he not be expelled from the University on the based on his psychiatric evaluation and his undefined aggressive behavior because the targets declined to file charges. Politcal correctness also came into play.

    Sometimes privacy protections and other individual rights bite society in the butt. Balancing the issues is pretty delicate business. I believe Londoners are wrestling with some of those types of issues right now.

    This massacre was about one pathological individual run amok. Whether he would have obtained guns if more stingent laws were in place, or whether he would have resorted to some other means of multiple murder, is pure speculation. The number of vicitims may have varied, but victims there were going to be. To try to blame American society because this young man had a dysfunctional and murderous personality is pure excrement. It is too bad that people try to twist event like this to fit their own agenda, but it is inevitable I suppose. As we say over here, “Talk is cheap”.

  • Paul Marks

    OldflyerBob

    Clearly I am not the only person who sometimes shows “Guy derangement syndrome”.

    Guy did not not mean any harm with what he implied about the United States. I suspect it is his manner (something that is not his fault) that inspires G.D.S. in some people (which is rather more our fault than his).

    I agree that to blame the United States for an evil man being evil is wrong, but I do not believe that is what Guy thought he was doing.

    However, I do not agree with you that to say that Cho would still have got the firearms in spite of more “gun control” regulations is “speculation”.

    I know of plenty of people who have got firearms in Britain (and other places) breaking all sorts of firearm statutes – in fact it is quite easy.

    All “gun control” did in the case of Virginia Tech was to turn honest people (the only people who are going to obey such regulations) into defenceless victims.

    It is not possible to prevent the existance of evil people like Cho – but it is possible to allow other people to defend themseleves and others against such an evil person.

    Post Script.

    Princeton one of the finest universtities in the world? Well in such things as the natural sciences it may well be, but not in economics – Paul Krugman is there.

    There tends to be a problem with the teaching of “social sciences” and the humanities (especially English literature) in both the United States and the United Kingdom.