Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A solution for the murderous among us

While reflecting on the almost unspeakable tragedy at Virginia Tech on Monday, I couldn't help but wonder if our country's obsession with gun possession wasn't a major problem.

A disgruntled senior at the school has been identified as the killer, according to a report this morning by The Associated Press. Possessed with an inexplicable fury, the gunman killed 32 people at the school before turning the weapon on himself.

Here's a particularly chilling line from that story: "One law enforcement official said Cho (Seung-Hui) was carrying a backpack that contained receipts for a March purchase of a Glock 9 mm pistol."

I must admit, I'm nothing of an expert on guns (or much anything else), but a cursory Internet search shows that Glocks are most often used by cops or hunters trying to fend off large dangerous animals. For what reason would anyone without a badge ever need such a weapon?

Around the globe, many people today are rightfully questioning our country's gun culture, from the lax controls to the unfathomable availability of guns to some groups' unrelenting quest to arm seemingly every able-bodied adult.

For once, maybe we - as a country - should listen to reason from other, safer corners of the world.

Example: Britain, with about 53 million people and a place where handguns are illegal, recorded only 46 homicides in 2006. By comparison, New York City - a city of roughly 8 million - had 579 homicides.

The difference, at least to me, seems apparent. No one should be able to buy a gun as easily as they can purchase a car or a stereo or a cell phone. If certain drugs are off-limits to our citizens for their own protection, why wouldn't guns merit the same sort of restrictions?

We apparently need to protect ourselves from ourselves more than ever. Rolling back some of our gun rights would be a good place to start. How much tragedy could be averted throughout our country, let alone Virginia Tech, if we prohibited gun ownership?

For starters, maybe Cho Seung-Hui would never have had his chance to pick up a Glock.

15 comments:

Dusty said...

Joel,

For what reason would anyone without a badge ever need such a weapon?
This instance. The police were not available until after the fact. 32 people may be alive, if law abiding citizens were able to protect themselves. No weapons are allowed on school property -that's fine- if everyone, including Cho, would follow that rule. The world doesn't work that way. However, making it harder for the criminally insane to get guns would be a great idea....

Guns don't kill people, people kill people.

Randy said...

You need to check your facts on the number of homicides in England. I found numbers closer to 850. Now that guns have been banned in England, they are having a problem with stabbings.

Guns can be used to commit terrible crimes, but they are also used to protect life. I like having the right to protect my family with a gun.

If someone with a concealed carry permit would have been allowed to carry their gun on the VT campus, then it's possible that some of the people killed yesterday might still be alive today.

Joel Anderson said...

Randy, if you have info proving me wrong, please share it. If I'm wrong about the number of homicides then we need to notify the Associated Press, too - that's where I pulled those stats from.

In general, though, I'm not sure how I feel about people running around with guns, shooting at each other - even those trying to prevent crimes. I'm not much for vigilante justice. I think that just compounds the problem.

If we could try to get the guns out of everyone's hands, then, to me, maybe we'd have fewer situations like Monday's.

People kill people, yes. They do it much easier with guns, though.

Anonymous said...

millions are being killed in Africa with machetes....

Anonymous said...

Joel, you need to think about the fact that when someone like this psychopath is determined to kill, they will find a way. He could have built a homemade bomb with directions from the internet. According to your line of thinking that means we should ban the internet and ban the indgredients used to make bombs (fertilizer, etc). People will always find a way to kill one another. It's very sad but it is true. Banning guns will only create a black market, ala' our marijuana and cocaine black market. It is supply and demand. People will continue to demand guns, and there will be a supply. Except then only the criminals will have guns.

If one single responsible citizen had been allowed to have a gun on campus and knew how to properly use it, he could have taken out Cho and spared many lives. I'm not saying that we need to lift the ban of assault weapons on campuses, but it is food for thought.

Randy said...

I think you compared the total number of homicides in New York City with the homicides caused by guns in England.
http://www.crimestatistics.org.uk/output/page40.asp

Randy said...

Hitler took guns away from the Jews. I'm sure that made the Jews safer.

Joel Anderson said...

Well, here's the fundamental difference between myself and the others who've commented on this issue: I don't think the solution to crime is arming more citizens with guns.

I barely trust us - the citizens - to drive safely, let alone be charged with being responsible with firearms.

In general, I'm the sort of person who lives to live in a society with a multitude of choices - drugs, strip clubs, gaming, whatever. Let me make the decision on what I can and can't handle.

But when it comes to something that's only true purpose, it's whole reason for invention, is to kill something or someone, that's where I draw the line. Everytime someone fires a gun, there's a chance someone could die.

I'm hard pressed to think of anything else with such a pointed and potentially fatal purpose, available on such a widespread basis to citizens.

And, I really don't get the analogy to Hitler and the Jews. Unless you, Randly, think Bush or whomever succeeds him has Hitler-like tendencies, that's an irrelevant argument. Our citizens shouldn't have to fear - in theory - that sort of dictator.

Anyway, I really do understand where you limited gun control folks are coming from. I'm just not, nor do I want to be, a citizen of that place.

Anonymous said...

Joel said: "I must admit, I'm nothing of an expert on guns (or much anything else)"

Well, at least you got that part correct. The U.S. is like no other country in the world so you can't compare it to any other country in the world.

The Hitler comment was an analogy of a gunless society. Remving guns from ownership of the people was one of his first moves.

Sounds like you want to live in Denmark based on the options you said you like. Feel free to go. This is still a free country and you have that right. You may not trust the people to own guns, but I trust myself to protect my family by any and all means possible. A killer will find a way to kill. It's the nonkillers who need a means of stoppage that is fasy and reliable should the need arise.

Stay safe, Joel.

Joel Anderson said...

Actually, Denmark doesn't sound bad. Not bad at all. According to a recent study, Denmark ranks as the "happiest" nation on earth.

But one thing I do want to clear up: The AP used an awkward way to compare gunshot deaths by country yesterday, and I misinterpreted the statistic.

Now, the U.S. still is the hands-down champ for homicides by gun, but not by as large a margin as I initially believed when compared to Great Britain - though, remember, we were comparing New York to three countries with 6 times the population.

Either way, it's hard to argue with this tidbit: More than 30,000 people die from gunshot wounds in the United States annually and there are more guns in private hands than in any other country.

If 30,000 deaths don't make you flinch, or pause for the cause, then I really don't know what to say.

Btw, I understand the Hitler analogy. It just doesn't make sense to me. Hitler's disarming one group for the express purpose of killing them is, to me, in no way applicable here.

But I'll let the NY Daily News take it from here, more skillfully than I could have:

"So rabid are the believers that more than a few argued yesterday that Cho Sueng-hui's rampage could have been cut short if only Virginia Tech did not bar students from carrying guns on campus. But that's the way Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday lived. That's the way Abe Reles and Legs Diamond lived. That not the way civilized human beings live.

The more sensible answer is not to arm ourselves daily against whatever Cho Sueng-huis might come mumbling and muttering along. The answer is to do whatever can be done to keep the Cho Sueng-huis from laying hands on guns more easily than on driver's licenses."

Anonymous said...

Joel,

I just wanted to saw that you are not the only one who feels that way. Our nation could be so much better and if only people were better general, we could be the happiest nation in the world.

Anonymous said...

With the Hitler analogy, it's the one thing leads to another thought process. If Americans are disarmed, then what will be the next move? It may sound kinda crazy now, but maybe not so much if guns become outlawed. Study your history.

Randy said...

Suicides, accidents, and self defense shootings are included in the 30,000 deaths a year caused by firearms. Actual firearm homicides are closer to 11,000 a year.

http://www.stopaddiction.com/narconon_alcohol_deaths.html#

43,000 people a year are killed in car crashes, and 435,000 people a year are killed because of smoking. 85,000 deaths are alcohol related.

The following stats can be found on various sites.
http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2004/07/293284.shtml

* In 1929 the Soviet Union established gun control. From 1929 to 1953, approximately 20 million dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.
* In 1911, Turkey established gun control. From 1915-1917, 1.5 million Armenians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.
* Germany established gun control in 1938 and from 1939 to 1945, 13 million Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, the mentally ill, and others, who were unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.
* China established gun control in 1935. From 1948 to 1952, 20 million political dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.
* Guatemala established gun control in 1964. From 1964 to 1981, 100,000 Mayan Indians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.
* Uganda established gun control in 1970. From 1971 to 1979, 300,000 Christians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.
* Cambodia established gun control in 1956. From 1975 to 1977, one million "educated" people, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

If you add all these up and divide by 100 years, then you get 560,000 people a year that are killed by gun control. I know this is very large number of deaths doesn't really mean anything. The gun control supporters twist the facts to prove their points, so I decided that I could do the same thing to "prove" my point.

Joel Anderson said...

This will be the last time I blog about this, but, a bullet is a bullet is a bullet.

I don't care if someone is shot and killed and it's classified as a homicide, self-defense shooting, an accident, rough sex play, whatever.

The tally is the same, and the unifying factor in all of the deaths is a gun.

We - as citizens - HAVE to drive, for the most part. No one needs to own a gun. Again, let me repeat: no one truly needs a gun.

In Houston, I grew up in a neighborhood that, um, was something much less desirable than a gated community. But I've never known anyone who ac;tually owned a gun, and thus far, all of us have made it out alive and relatively unscathed.

Again, I would just ask someone what they need a gun for, since it's only true purpose is to kill someone or something.

If it's possible, I'd like to save as many of those 30,000 lives lost annually to gunfire as I can. Do you?

john New Zealand said...

Guns do kill, the bullet leaves the chamber and hits its target, take the gun away and the finger cant do much except pick a nose:)

I have never seen the need for a gun.Life is a risk, driving a car is a risk, but usually a car gets you home, what can a gun do exept kill and maime. kill a curios child, backfire and kill you. Leave guns to the experts the Army and police.