As I suspect most of us have done on this Monday, April 16, 2007, I have been shocked by the murder of "at least 33" students and, perhaps others at Virginia Tech.
I was sheltered, perhaps, from the horror because my personal schedule was involved with a family visit and other selfish activities. I didn't spend half my day (or more) being appalled by the terrible events at an American University.
Instead, I had an almost idyllic day with my son and his wife, my mother, my grandchildren and my true love. Until I returned home, I had no idea that this American Tragedy had occurred, let alone the extend of the slaughter.
For the past few hours, I have been engaged for an Internet search for more information, until I am so heart-sick that I can no longer bear to immerse myself in this sickness.
But there are certain trends to the reporting and, perhaps more significantly, the opinions which are necessarily a near knee-jerk reaction to what has become an American tradition in the month of April.
Since the Columbine massacre (April 20, 1999), the Oklahoma City Bombing (April, 19, 1995), the Waco (April 19, 1993) outrages, the month of April has been a continuing April festival of horror. And I for one am sick of it.
We are all disgusted by this annual rage of violence and slaughter of the innocents, and we all look for a solution to this distinctive American sickness.
But, what is it about the month of April which leads to such a death toll?
April Massacres didn't happen just in America:
April 18, 1995: The Kibeho Tragedy (Rwanda, Africa) - 2000 people massacred in a Rwandan refugee camp.
April 9, 1986: Tblisi, Georgia (the country, not the state) - an Anti-Soviet demonstration leads to a violent 'dispersal' by the Soviet Army, leading to 20 deaths and hundreds of injuries.
April 26, 1986 - The Chernobyl Tragedy.
The deliberate massacres, however, seem (per OKC and Columbine) to be based on Hitler's Birthday: April 20.
So we establish Hitler as the cause of many massacres in the 20th and 21st century.
But what is it about the latest outrage which will, presumably enrage so many American citizens?
It's not just that this 33+ (?) death toll is the largest fatality list in the history of American "School Shootings", but that the same people who reacted to Columbine (and other, more recent "Schools Shootings" are using it to advance their own anti-2nd Amendment agenda.
The Lars Larson featured an interview with Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. While careful not to suggest that any restrictions should be applied to "lawful citizens", he carefully made the point that "... maybe we should make it harder for individuals to get some of these guns in the first place. Not you, but people like the shooter today". He was unable to present a cogent argument differentiating between the radio talk-show host, and "the shooter today" except "We don't have any information on exactly where he got the gun or how he got the gun, but I think, you know, part of the solution is not just shooting the bad guy when he started but trying to keep it ... make it harder for the bad guy to get these guns in the first place."
In answer to Larson's assertion that there are "20,000 gun laws" regulating possession of firearms, and they don't seem to be making any difference in keeping guns out of the hands of 'the bad guys', Helmke suggested that "Maybe we aren't making the right laws" ... "Maybe we need more effective laws."
When Larson suggested that an armed student LEO stopped a school shooting at Virginia's Appalacian School of Law in Grundy, Va., Helmke stated "That's not true, that's an Urban myth."
Larson then suggested that the only way to stop anyone (no evidence yet whether the citizen was not legally prevented from buying a gun) from coming onto a campus and shooting people is to allow other law-abiding citizens to carry guns to stop him.
" What we need to see is if there are things we can find out that would have tipped us off that he was [not] a law-abiding citizen."
"There's no bans on hi-capacity clips. He apparently comes in with a nine-millimeter [pistol] that has a hi-capacity clip. He's getting twenty rounds off in under a minute. There's no background checks in gun shows in Virginia. We don't know all the details about how he got this gun."
Larson's continuing question: "Should we make it harder for law-abiding citizens to buy guns?"
"I don't see any problem with law-abiding citizens having to do a background check. That's the main thing The Brady Campaign pushed..."
"That hasn't answered my question."
Helmke, obviously unable to answer the asked question, changes the subject:
"Okay. How about extending background checks to gun shows? .... How about, uh, limitations on high-capacity clips?"
"No. ... If you go to the range, and the pistol I carry has a 14-round magazine ... and hand somebody a gun with a 10-shot magazine .... and give them 10 more of them ... the difference in firing (100 rounds) from 10-shot magazines and from 14-round magazines is relatively small. So arguing about magazine size is relatively ridiculous."
"Well, then you go to the issue of semi-automatics ... and how fast they can fire."
"Then you want to ban semi-automatics?"
"I didn't say that ... although I thought the Assault Weapons ban made sense ... they were something that could have been written better ... "
The conversation degenerated from that point, as Helmke attempted to defend the Assault Weapons Ban (and was unable to identify a single crime which was prevented by the tentative 1995 federal law, which Sunset in 2005 because nobody was able to show that it effected a reduction in 'gun crimes' ... with the possible exception of violations of the law itself.)
This interview served two purposes. First, that the Brady Campaign to Prevent Handgun Violence is willing (eager!) to use any tragedy to advance their agenda, regardless of the facts; and second, that the legal measures which they propose would have no effect on the kind of mindless violence to which the Virginia Tech students, faculty and staff were exposed today.
I have to admit to a personal investment in this question. I work on campus of an American University, of about the same size student body as Virginia Tech. I'm very aware of my personal exposure to random violence in my day-to-day life, and especially in the workplace.
It is impossible for a student, faculty or staff to carry a concealed weapon on an American campus. If caught carrying a handgun, a student can be expelled (possibly, in some states, subject to prosecution). No education, no career, and a black mark on his record forever.
Faculty and staff are subject not to expulsion, but to being fired (again, possibly subject to prosecution.) No references, no transfer and again no career.
Note that in Oregon, there are no state laws preventing CHL authorized citizens from carrying a firearms on campus. However, the universities can still establish a policy against it and nobody is willing to challenge that policy. The sole exception is Lars Larson himself, who was invited to speak on the subject on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene, Oregon. He insisted on being allowed to carry his concealed handgun when he spoke on campus. The University of Oregon withdrew the invitation.
Who among us are willing to chance being Black-Listed from our educational education or place of employment for the 'crime' of providing for our own self-defense? Very few of us. Nobody that I know personally. Certainly I am not willing to carry a firearm on campus, although I am legally entitled to carry almost anywhere else in the state. I have completed all training and background checks, and possess an "Concealed Handgun Permit" issued by my local County Sheriff. According to my state legislature, this is defense against most objections. Except ... well, you know.
What's my exposure if I don't carry?
Exactly the same as the students of Virgina Tech, including the 32 or more students who today were shot to death by a marauding fellow student because they were forbidden by their school from the means to defend themselves.
There's nothing I can do to change the situation ... today.
Perhaps tomorrow, this tragedy will serve as a wake-up call to Higher Education in America.
No, I don't believe it will happen, either.
In the meantime, expect to hear a LOT from the confused, agenda-driven "gun control advocates" as they attempt to advance their goal of removing firearms from the hands of every American.
They won't say it that way, of course. Instead they'll focus on the same old 'baby steps' that have worked so well for them during the Clinton administration.
Less magazine capacity.
No 'ugly' guns, no 'Saturday Night Specials', no guns with 'no legitimate sporting purpose'.
No guns based on 'military design'; which pretty much includes ALL guns, but they won't say that, either.
Offer to outlaw everything except muzzle-loaders (as Lars Larson did), and you can hear them salivate, then reluctantly reply "No, I didn't say that". But that's what they are thinking.
Then all they would have to do is figure out how to get rid of the muzzle-loaders over .35 caliber.