Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Va. Tech and Guns

I do not appreciate false or otherwise overstated empathy so pardon the lack of deep reflection in this post in regard to yesterday's tragedy in Blacksburg, VA. While it was a terrible and awful event that has had a personal effect on me, I have no desire to engage in the projected mourning of people completely removed from the situation that is now oozing out of television sets across the country and globe. Frankly, I think such empty emotion is a far greater insult to those immediately affected by this heinous act than my dispassionate recognition of it could ever be.
So, as America comes to terms with what happened yesterday, the focus will undoubtedly shift to the type of weapon Seung-Hui Cho used to murder 32 people - a firearm. In between the celebrity journalists seeking stories from and about the victims -- pundits, advocates and others have already begun to blame firearms for the senseless violence. Invariably, this shift will intensify as the network media need to find more angles to keep the story fresh.
I will grant that the number of victims was increased by the use of firearms as opposed to, say a knife or baseball bat. Yet, it could have conceivably been much worse had he been able to create and deploy explosives or poison gas --using materials which could be found in his home, at a hardware store or at a chemistry lab on campus.
It is horrible to contemplate yesterday's act-let alone one with a higher death or injury toll- but if a discussion to the cause of the carnage is to be serious, it must take other possibilities into account. The fact remains that blaming the weapon(s) for the crime in this case would be similar (on a much smaller scale) to blaming airplanes for 9/11. If someone is hell-bent on doing something and can plan effectively enough, more restrictive laws on firearms--the ends pursued by gun control advocates--will hardly be an effective deterrent toward stopping him.
We, as a nation, have to realize that we are products of a gun culture. Whatever your interpretation of the 2nd Amendment leads you to believe, a right to a gun has been ingrained into the nation's collective psyche. Stripping that mentality away will not come with laws - no matter how hard one tries. (if we could effect minds by legislation, racism would have ended with the passing of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments in the mid-19th century) The effects of widespread gun control take firearms out of the hands of law-abiding citizens while leaving the criminals at a decided advantage. While I think the proponents of gun control are well-meaning, this result is in no one's best interest - save armed criminals.
My point is this: don't get caught up in the emotional coverage of yesterday's tragedy and lose your moorings. Using an aberrant and abhorrant tragedy to guide public policy is destined to result in the punishment of honest citizens while yielding few - if any - positive results.

Losing sight of this principle gave us the Patriot Act. Let's not make the same mistake again...

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