Saturday, July 21, 2012

Renewed Calls for Gun Control

I recently did a count, crunched some numbers, and came up with an estimate that in this blog I have written one third of a million words, not counting the comments section ("oh, you can't count the comments!" David  Bordwell said to me when I reported this factoid to him).  

By now I must have written on every single topic that I find interesting or important.

I was thinking of blogging about the renewed calls for gun control in the wake of the Aurora CO murders, but I realized I had already written about renewed calls for gun control in the wake of a mass murder.  That was in April of 2007, when another maniac killed even more people on the campus of Virginia Tech.  Here are some of my comments.  I think that with some obvious adjustments they are applicable here.

(Warning:  Some of the ideas expressed below will shock and offend some people.  At least, they did the first time I posted them.)

The idea behind theses calls for more gun control is pretty simple:  we have a problem here, and the problem is guns. The guns are the problem.

In a way, this is obviously true. Those people were killed with a gun. What may be a little less obvious, though, is that guns might be part of the solution as well. Notice that not one of the thirty three murder victims was armed. Is there any doubt that if even one of them had been, the outcome would have been less horrible than it was?

This a particularly poignant question, because in 2005 there was a bill in Virginia that would have allowed students with concealed-carry permits to bring their guns on campus, but it died in committee. (Hat-tip to historian David Beito here.) The victims of this atrocity had been deliberately disarmed by their own government. Adding horribly to the irony of this is the fact that one Larry Hincker, a Virginia Tech spokesperson, praised the death of this bill:
"I'm sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly's actions," Hincker said on Jan. 31, 2006, "because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus.
"Feel safe," maybe. But isn't being safe more important?

Notice that these shooting sprees are only ever seem to occur in places like schools, playgrounds, fast food restaurants, post offices. Why is there never a huge murderous rampage in a bar? Bars are full of people with poor impulse control. They have been working for hours at reducing their impulse control, shrinking their profit-horizons, and trashing their ability to distinguish right from wrong. Why don't you ever see the headline, "33 Killed in Saloon Rampage"?

There is a pretty obvious answer. The people in a bar may not be the nicest or most rational people in the world, but they all know that the bartender probably has a gun and a baseball bat behind the bar. They also know that he (or she!) would be happy to use them in order to maintain good order and public peace.

These killers go into schools and playgrounds because they feel safe there. Don't you think it is time to interfere with their government-given sense of security? If an armed professor or student had brought the Blacksburg killer down, it would have saved innocent lives immediately. It would also have given the next insane murderer reason to pause and go elsewhere, or maybe just to either seek help or keep his evil thoughts to himself.