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the pistolero
April 19, 2007, 10:40 PM
Thoughts of a gun owner on the massacre at Virginia Tech (http://www.orangeleader.com/opinion/local_story_109210144.html?keyword=topstory)

Thoughts of a gun owner on the massacre at Virginia Tech



By Erik Onstott

The Orange Leader



The irony and infuriation abound in the wake of the recent Virginia Tech shootings.

According to the Houston Chronicle on Tuesday, the British newspaper the Daily Mail published a story headlined, “What price the right to bear arms?” This had to be perhaps the most sickening irony seen in print in recent history because Virginia Tech regulations essentially deny the school’s students that right. The pertinent Virginia Tech regulation states: “Unauthorized possession, storage (in vehicles as well as residence halls) or control of firearms and weapons on university property is prohibited.”

The policy applies to concealed-weapon permit holders as well, and violation of the policy is an expellable offense. In short, Virginia Tech is one of those gun-free zones the anti-gun forces in the U.S. and around the world claim are so much safer.

Count among those individuals Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker. After a bill that would have given college students and employees the right to carry a sidearm on campus died in the Virginia Legislature in January of last year, Hincker said in the Roanoke Times, “...(T)his will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus.”

It would seem recent events show such a feeling to be a naive and dangerous delusion — that these “gun-free zones” are more accurately called “target-rich environments.”

As for the infuriation, we can look to Australia, as Prime Minister John Howard said that after a killing spree in his country in 1996, “We showed a national resolve that the gun culture that is such a negative in the United States would never become a negative in our country.”

Every time I see such sentiments expressed, the only thing I can do is shake my head and grind my teeth — because as a member of the “gun culture” Howard so cluelessly derides, I take such statements personally. People who make such asinine statements don’t have the first accurate idea as to what the American “gun culture” is really like. To a man and woman we’re some of the kindest, most hospitable people you could ever hope to meet. And as a member of that “gun culture,” I find it profoundly offensive that a man of John Howard’s stature — who should know better — would level such a disgusting slander at me and my people.

It’s quite comforting to know, however, that Howard is proven wrong countless times every day by the actions of millions of people who carry and/or own guns in the United States. It’s estimated that between 50 million and 80 million people in the U.S. own guns; when compared to the approximately 11,000 murders committed each year with firearms in this nation, it puts into stark relief the law-abiding nature of American gun owners. The murder statistic is a tragedy indeed — but it’s not the fault of the American gun culture, Howard’s shamefully distorted view of said culture notwithstanding.

And here’s why. In the words of libertarian essayist Eric S. Raymond,“There is a 3 percent or so of psychotics, drug addicts and criminal deviants who are incapable of the dignity of free men....But for the other 97 percent, the bearing of arms functions not merely as an assertion of power but as a fierce and redemptive discipline. When sudden death hangs inches from your right hand, you become much more careful, more mindful, and much more peaceful in your heart — because you know that if you are thoughtless or sloppy in your actions or succumb to bad temper, people will die.”

Far from being a negative influence, the American gun culture is arguably one of the most positive influences on American youth to be found. Far from being a culture of death, destruction, and nihilism, the American gun culture is one of liberty, self-reliance and assumption of personal responsibility — values as wholesome and as quintessentially American as Mom, baseball and apple pie. We should keep Howard’s distorted views in mind whenever President Bush refers to him as a faithful ally of the American people — because what Howard supports, more or less, is turning us as American citizens into sheep and leaving us vulnerable to the wolves that walk among us.

Not many will acknowledge it, but ultimately, the responsibility for our personal security lies with us as individuals — not with the police or any other government agency. In fact, the courts have ruled as much more than once.

One of the most appalling stories of the failure of the police to protect individuals is that of Carolyn Warren, Joan Taliaferro and Miriam Douglas. On March 16, 1975, they were asleep in their apartment when two men, Marvin Kent and James Morse, broke in and raped Douglas. Warren called the police, told them her home was being burglarized and asked for immediate assistance. She and Taliaferro then climbed on the roof. The police came to Warren’s residence, knocked on the door and left when they got no answer; shortly before that, a police officer drove by Warren’s house without even stopping. The three women were eventually forced at knifepoint to accompany their captors to the captors’ apartment. In the words of the facts of the case as laid out in the court’s decision, “for the next fourteen hours the women were held captive, raped, robbed, beaten, forced to commit sexual acts upon each other, and made to submit to the sexual demands of Kent and Morse.”

Warren and her two housemates sued the District of Columbia and the D.C. Metropolitan Police for failing to protect them. The case, Warren v. District of Columbia, made it to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals; the court ruled against Warren. In its decision, the court said, “Courts have without exception concluded that when a municipality or other governmental entity undertakes to furnish police services, it assumes a duty only to the public at large and not to individual members of the community.”

How do the Virginia Tech shootings relate to this? The answer is that just as the Washington police failed Warren, the Virginia Tech police failed the Hokie student body. It should be noted, however, that this is an inherent disadvantage of relying on the police for your protection — they can’t be everywhere at once, and in many instances they get there only after the mayhem starts, or after it is done. The Virginia Tech students were, if you’ll pardon the expression, sitting ducks. They were compelled by Virginia Tech regulations to put their safety in others’ hands, and 33 Hokies paid for that with their lives. The Virginia Tech shootings, if there’s any justice in the world, will put to rest once and for all the foolish notion that outsourcing our security to someone else with a weapon — as opposed to wielding that weapon ourselves — is the path we as humans should take.

However, that viewpoint may well be too optimistic, in light of similar incidents over the last couple of decades. The Luby’s massacre in Killeen comes to mind, as does the Long Island commuter train shooting and, of course, Columbine. Advocates of tighter gun laws were saying the same things after these incidents as well, little was changed either way, and the slaughters continued. If we as a society are ever going to make ourselves safer, we would do well to heed the words of ex-Army Ranger Dave Grossman:

“Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds.”

Furthermore, with that indisputable fact in mind, we would arm ourselves accordingly, with the tools, the training and the mindset to combat that evil. That includes allowing students and staff with concealed handgun permits to carry their weapons on campus to defend themselves and their fellow students from, among other things, evil such as the Virginia Tech killer. We know the story. Every time another state proposes a concealed-carry permit law, the anti-gunners trot out the same old lines about blood running in the streets, an epidemic of road-rage shootings and such — and every single time they are proven wrong.

We must get over our fear of our friends and neighbors taking responsibility for their personal safety by wielding instruments of lethal force. Far from fearing them, we should emulate them. We’ll never know if a concealed weapon permit holder could have stopped the Tech massacre, but the results of disarming the law-abiding were all too clear Monday morning. How many more innocents will die before we finally learn once and for all the terrible consequences of victim disarmament?

Reach this reporter at 409-883-3571, Ext. 2616, or eonstott@orangeleader.com.

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Rocketman56
April 19, 2007, 11:53 PM
That was a Wow!!:what:

I hope that letter gets reprinted in other places..
It should be added to the list of classics.. Bravo!

Night!
Steve

CanonNinja
April 20, 2007, 12:04 AM
it's too bad Houston houses such anti-semitic/anti-2A/anti-white Democrats here, because something like that would never get posted in our local media :(

People like Sheila Jackson-Brown disgust me and upset the political balance so much here... Harris and Tarrant county officials seem like the only dems in the state to openly oppose the 2nd Amendment

Autolycus
April 20, 2007, 02:50 AM
it's too bad Houston houses such anti-semitic/anti-2A/anti-white Democrats here, because something like that would never get posted in our local media :(

People like Sheila Jackson-Brown disgust me and upset the political balance so much here... Harris and Tarrant county officials seem like the only dems in the state to openly oppose the 2nd Amendment
What do you mean anti-white? Or anti-semite? I didnt see anything about race or religion in the article.

CanonNinja
April 20, 2007, 11:54 AM
What do you mean anti-white? Or anti-semite? I didnt see anything about race or religion in the article.
I'm saying that a lot of the people in office here in Houston are so twisted up in anti-everything that something like this article would never get printed or even thought of here

eric.cartman
April 20, 2007, 12:12 PM
Found this today :-)

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