20 April 2007

VT Massacre & Aftermath

This is a long post so I'll cut to the chase:

Gun Control is NOT the answer to the horrific events at Virginia Tech.

The shootings at VT do not stem from the wide availability of guns, but from an absence of social and moral restraint that is growing in our country. The Wall Street Journal republished an Op-Ed from 1993, in which they examined the shooting of an abortion doctor as evidence of

"how small the barrier has become that separates civilized from uncivilized behavior in American life. In our time, the United States suffers every day of the week because there are now so many marginalized people among us who don't understand the rules, who don't think that rules of personal or civil conduct apply to them, who have no notion of self-control."

It is a compelling piece, and I think it points more directly at the proliferation of these violent attacks.

I am concerned that this tragedy will bring calls for restrictions on the right to own firearms. James Q. Wilson is a professor of public policy at Pepperdine University. In an L.A. Times op-ed he argues against gun control:

Let's take a deep breath and think about what we know about gun violence and gun control. First: There is no doubt that the existence of some 260 million guns (of which perhaps 60 million are handguns) increases the death rate in this country. We do not have drive-by poisonings or drive-by knifings, but we do have drive-by shootings. Easy access to guns makes deadly violence more common in drug deals, gang fights and street corner brawls. However, there is no way to extinguish this supply of guns. It would be constitutionally suspect and politically impossible to confiscate hundreds of millions of weapons. You can declare a place gun-free, as Virginia Tech had done, and guns will still be brought there.

Fred Thompson, former Republican senator (TN), actor, and possible presidential aspirant has an excellent commentary on gun ownership as a crime deterrent:

The statistics are clear. Communities that recognize and grant Second Amendment rights to responsible adults have a significantly lower incidence of violent crime than those that do not. More to the point, incarcerated criminals tell criminologists that they consider local gun laws when they decide what sort of crime they will commit, and where they will do so.
Still, there are a lot of people who are just offended by the notion that people can carry guns around. They view everybody, or at least many of us, as potential murderers prevented only by the lack of a convenient weapon. Virginia Tech administrators overrode Virginia state law and threatened to expel or fire anybody who brings a weapon onto campus.
In recent years, however, armed Americans -- not on-duty police officers -- have successfully prevented a number of attempted mass murders. Evidence from Israel, where many teachers have weapons and have stopped serious terror attacks, has been documented. Supporting, though contrary, evidence from Great Britain, where strict gun controls have led to violent crime rates far higher than ours, is also common knowledge.

Continuing Thompson's line of thought is this Opinion Journal "Hot Topic" piece:

But over the past decade and a half, evidence of another sort has been accumulating. Violent-crime rates peaked in 1991, according to the Justice Department, and have fallen steeply since. Over the same period, gun-control laws in many states have been relaxed. Correlation does not equal causation, but it does make it difficult to argue that greater legal access to guns drives up levels of violent crime.
Whether concealed-carry laws and the like have held down crime rates remains a hotly debated subject. Certainly, more aggressive and effective policing, especially in big cities, has been a major force in driving down crime. One irony of this is that law-enforcement types have long been a major pro-gun-control force, even though it would seem that how their job is defined and performed has much more to do with crime levels than whether guns are available legally.

In fact, according to the preceding piece, recent court rulings may lead to a more open interpretation of citizen's 2nd Amendment rights, disallowing some of the more restrictive measures in places like Washington D.C. In an op-ed from Wednesday's Wall Street Journal, gun rights advocate David Kopel ended with the following statement:

The founder of the University of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson, understood the harms resulting from the type of policy created at Virginia Tech. In his "Commonplace Book," Jefferson copied a passage from Cesare Beccaria, the founder of criminology, which was as true on Monday as it always has been:
"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms . . . disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes . . . Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man."

In due time I plan to be among the armed, and I'll feel safer for it. Truthfully, I'm a little ashamed that I don't own a gun already.


Anonymous said...

There has been a lot of talk on this on the radio shows (John Lott who wrote the book "More Guns, Less Crime" on Sean Hannity), and I believe strongly that the bad people of the world will always find access to guns, so shouldn't the good, law abiding citizens be able to defend themselves? To not be sitting ducks?

I think we absolutely need regulations, and I don't LIKE guns, but I like the fact that a bad guy has to think twice before breaking into a house knowing that you might be exercising your second ammendment rights.

Jlowryjr said...

I agree with the need for regulation. There should be background checks, there should be metal detectors in courthouses, prisons, and certain other places.