Tuesday, 17 April 2007

32 dead.

At least 32 dead from gunshots in a "gun-free zone."

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.

Every person except, of course, any person who didn’t mind violating the law . . .
Much, much more detail on this at the Free Students' blog.

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.

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]
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."

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.
One tragedy not on that list is the shooting at the Appalachian School of Law in 20o1, in which a disgruntled former student shot and killed three people. The reason the death toll wasn't higher? As the Free Students' blog explains, when students Tracey Bridges and Mikael Gross (an off-duty police officer) heard the shots they immediately ran to their cars to retrieve their handguns locked within, and within minutes the two had him disarmed and restrained.

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 ret
rieving 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.

: 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:

"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."

What a fuckwit. As Radley Balko says, this
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.


  1. Even worse, as his guy points out...


    ...was that a year before this a bill to give those students the right to defend themselves was defeated.

  2. It's a tragedy. But I don't think students packing heat is the answer PC.


  3. Nope denmt, if someone with a gun comes at you, you should just give up.

    I think your approach ties in quite well with some other statements pc recently made with regards to the Islamic threat.

  4. While not directly responsible. The people who passed this regulation truely have blood on their hands.

  5. Berend: Au contraire, when threatened with a weapon, you should totally grab your piece, conveniently located in a shoulder holster or down the back of your pants, and blow the miscreant away!

    I mean, this would never have happened had the gunmans first victim been carrying, right?

    All sarcasm aside, do you actually believe that if anti-gun legislation was in place, and say 10% of the students had concealed-carry permits, and were armed with pistols, that the outcome would have been any different?

    And do you actually want to live in a world where a sizeable fraction of the populace is walking around armed?

    For all libertarians who want to have a good chuckle at one of their own, who has perhaps strayed from the fold, I urge you to read anything at www.themartialist.com.

    Pretty much the finest example of what is wrong with the 'everyone should be armed' mentality.


  6. Exactly Den. The 'violence is the solution' is put forward by the right at every opportunity. Like opposition to the S59 amendment etc.

    Procedure was to blame for this massacre - the school didn't even have surveillance cameras for god's sake. Even Botany College in Auckland has cameras and security guards 24/7.

    But the right always start screaming if 'systems' and the police are discredited in any way.

  7. Denmt, who has talked about "everyone being armed" apart from you?

    AFIK - there are no libz arguing for this whatsoever. Nice straw man argument though.

    What people are arguing is against restrictions which prevent people from defending themselves. Not for "everyone to be armed"

    Lets assume that even one or two people on campus had conceal to carry permits.

    The odds still would increase now in favor of the victims over the assailant.

  8. How would security cameras stop someone shooting several people before committing suicide?

    Beats me.

    Short of having remote gated entry at every entrance to the school, operated from behind ballistic glass, no procedure can stop this.

    You cite security guards, but without weapons, what are they gonna do?

    In cases like this, violence is required to stop violence.

  9. MikeE: That was a reflection on Phil Elmore of 'The Martialist's mentality.

    However, the implication here is that the relaxation of gun control laws might have prevented some of the deaths on the campus. You are saying, with a straight face, that if a couple of kids with concealed carry permits were on campus, things might have been different.

    Sure - if they had been in exactly the right place at the right time, maybe. But do you really believe that the outcome would not have been exactly the same?

    The logical extension of an environment whereby guns are legal and it is permissible to carry them about in daily life is that one would be remiss not to own and pack one. Do you want to live in that world?


  10. This entire discussion is in fantasy land because it presumes gun owners will keep their weapons sheathed until a crazed gunman goes on the rampage.

    Um, sorry, no. There's a little thing called the law of unintended consequences. More citizens with guns means a greater chance that someone will get stonking drunk and then whip out his or her pistol to settle some random dispute. Not to mention the chance that a gun owner accidentally or carelessly leaves a gun unprotected for a young kid to pick up and play with.

    What happened at Virgina Tech was horrible and tragic and exceptionally uncommon. Let's not lose our heads.

  11. http://www.mahablog.com/2007/04/16/safety-first/

  12. denmt: do you actually believe that if anti-gun legislation was in place, and say 10% of the students had concealed-carry permits, and were armed with pistols, that the outcome would have been any different?

    Yes. For starters, the gunman would have gone to a different university. Let's say, one where he could be sure people wouldn't shoot back.

    denmt: And do you actually want to live in a world where a sizeable fraction of the populace is walking around armed?

    Do you want to live in a world where only the outlaws have arms?

    I have no problem with my neighbours having arms. It would make me feel quite safe.

    denmt: Pretty much the finest example of what is wrong with the 'everyone should be armed' mentality.

    It seems you prefer the country where only the outlaws have guns. That thinking is directly responsible for the high number of deaths in this case.

    Maybe the first victim wouldn't have killed the gunman, but it wouldn't have been over 30 victims.

    School shootings have happened in "enlightened" european countries as well denmt.

  13. michael fasher17 Apr 2007, 20:27:00

    largest school massacre
    Ethiopia in 1979 when in one week over 5000 students were killed by the marxist government because their was a rival marxist movement among the students.
    second largest school massacre belson 350 peaple killed.
    this is third
    fourth was dumblane with 19 next was one in germany wit 16 in fact there were two in the space of a couple of months. then colubine and all other american shootings
    all but one of the american shootings happened after bill clinton made schools and a thousand foot radius gun free zones
    all but one happened in non concealed carry states and to top it off the shootings with the lowest deaths were stoped by armed intervention by armed civilians.
    the one that pops to mind is pearl missisipe when the vice head master ran the thousand feet outside the gun free zone to his car got a 45 pistil and stoped the shooting
    in two other examples shootings were stoped by drivers who had weapons in the boot of their cars and intervened
    no police have ever arived in time to stop a school shooting

  14. The anti gun lefties are spinning their bullshit already I see...

    "All sarcasm aside, do you actually believe that if anti-gun legislation was in place, and say 10% of the students had concealed-carry permits, and were armed with pistols, that the outcome would have been any different?"

    What Michael said....! ;-)

    Yes very much so.There are historic examples of just that sort of thing happening which stopped mass killers cold before they could get a score.Gun free zones invite mass killers by their stance on guns.

    "And do you actually want to live in a world where a sizeable fraction of the populace is walking around armed?"

    Fucking A! I would feel a lot safer and less helpless if attacked by a criminal.Women would also be far less at risk of rape as examples from the US show re concealed carry laws.The benefit of concealed carry laws extend to those not carring also as criminals don't know whos armed so are far less likely to offend.The no guns get a bludge off of the pro guns...;-)

    "Pretty much the finest example of what is wrong with the 'everyone should be armed' mentality."

    as are you of the "ignorant fact evading State lover" mentality.

  15. A good watch of this would also silence some anti gun musings I feel...


  16. Robert Winefield18 Apr 2007, 03:01:00

    If you look at these crimes (Aramoana, Columbine, Port Arthur etc.) the common thread running through many of them is that the murderer was known to be acting like a nut-job beforehand.

    So the question is this: What exactly has happened to the 'mental health system' & the Justice system's ability to utilize it for public safety?

  17. michael fasher, great comment!

    James on kiwiblog claims that it is culture.

    You have statistics that point that it might have more to do with anti-gun laws.

    The latter seems more reasonable to me. Whatever the culture, for people to start shooting others, a pretty high threshold has to be passed, thank God.

    Anyone knows more on US school shooting statistics?

  18. For Denmt's edification, here are some examples of what happens when people are allowed to defend themselves, rather than be disarmed so only criminals have weapons and then wait two hours for the state to get off its arse...



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