Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Gun Control

I've been absolutely horrified by the events in Virginia Tech. Whenever 33 people die in an accident, it's a tragedy. But when 33 people are murdered executioner-style at point blank range by a deranged kid who should have been under pyschiatric care long ago, it's a tragedy of unspeakable proportions. I cannot imagine how the parents and families of the murdered children and teachers are handling the events, but I'm fairly certain the question in their minds is "Why? Why my son/ daughter/ brother/ sister/ father/ mother? What did they do to deserve this?" And that's a question I doubt we'll ever see answered.

I don't want to talk about the shooter - the media's already covered his story and his descent into madness. A lot of the focus, however, is on the fact that this person was obviously able to purchase two different types of firearms. From what I understand, he was under psychiatric care all of 1 day, so that may not have appeared for some reason. In addition, he had no prior criminal history.

Overall, I feel that gun control legislation works. 5 day waiting periods, required background checks, transfer systems for mail ordering guns - these are all checks and balances that have worked. I'm certain the waiting periods alone have eliminated a great number "crimes of passion".

I do find it interesting when others speculate how differently things would have turned out if one of the victims had a weapon of his own. I personally think that one of the reasons Cho chose a second school location was that he knew that everyone there would be unarmed and have no chance at stopping him.

I have a Concealed Carry license, and while I don't carry constantly, it is good to know that if I feel I am entering an uncomfortable situation I can bring a weapon along with me legally. I've had a gun pulled on me before; it's not fun, especially when you're unarmed. But I walked away. Unfortunately for the victims, VaTech's regulations prohibit bringing a weapon on campus . I don't blame them for the regulation - really, how many people do you think went to school that day expecting to be caught in a firefight? I still don't think guns should be allowed anywhere near a school campus, but those theories bring up interesting "what if's".

I just hope this tragedy doesn't bring around an overreaction from the gun control enthusiasts. Cho was a disturbed individual, and the tragedy here is that he was still on the street despite the numerous warning signs. It's not a good sign when your own grandfather is glad you're dead.

I've just seen too many news reports which make all gun owners appear like a bunch of whackjobs who go around randomly waving pistols at people. Gun control is not just about controlling who buys guns, it's about assuming personal responsibility for the weapons you have. All of the gun owners I know are rabidly responsible about their weapons and how they're handled. Unfortunately, it's the irresponsible minority that make the news.

I personally own a few guns which I've collected for their historical value. Most are Soviet World War II and Cold War pieces, which I consider interesting time capsules from bygone eras. All are pre-1970, with the youngest being a Makarov 9x18mm I use for Concealed Carry. Second to the pen, weapons have been the tool most responsible for changing the course of history - for better or for worse. I read a lot of non-fiction historical books; being able to own one of these pieces really brings history to life (pun intended).

I hope that the legislators and investigators focus on what the real problem was instead of laying blame on guns, or video games, or some other excuse to try and justify this kid's actions.