There's a lot to talk about in regards to the Virginia Tech shooting that happened early yesterday, but I want to get into just one aspect of it, namely the political back and forth on gun control.
I caught a few minutes of Rosie O'Donnell on "The View" this morning. She was talking about the shooting, reiterating her support of a near-total ban on guns (though she did say she wasn't for taking guns away from hunters, but I'm not sure where she draws the line exactly). Tonight on Charlie Rose, I listened to Brian Williams reporting via satellite from Virginia Tech, relating a question he asked the President today about where we are on the gun control debate. In essence, he asked if the rights of gun-owners should supercede those of students to a safe and secure learning environment during what, as Williams kept saying, "should be the best years of their lives." Shortly thereafter a Washington Post reporter talked about a lawsuit the gun lobby brought against the Virginia University system not long ago targeting the University's prohibition of all weapons from campus, saying it violated the 2nd amendment rights of teachers and students. An unnamed gun lobbyist went on to say, in light of what happened yesterday, that the incident proved that their lawsuit was right. Had the teachers and students in those classrooms been armed, it never would have gone as far as it did. It seems both Rosie and the unnamed gun lobbyist are living in their own fantasy worlds.
When Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold picked their way through the halls of Columbine High School with assault rifles, I thought that was a fairly clear-cut case for the banning of public ownership of automatic machine guns. The siege in North Hollywood not long after made the case more succinctly. What possible reason, after all, would a person need a street sweeper-style machine gun for? Or armor-piercing bullets? For the impending declaration of Martial Law and all of the so-called "jackbooted thugs" marching down Main Street demanding subservience to a New World Order? It seems that many of the most virulent gun-advocates on the right are possessed of a deep-seated paranoia that leads them to advocate really bad policy.
But yesterday's violence was done with two handguns, not assault rifles. Where then is the law-making impulse of government to direct itself? Should we then ban all public ownership of handguns? Maybe we'd do that as well as we've managed to ban all sale of heroin and coke, or alcohol during Prohibition. How long after that would some maniac kill another 33 people with a hunting rifle (didn't that happen once in Texas?). What would our governments decide to do then? Ban all rifles? Maybe I'm being simplistic here, and the only real advocates for wholesale banning of all guns are folks like Rosie O'Donnell and some others on the left, but I'm not quite sure where gun control arguments logically enter into the debate after this most recent violence. The killer bought both of his guns legally, waiting out the 30-day waiting period meant to weed out crime of passion shooters. He was of age and he had no flags on his background. These were clean buys. He was not a citizen, per se, but he was a legal resident, which, as far as I know, confers many of the same rights. Maybe the guv'mint could make a law making it illegal to sell to a non-citizen, but what would that do? Make it more difficult for a non-citizen to buy a gun and go on a rampage? That would do really great at making sure something EXACTLY like this never happened again.
What happened at Virginia Tech yesterday was senseless and isolated. It doesn't seem to be indicative of some larger trend, nor does it illuminate some fixable flaw in the system that can be addressed by our elected officials. Bad as it is, this incident seems like a horrific act of gun violence that defies fresh debate on the pros and cons of gun control. I think there's much more debate to be had about guns -- regulating gun shows, requiring child-proof trigger locks on handguns, etc. -- but yesterday's violence moves the debate forward only minimally.
Anyway. Blah blah blah. More tomorrow.