Monday, April 16, 2007

When the Going Gets Tough

This is no doubt one of the stories of the year in the making: Gunman kills 30 at Virginia Tech shooting. It is, the article reports, now the shooting spree with the largest death toll in US history.

In addition to the high body count, one thing that stands out about this one is the fact that it occurred in two "bursts" on opposite ends of the campus. The first one was at a dorm at 7:30. Police were investigating that incident two hours later when the second one started, about half a mile away at the other end of campus. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of information just yet - but they're saying 30 or so people were killed and another 26 injured.

The immediate political implications of this, of course, are going to be the usual calls for more gun control. President Bush knows this; his official statement on the incident affirms the Constitutional right of citizens to bear arms.

Thank God for that! I'm not a big fan of President Bush, but I will give credit where it is due. This administration is really the only one in living memory that understands the Second Amendment and has consistently fought to protect it. Here it is in plain English:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

A lot of ink has been spilled trying to read into this a collective right - but any honest interpretation will conclude that no such thing is written. The right to bear arms is clearly given to "the People," which, for those Democrats and Socialists who have forgotten (or don't want to remember), is all of us. "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State" is a modifier - it isn't the main clause. This gives the rationale behind securing this right to the People, perhaps, but it clearly does not restrict that right. People - individual people - have the right to bear arms - for self defense, for hunting and, most importantly, to resist the government should the need ever again arise.

I firmly believe that no free country can be without this basic right. I have independent reasons for disliking all of the Republican candidates for president in 2008 announced so far; this is the reason I will not end up voting for Giuliani. The man has a dismal record on Second Amendment issues.

I am concerned, as President Bush apparently is, and as the owner of the gunshop I visited on Friday clearly was, that a Democrat sweep in 2008 will be the beginning of the end of our Second Amendment freedoms. Incidents like this only give the fascists soundbyte fodder.

Naturally, I don't want to downplay the tragedy. 30 people dead is an awful lot, and the natural human instinct after such situations is to lose your cool and embrace any policy that promises to prevent future such issues.

Please - let's not lose our cool this time like we did after 9/11.

The best way to prevent future incidents like this is NOT to let the government take our guns away. There will always be guns floating around and always people with the opportunity to use them for things like this. Taking guns away from honest citizens does NOT prevent crime, it enables criminals. It is simple common sense that someone who will break the law to kill people will also break the law to obtain a gun. Now, granted, proponents of gun control argue - somewhat plausibly - that a general gun control regime will make guns harder to obtain and more expensive on the black market, thus also reducing the number of criminals who have them. That is certainly true - but the point is that such a regime absolutely - to 100% success - takes guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens - and it is those hands that need them the most.

Why, indeed, do you think these incidents tend to happen at schools more often than at other public places? For the simple reason, I suspect, that guns are banned on school property. A gunman wanting to pick off a boatload of people knows he's more likely to get away with it in such a place because there won't be anyone in the crowd packin' heat who can take him out. Before you lose your cool and trust the government to "protect" you from this kind of thing - consider whether it is even possible for a gunman to bring down 30 people in a heavily armed society. Pretty obviously, it is not.

If students in general on campus had guns, this sort of thing would be unthinkable. After the first shots went off, someone would have fired back. And it would have been their right to do so - because there are few, if any, rights more basic than the right to bodily self-defense when attacked. If you believe in this right (and you are hardly human if you do not), how can you honestly deny citizens the basic tools they need to exercise it? There is no other defense against a gunman than a gun. I can think of little that is more Orwellian than taking away, in the name of "protecting" them, the only possible thing that can help honest citizens defend themselves.

Notice that the police were not effective here. Notice that they arrived on the scene late, and that two hours later, while they were still investigating, the shooting started again. Nothing about anything they did stopped 30 people from being killed. Indeed - if reports are to be believed, the only thing that finally stopped the shooting was a policeman's bullet. That should not be the least bit surprising to anyone - a bullet is really the only thing that is effective against such a person. The tragedy is that one wasn't fired at him sooner.

I encourage anyone reading this - if you want to do something appropriate to prevent things like this happening in the future, do the following:

  1. Buy a handgun - it is your Constitutional right to own one. The government may not take this from you, and you do not have to apologize to anyone - not your friends, not your neighbors, not your coworkers, and sure as HELL not the police, for wanting to own the basic tools of self-defense. Indeed, you should be proud of owning one. The more of us "good guys" that own them, the safer the country is for everyone.

  2. Learn how to use it safely - ownership comes with responsibility. Fortunately for you, there is no shortage of courses available to help you learn how to shoot and store your weapon effectively and safely. Take advantage of them.

  3. Join the NRA - No other single lobby group has been more effective at securing this right for you than the NRA. Give them your support - they have helped you already more than you know.

I have let my own NRA membership lapse, and I'm really sorry I did. The membership signup form is here. I have just filled it out for a two-year membership. I suspect a showdown on this issue is coming soon, so please don't wait!!!


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