When It Comes to Guns, Virginia Can’t Get Out of the News

This is the kind of story you don’t read every day. The plot points:

1. Mayor Bloomberg of New York City sued two gun shops in Virginia, as part of his effort to stop guns being illegally imported to New York.

2. A gun-rights group called the Virginia Citizens Defense League mounted a fundraiser for the two gun shops, planning to raffle off two guns.

3. Government officials declared the raffle a violation of state gambling laws, so the V.C.D.L. instead made the gun giveaway open to the public. By now it was called the “Bloomberg Gun Giveaway,” and was held at a Fairfax County government building.

4. The two guns — a Para-Ordnance pistol and a Varmint Stalker rifle — were given away last night. Here’s what the A.P. reported:

The first winner, Jay Minsky, responded with an obscene hand gesture when asked what message he hoped to send to Bloomberg. “If he doesn’t like people in New York having guns, he should deal with New York,” said Minsky, who grew up in Brooklyn. “Just keep out of Virginia.”

5. Some people protested the gun giveaway, including the parents of some of the victims in the Virginia Tech shooting. “We’re not here to have a debate,” said one father. “We’re here to witness for our daughter. The victims need to be witnessed to. People of the commonwealth can make intelligent decisions about what’s right.”

Between this event, the Virginia Tech massacre, and a local gun tempest I blogged earlier, it seems that the people of the commonwealth suddenly stand at the very center of the everlasting U.S. gun debate.


hyrumberg

What were the parents of the killed children witnessing to? Where they trying to accomplish something by watching the gun giveaway?

WheelCipher

This is still a very emotional issue, but what it comes down to is that the law and the judge that the shooter stood in front of due to mental 'issues' failed everyone. If a person is ill enough to be brought in front of a judge to begin with, they should be put on the mental health list that would have prevented this shooter from buyin g a gun. That didn't happen. There is no gain in modifying the rights of legal gun owners. If the law and those who practice it would be prudent in their decisions, this would not have happened. (WheelCipher.net)

frankenduf

this reminds me of the bank gun giveaway as chronicled by Michael Moore in Bowling for Columbine

CivilianJones

The lack of armed civilians is what made V-Tech a massacre, and not just one mentally disturbed kid who was stopped before anyone got hurt. In previous attempted shootings, armed civilians have stopped the shooter, without even firing weapons.

I think that if someone feels responsible enough to own a gun, they should be allowed to.

pjc

Civilian Jones,
I would like to know more about previous attempted shootings in which armed civilians have stopped the shooter. I don't know of any?

WheelCipher

http://tinyurl.com/3aqbaw
http://tinyurl.com/3c43lh
http://tinyurl.com/2vrv2f
http://tinyurl.com/3d7j8a
http://tinyurl.com/35eess

There is five for you. The sad part is that there are way too many criminals that get the upper hand because people think it won't happen to them, or they don't expect to be a victim of a random crime. When people don't bring their guns onto college property and other places where these shootings usually occur, it's because they are abiding by laws that only help the deranged and the criminal.

Here is another story of someone who wishes they had a gun, but the law (at the time) prevented her from taking it into the place where she was eating lunch. http://www.gunownersalliance.com/hupp-10.htm

The list goes on and on. Just because you don't hear about shootings where armed civilians stop the crime being perpetrated against them in no way means it doesn't happen. It happens. Every day.

Oh yeah ... here are some more: http://www.nrapublications.org/armed%20citizen/Index.asp

Check out some NRA or Justice Dept. statistics. They don't make those up.

(WheelCipher.net)

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strusins

"I think that if someone feels responsible enough to own a gun, they should be allowed to."

I think Cho thought he was responsible enough to own a gun.

For every case when someone wishes they had a gun, it'd be far easier to find nine cases where someone wishes there hadn't been a gun around.

WheelCipher

It's easy to say that if you've never been a victim of a violent crime that could have been stopped had the victim or someone around them been armed and able to stop the crime. What Cho thought is not important since we know he was over the edge to begin with. But he did have the clarity to know that he could have taken out the whole campus if he wanted to because nobody there would be in a position to defend themselves. That's not the first time it's happened and it won't be the last. Anywhere that is a known gun-free zone is prime real estate for those random instances where people want to blame the world for their own problems.

You've never heard of an armed rampage taking place at a police station, gun show, or other places where the crazed person's "mission" will be inhibited in the early stages.

You should read this: http://hobbes.ncsa.uiuc.edu/onsheepwolvesandsheepdogs.html

RealityCheque

I am sick and tired of hearing people say "if only the students had guns" at Virginia Tech. Why on earth would you expect the outcome to have been any different? What logic underlies that thought? What makes you think that the mere presence of one more guy with a gun would have tipped the balance?

Put it another way: do we just hand our police officers guns and put them on the street? Do we just hand our soldiers guns and send them to Iraq?

We certainly do not. In addition to the guns, we give them comprehensive TRAINING so that they'll actually make a positive difference in any situation they find themselves in.

Would any of the students at VT have had that level of training? No. They would have been nervous when faced with an unfamiliar threat. One misaimed shot is all it would take to turn a would-be armed student hero into a murderer in his own right.

None of those home invasion scenarios that were posted earlier can even compare to the VT massacre, for the simple reason that there were no bystanders -- they were black and white cases of who should and shouldn't be there. VT was altogether different -- so much so that there are law enforcement agencies training right now so that they'll be prepared if it happens again in their town.

How many typical gun owners get that kind of training? None. Just a safety class and that's it.

I teach at one of the top universities in the US, and I can tell you without reservation that the last people on earth I'd want to see with guns are my students. Any of them. My colleagues would be a very close second. The people who clamor to see armed students must either be 18-22 year olds who think they're the next Rambo (or Master Chief), or people who haven't actually dealt with any 18-22 year olds in a long time.

More guns aren't the answer. A better trained and prepared police force is. The 18th century was a long time ago.

And before you assume anything about me or my politics, you should know that I'm a gun owner who shoots regularly. I also have a keen sense of my own limitations.

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WheelCipher

If you had a concealed handgun license from any state, you'd know that comprehensive training is a requirement. Not to mention that those who do get the license are usually practice on a fairly regular basis.

I think your academic application to this problem is blinding your ability to see the common sense side of things. The police (no matter how well they are trained) have NO obligation what so ever to protect you. Read the law.

I hate the fact that it might have taken a college student with a gun to stop this madness, but we can only hypothesize now. More guns is NOT the answer...you are correct. But until the government removes every criminal, potential criminal, crazed freak with a deranged thought process, and all threats from society, I'll keep mine, thanks. All the while hoping that I NEVER have to use it. But being glad I do have it "just in case".

WheelCipher

You've never heard of an armed rampage taking place at a police station, gun show, or other places where the crazed person's "mission" will be inhibited in the early stages.

You should read this: http://hobbes.ncsa.uiuc.edu/onsheepwolvesandsheepdogs.html

RealityCheque

WheelCipher-

I'm familiar with your vaunted concealed carry training courses in two different states. They are a joke. They are certainly not counterterrorism courses -- and this is essentially what would have been required at VT.

As for the obligation of the police: my students, or colleagues, or the university itself for that matter are under no obligation to protect me, either. What's your point? That we all have to look out for number one and pack heat? Remember Kant's categorical imperative? Would society really be safer if we all had guns? Or would we devolve into anarchy?

Also don't forget: Cho wasn't a criminal. Prior to the day itself, he would have been just another one of your gun-toting citizens. It's a tragic fact of life that some people just snap under the pressures they face these days. I'd just as soon have it that they didn't have a gun conveniently stored in their backpack when they do.

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WheelCipher

If nobody (police, students, etc...) are under no obligation to protect you, then we can agree that it is a personal responsibility. To address your previous points: No matter how trained the police were, they would not have been able to stop the VT incident. The law failed. The judge that saw Cho and didn't commit him for a mental eval failed. Training to be prepared for the "next one" is locking the barn after the horse is gone. Hopefully it won't happen again.

If you decide not to "pack heat", then you have made a decision. I respect that. Much in the same way that I choose to carry my firearm. We're VERY unlikely to be a victim of violent crime, but I still like to be prepared. Self-preservation is a big thing with me.

As for Kant's Categorical Imperative, it had some good points, but does not address society as we've evolved since the mid-late 1700's when he wrote that. Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch also has some good points, but is also outdated. Society has taken a turn. I don't know when it happened, but you or I didn't have anything to do with it. We just adapt in the best way(s) we know how.

Check out hobbes.ncsa.uiuc.edu/onsheepwolvesandsheepdogs.html

Where do you stand?

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RealityCheque

If we have "evolved" to the point where we all have to carry guns to protect ourselves, then our society is significantly worse off than it was when the Second Amendment was framed in the first place. Furthermore, if that were true, it would imply that the American Experiment was a failure.

If the society that created the Second Amendment was a much more rational and responsible society than our own, does it follow that we've actually devolved to the point where we no longer deserve the right to own guns?

I'm asking...

BRKelley

Most qualification courses for state concealed carry permits are the basic minimum. However, most gun owners exceed those standards by sheer practice.

What would it have taken to stop the VT killer? A double-tap to the sternum. Two-shots, center of mass, easily achievable in 1-2 seconds.

The VT killer was not an expert shot, nor were his weapons unusual. He fired more than 100 rounds of ammo, yet had a kill ratio of less than 30 percent. How many of those students died with the first shot? Pope John Paul II took three shots from a 9mm and lived to tell the tale.

Had one student with adequate training, an adequate caliber weapon and the opportunity to stop this massacre, as they did in Appalachia School of Law, this all could have been avoided.

As for the grieving students, I can only say that its a good thing VT is a "no-gun" zone, otherwise someone seriously could've gotten hurt.

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WheelCipher

Guns were carried for protection a LONG time before the Constitution was written. And the founding fathers thought it important enough of an issue that they guaranteed it in the Constitution. You should know that much. If you teach at a major university, I am going to assume you at least have a Masters degree (albeit not in US history I am going to presume).

The only thing that has changed is the number of guns available, and the type of crimes that go on. You also have to keep in mind that the law has also evolved to deal with issues of crime and how it relates to the use of firearms.

Society is much better now than it was when the 2nd Amendment was written. But at the same time, it's all about perspective. If you want to think that we've resorted to walking on all fours and living in caves because society has the right to carry a firearm for protection, then so be it.

I tend to look at it from a more practical view: (1) There are criminals. (2) They usually act in random, unpredictable ways when committing violent crimes on other people. (3) Nobody else on the face of the planet is responsible for my safety or the safety of my family. Only me. (4) The Constitution gives me the right to bear arms. (5) Texas law allows me to use deadly force to protect myself against these dregs.

If you (or anyone else) choose not to carry firearms, then I respect that. But don't assume that we as a society have degraded because other people choose not to be a victim. I always hear the argument that people like me are "extreme" or "radical" because we carry guns, and that we should not expect to get into a situation where we would have to protect ourselves or other innocent lives.

I just remind you that the people at VT, Luby's in Killeen, TX (October 16, 1991), Columbine High School, Amish School Shooting (October 2, 2006), The Wakefield massacre in Boston (December 26, 2000) where 7 people died, Long Island Railroad Massacre (1994), et. al. blah blah blah ... They were all attacked by crazy/disgruntled/unstable people, and the one thing they ALL have in common: They didn't expect to be killed that day. But it still happened.

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indi500fan

We carried guns back in the 60s in college when there was racial rioting in Detroit and Flint. Back then it wasn't a big deal at all. My fraternity house looked like an armory.
Instead of "gun free zone" we should call campuses "whack job free fire zones".

CTD

That day in Virginia, the Jedi-ninjas drawing a government paycheck, who are the only ones who can be trusted with firearms, hid behind trees while they decided what to do, while students were being slaughtered inside.

Cho killed himself when, and only when, he realized that armed men were (finally) coming after him. He wasn't looking for a gunfight. He was looking for a group of unarmed victims to murder. He was looking for a "gun-free" zone.

To deny citizens the right to defend themselves is to violate the most vital of civil rights.

RealityCheque

1) Actually "most" gun owners -- consider how many there are for a moment -- just keep guns sitting around and never do anything with them. The ones who practice regularly do so against paper targets. I'm a fantastic shot at 200m with a rifle in the prone position, and I'm pretty good with a target pistol at 50-100 m. Does that mean I would know exactly what to do like John McClane when my classroom is threatened by a random shooter? An extra gun in untrained or untested hands has much, much more potential to cause harm than good in this situation. Those of you who believe otherwise have seen too many movies.

2) The armed student who actually defused the Appalachia School of Law incident was an off duty police officer -- and he managed to do so without actually shooting the assailant. See what I mean about the value of training? If he hadn't been there -- if it had just been the regular student with a gun -- anything could have happened. Maybe the guy could have taken out the assailant, and maybe he would have gotten himself killed. At best, when two armed men square off, the outcome is 50-50. Marksmanship training alone isn't enough to increase those odds -- the real determining factors are all psychological, and THAT'S the kind of training I'm talking about.

(For the record, if I had an off-duty police officer in one of my classes, I'd be fine with him being armed -- it's the younger students I wouldn't trust. And why should I? Statistically speaking, I'm more likely to be shot by one of my students than defended by one.)

3) I would be the first one to admit that the "Jedi-ninjas" dropped the ball at Virginia Tech: in this day and age, it's not good enough to secure the perimeter and wait for SWAT. Once two or three of them assembled, they should have gone in.

Virginia Tech should be a wake-up call to American colleges and universities. Do you know that at my university, not a single professor is trained in any kind of emergency response management? What are we supposed to do if we hear shots in the hall? Right now, it's left to our best judgment whether we try to hold out in place or make a run for it -- there's not even so much as a suggested procedure, as far as I'm aware. We're more trained in avoiding sexual harassment than in emergency procedures. Heck, I don't even know where to go in the event of a tornado at the building I'm teaching in right now! Most Americans -- even the ones who went to college -- aren't aware of what college is really like. They think it's like a big high school. It's not -- it's a free-for-all.

In my opinion, there are three things that could prevent another college massacre:

- giving the faculty some semblance of basic emergency response training, so we'll actually have a plan to go on when something happens. (And knowing the characters involved, I'd welcome any plan over their best judgment any day.)

- installing computer-monitored surveillance cameras in all the academic building hallways. They're cheap, there's no expectation of privacy in a hallway, and they can easily pinpoint the location of an incident so first responders can be dispatched.

- changing the police operating procedures to prioritize immediate incursion against a shooter.

No posted security guards (= first victims) and certainly no armed students or faculty. Unless they've been to Iraq and back, none of them would know what to do with a gun when they're actually under fire. They would be much more likely to injure or kill an innocent bystander -- or get themselves killed and put yet another loaded gun in the hands of a rampaging lunatic.

I'll say it again: real life isn't like the movies.

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WheelCipher

To address your points one by one: Life is not "Die Hard". Most gun fights take place at 3-7 feet. That's what most people (including police) are trained for. A majority of the VT students were shot from that range.

As far as you saying "At best, when two armed men square off, the outcome is 50-50. Marksmanship training alone isn't enough to increase those odds — the real determining factors are all psychological". You could not be more wrong. In my case, it's going to be 90/10 in my favor, because I have extensive training, and the dreg trying to rob/kill/hurt me probably hasn't had the training and doesn't know what to expect. They expect the victim to roll over and give up. When the perp gets a gun pointed at his empty skull, things change. You should REALLY read up on this before you speak about it. Google "massad ayoob" and read everything you can.

As far as "training" goes, if you are on campus when a shooting starts, you should run. There isn't much else to do except wait around like sheep for the slaughter because nobody is allowed to protect themselves on the campus. Personally, if someone was trying to kill me, I'd take an armed, albeit inexperienced shooter from college over someone with no gun at all. Some chance is better than none. If you are so against students having guns (trained or not) then you have just classified yourself as someone who would rather have no method of defense as opposed to at least some chance at survival.

Surveillance cameras will only capture the act on video for the enjoyment of the news organizations. Installing cameras prevents absolutely nothing from happening. Think about it.

And I do speak from experience... Military Police (US Army), Sniper, former handgun instructor, Texas Department of Public Safety certified, recreational shooter for 20 years, and I've forgot more information that most people will ever know about personal confrontation and the use of firearms. I've also had opportunities to utilize the skills I mention in real life. And I'm still alive.

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