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Reason Magazine: The Gun Ban and the Gunman

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Justin, Apr 18, 2007.

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  1. Justin

    Justin Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 29, 2002
    Jacob Sullum does an excellent job pointing out how concealed carry could have reduced the number of victims at VT.

    The Gun Ban and the Gunman

    Virginia Tech's gun-free zone left Cho Seung-Hui's victims defenseless.

    Jacob Sullum | April 18, 2007

    Last year Virginia legislators considered a bill that would have overridden policies at public universities that prohibit students and faculty members with concealed handgun permits from bringing their weapons onto campus. After the bill died in committee, The Roanoke Times reported, Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker welcomed its defeat, saying, "I'm sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly's actions because this will help parents, students, faculty, and visitors feel safe on our campus."

    Maybe Hincker was right. But as Monday's horrifying mass murder at Virginia Tech vividly demonstrated, there is a difference between feeling safe and being safe. The university's gun ban not only did nothing to protect people at the school; it left them defenseless as a cold-blooded gunman methodically killed 32 of them over the course of two and a half hours.

    If some students and faculty members had access to guns during the attack, there's a good chance they could have cut it short. According to witnesses, the killer—identified by police as Cho Seung-Hui, a senior studying English—took his time and paused repeatedly for a minute or so to reload.

    In shootings at other schools, armed students or employees have restrained gunmen, possibly preventing additional murders. Four years ago at Appalachian Law School in Grundy, Virginia, a man who had killed the dean, a professor, and a student was subdued by two students who ran to their cars and grabbed their guns. In 1997 an assistant principal at a public high school in Pearl, Mississippi, likewise retrieved a handgun from his car and used it to apprehend a student who had killed three people.

    Not only can guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens save lives in situations like these; they may even make such situations less likely. It may seem implausible that the possibility of armed victims would deter a seemingly irrational, suicidal attacker such as Cho, who ended his attack by shooting himself in the head. But even a gunman who expects to die during an attack does not want to be stopped before he can carry out his homicidal mission.

    In a 1999 paper, economists John Lott and William Landes presented evidence that such concerns do in fact deter attacks. Looking at public shootings with multiple victims between 1977 and 1995, Lott and Landes found they were substantially less common in states where law-abiding residents are allowed to carry handguns after meeting specified requirements such as a background check and firearms training.

    This difference remained even after Lott and Landes controlled for a variety of variables, such as population, poverty, and arrest rates, that might be expected to affect violent crime. They also found that attacks in states with relatively liberal carry permit policies tended to be less lethal, presumably because they are more often stopped by armed bystanders.

    In addition to illustrating the folly of gun-free zones, the Virginia Tech massacre shows the pointlessness of laws aimed at firearms that are said to be especially dangerous or especially useful to criminals. Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, responded to the Virginia Tech shootings by bemoaning "how easy it is for an individual to get powerful weapons in our country."

    Cho used two handguns, a .22 and a 9mm, neither of them especially powerful or exotic. Contrary to the false promises of gun controllers, firearms cannot be neatly sorted into "good" and "evil" categories; any weapon that can be used for self-defense (or for hunting) also can be used to murder people. A gun's specific features matter even less if the victims are unarmed.

    "We can't have an armed guard in front of every classroom every day of the year," Virginia Tech campus police chief Wendell Flinchum said after the shootings. Given the reality that police cannot be everywhere, it is unconscionable to disarm people who want to defend themselves.

    © Copyright 2007 by Creators Syndicate Inc.
  2. 30 cal slob

    30 cal slob Member

    Mar 2, 2004
    Location, Location!
    God this makes me so frustrated. If he took a minute to reload WHY DIDN'T SOMEBODY TACKLE HIM?
  3. coyote_jr

    coyote_jr member

    Jul 31, 2006
    Providence, RI
    I believe the football team was lifting at the time
  4. Shovelhead

    Shovelhead Member

    Apr 24, 2004
    Northern VA / Burkeville, VA
    Becuse this generation has been taught since birth that it's someone else's responsibility to protect them. :banghead:
  5. Deavis

    Deavis Member

    Nov 21, 2003
    Austin, Texas
    Easy, because of this attitude. Let me post it again.

    The murder of 32 people is tragic but you have to ask a question about their character. Old enough to be considered an adult but not old enough to act like one? Our country is full of people like that and I'm okay with people being cowards who want to make believe they live in a utopia. However those same people try to take away my right to self-defense. Cry and wait my turn to get executed by a lone gunman? I think not.
  6. gunNoob

    gunNoob Member

    Dec 1, 2006
    ^you just described my gf. She is into guns and all but some of the things she says and does makes me feel like she trusts every human being which is not how the world works.
  7. Bubbles

    Bubbles Member

    Apr 26, 2004
    Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia
    Sadly, one of the results of the "pussification" of our society is that people don't learn to shoot and how to handle firearms safely when they are children. It's quite likely that during the times when the shooter was reloading and unable to shoot, the people around him didn't realize that the shooter was vulnerable to attack at that point.

    The people on this board who know how semi-autos function would recognize that the pistol was little more than a rock during reloading, and would act accordingly.
  8. Joe Demko

    Joe Demko Member

    Dec 30, 2002
    Just two minutes from sanity.
    You've no idea what anybody from this board would do. You've no idea what you would do. You can talk about what you hope you would do and that, I think, is the extent of it.
  9. AJ Dual

    AJ Dual member

    Feb 20, 2003
    You're on to something here, but I think it's even more basic than that.

    When you shoot firearms, you get in innate sense of what they are, and what they can do. From the recoil in your hands, you have at least a subconscious idea of what a bullet impact might be like, and what it can do. Even if you intellectually still believe the Hollywood "thrown through the air" crap, your reflexes know better. You gain an instinctual understanding that a firearm is not a death-ray. When you've never handled a firearm, you only have the conglomeration of what you've seen in movies and television to guide your expectations.

    These kids were probably thinking "OH MY GOD! GUN!", in their minds it might as well have been "OH MY GOD! NUKE!", "OH MY GOD! ASTEROID!"… etc.

    What is a 9mm going to do if it hits you? Leave permanent vs. temporary wound channel, and hydrostatic shock, and all that other ballistics gel stuff aside for the moment. It's going to put a roughly 9mm hole in your body somewhere. If it's not your brain, spinal column, a major artery or heart, you're not going to die very soon, if at all. Running into gunfire, or chucking a chair or a book bag at a gunman is probably the hardest thing someone would have to ever do, but at least for someone who understands firearms and their real world limitations, it's not impossible.

    Keep in mind how long Platt and Matix were able to keep fighting and killing FBI agents in the infamous "Miami Shootout", even after they were veritable Swiss-cheese. They knew a gunshot wasn't invariably "insta-death" and they responded accordingly.
  10. SoCalShooter

    SoCalShooter Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    That's for me to know and not you!
    1 word is necessary SHEEPLE on average most people are sheeple there were a few heros who did their best to defend their class mates and I applaude them for doing so.

    The strange thing is that he did not seem to have the mags loaded.
  11. lance22

    lance22 Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Minn Uh So Tah
    Yeah, even if you are anti-gun, you can still get killed by a gun ... which is why all those Hollywood celebs who preach that "guns never make anyone safer" all spend big money on armed security guards so that "they can be safer"
  12. SWMAN

    SWMAN Member

    Jan 9, 2004
    Northern Virginia
    Why not? If campus policy denies VT students the right to be safe and defend themselves, how are they going to be protected from harm in the future? Obviously the VT campus policy on safety and security has a flaw in it.:cuss:
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