32 students dead who had no-one to defend them.
32 dead who had nothing with which to defend themselves.
MikeE says it for me:
Think about this for a minute. All it would have taken was one student or teacher who could have legally owned a firearm to stop this. One bullet. And 32 students would still be alive today. Gun control, and gun free zone laws denied 32 people a right to life.32 people dead whom the law had disarmed, and whose would-be defenders were disarmed.
UPDATE 1: Eric Olthwaite points out below the tragedy that a year ago a Bill placed before the state legislature to give those students the right to defend themselves was defeated. Details here at the Free Students' blog.
Virginia Tech was famous for being a “gun free zone”. In June of 2005 a student, who had a gun permit, had a firearm on him when he went onto campus. He was disciplined as a result. At that time the governing board of the university approved another policy which made things loud and clear, they would never allow employees or students to carry firearms for self defense. The governing board openly, publicly, loudly, announced to the world they had disarmed every person on the campus.Much, much more detail on this at the Free Students' blog.
Every person except, of course, any person who didn’t mind violating the law . . .
UPDATE 2: Blair quotes a comment made on the Guardian website (ironically enough) on the many misconceptions around American gun law. It's worth re-quoting.
"As a American and a NRA member let me clarify some of the misconceptions ... about gun laws in the USA. Nobody can purchase a gun without a background check to see if they have a criminal record. For handguns there is a waiting period from the time you purchase it to the time you receive it. It varies by state but between 3 and 14 days is the law. Longguns (rifles/shotguns)have an instant check were you call into the FBI in Washington, DC and they have the final say on if the deal is approved. In many states handguns are registered. Some states its difficult to get a permit for a handgun. Usually easier for a long-gun. There is a "black market" where individuals sell guns to each other without going through a background check. Just as there are with anything that is government regulated. So its not like you can pick up a 9mm Glock with the bubble gum at the local market checkout as some posters have implied.UPDATE 3: Irony alert here. Following the implementation of Virginia Tech's "gun free zone" policy in June 2005, Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker declared he was "happy to hear" the bill allowing licensed students and security guards to arm themselves 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."
On a side note.....a couple years ago a local schoolgirl here was found to have a tiny folding pen knife on her person and the school went crazy and tossed her out and everyone made out like she had brought a bomb to class. My father who is 72 commented to me that when he was going to school way back in the 1940s that all the boys had pocket knives and traded them and carved wood at recess and it never ever crossed anyone's mind to stab each other.
To those that think that culture has nothing to do with the violence today should remember that there were never these killings in the 20s,30s,40s,or 50 even though the same just as deadly guns WERE literally available at the checkout of many country stores in the USA. High capacity shotguns and .45 automatic handguns were invented in the early 1900s. Available everywhere. No background check. Just cash and you could carry it out. But there was nothing like the crime commited like there was today. Would stricter gun laws stop it? Perhaps it would in some instances. But one thing is clear, today's tragic events occur at this time in history not because of the easy access to guns but for some other reasons that have not been addressed. Gun control might prevent some crimes but guns simply aren't at the root cause, as history shows that these type of killings are modern in nature and never occured till about 20 years ago despite even easier access to just as deadly weapons." [Emphasis mine]
Safe! As a commenter said here, "So its not just that no one there was able to defend themselves but also that the gunman didn't even have to worry about the possibility." As another commenter noted, "The Universities in the USA would choose to be gun-free zones regardless of the Federal, State, County or City ordinances. Do not forget that the Universities are the nurseries for every left-wing canard, including the idea that you can legislate a 'gun free society' into existence."
Seems you can't. You can legislate guns out of the hands of law-abiding people, but you can't legislation murder weapons out of the hands of outlaws.
UPDATE 4: Here's a list of the most tragic twentieth-century peacetime school killings, in order of atrocity, just so we've got some context, and we're talking from the facts.
- Beslan School siege, Russia, 2004, 365 killed.
- Machakos school arson, Kenya, 2001, 58 killed
- Bath School bombing, USA, 1927. 45 killed.
- Virginia Tech shooting, USA, 2007, 32 killed.
- Ma'alot massacre, Israel, 1974, 26 killed.
- Dunblane School shooting, UK, 1989, 18 killed.
- Erfurt school shooting, Germany, 2002, 18 killed.
- University of Texas shooting, USA, 1966, 16 killed.
- Columbine High School shooting, USA, 1999, 15 killed.
- École Polytechnique Massacre, Montreal, Canada, 1989,14 killed.
- Chinese Middle School riots, Singapore, 1956, 13 killed.
- Avivim school bus rocket attack, Israel, 1970,12 killed.
Fortunately for those whose lives they saved, the Appalachian School of Law had not been declared a "gun free zone."
Nor did the shooting at Pearl High School, Mississippi make the list. Another disgruntled student shot two students when Assistant Principal Joel Myrick, after retrieving his handgun from his locked car, stopped him on his way to kill more. Again, the Free Students' blog has details, along more stories where armed resistance put an early stop to wild killing.
UPDATE 5: David Weigel at Reason makes an interesting observation:
Reporters take the "too many guns" tack after tragedies like these not because they're liberal, but because it fits so nicely into the "Are your kids next?" formula. Like in the stories about toys that can kill your children, tainted meat that can kill them, and MySpace pages that can kill them, these stories are like fertilizer for factual errors.Nice idea, but I have haven't heard many arguing, "Unless you arm yourself, then your children will be be next."
Also worth reading, says Weigel, "is Roger Simon's explanation of why reporters are bringing back the gun control debate but the Democrats aren't."
UPDATE 6: Reason's Jacob Sullum notes another of the many knee-jerk responses from people ready to use any tragedy to advance a cause:
The response from Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, is ... puzzling. Helmke bemoans "how easy it is for an individual to get powerful weapons in our country." In what sense are the handguns Cho used, a .22 and a 9mm, especially "powerful"?And speaking of "using any tragedy to advance a cause," how about that Barack Obama, eh? Less than twenty-four hours after the shooting, and he's already mouthing off:
What a fuckwit. As Radley Balko says, this
"There's also another kind of violence that we're going to have to think about. It's not necessarily the physical violence, but the violence that we perpetrate on each other in other ways," he said, and goes on to catalogue other forms of "violence."
There's the "verbal violence" of Imus.
There's "the violence of men and women who have worked all their lives and suddenly have the rug pulled out from under them because their job is moved to another country."
isn't just ignorant, it's exploitative and offensive... Words aren't violence... Jesus. Couldn't the politicians wait a full 48 hours before propping up the dead for campaign speeches?UPDATE 7: Lubos has news and reflections, and a collage of some of the dead:
UPDATE 8: MikeE posts an account "written by a student at Virginia Tech, who could legally carry a concealed firearm anywhere else but campus - and his thoughts afterwards": Unarmed and Vulnerable is the title. Says Mike (i paraphrase slightly),
This is for everyone who has claimed that it's nuts to think that people should have the right to defend themselves because the police will do it for them -- ignoring the fact that the police have never, in the world's history, stopped a school shooting. What has stopped the shooting is either armed intervention by students or teachers, or the eventual suicide of the gunman.It's the opposite of 'hit and hope' really, isn't it.