Tuesday, April 17, 2007

My Two Cents

I really don't want to get into this, but have been asked by several people for my take on the Virginia Tech shooting and Gun Control. (Against my better judgement) Here it is:

Immediately after the Virginia Tech shooting spree Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) issued a statement saying, "I believe this will re-ignite the dormant effort to pass common-sense gun regulations in this nation.''
Problem is, if you wanted to go after the type of guns used in the shooting you would be forced to ban ALL guns. Why? Because the 2 firearms the assailant used were two of the least powerful guns available. They were the firearm equivalents of a Ford Taurus and a Geo Metro.

The guns that Cho Seung-Hui used were a Glock 9mm and a Walther P22. Those are the two most popular calibers on the market, and two of the three weakest calibers sold.
Most law enforcement has abandoned the 9mm caliber handguns because they just don't have sufficient stopping power. The U.S. Military doesn't even have an issue-graded 9mm pistol in its extraordinarily vast arsenal.
As a recreational shooter, I won't even bother with the 9mm. The rounds are buggy as all hell - cheaper is rarely better. The only 9mm pistol I ever considered purchasing was the Walther P99, but just didn't want any gun chambered for 9mm - I ended up waiting until Smith & Wesson issued its .45ACP version of the P99 (the SW990L) and picked that up.
The Walther P22 is little more than a glorified pellet gun and is sold almost exclusively as a "plinking" pistol. The .22LR ammo isn't recommended for hunting anything bigger than squirrels.
I actually own a Walther P22, but have never even thought of it as a defense weapon. If there was an intruder in the house, I'd grab the baseball bat before the P22.

To hear people refer to these two pistols as "assault weapons" just demonstrates the cluelessness of the opposition and the media. It would be like trying to classify a Shi Tzu as an "attack dog". To ban these types of weapons, you would logically have to ban every other single firearm by extension.

The kid went through legal channels to purchase the weapons and underwent a background check (which I support). There was no real way to deny him the right to purchase a firearm. This case was surprising because he did legally buy those guns. The great majority of guns used in crimes are bought through illegal back-channels.

Don't get me wrong, the tragedy at VT was a damned shame - A real fucking heartbreak, but the number of dead from that spree is still lower than the number of homicides in DC over the last 3 months (Jan - March 2007).
DC has the most stringent anti-gun laws in the nation, and the highest per-capita gun violence rate. Violent crime TRIPLED in the 15 years since the ban was enacted, where in other major metropolitan areas (without bans) the rate has remained constant or decreased.

The only way that this could have been stopped was if someone else in that building was carrying a gun to take him out. In a shoot-out between a 9mm or a .22LR and a .45ACP or a .357, Cho wouldn't have stood a chance. I can tell you that if someone came down my street shooting at anything that moved the guy wouldn't make it to the end of the block.
That's the bottom line - Guns can be used for nefarious actions, and guns can be used to stop the same. VT was a 'gun free' zone - Did that do more harm or good?
This is one of those issues that everybody is set in - Debating it is absolutely useless. It's like having Richard Dawkins trying to convince the Pope that there is no god.
These are just my views, for what they're worth. I just don't see how we can possibly stop something like this from happening unless we ban ALL guns and eradicate them from this nation like we did with drugs, terrorism, and premarital sex, or make it so that more people are carrying firearms to defend themselves against wack-jobs like Cho.

That's all I got.


bigsoda said...

While I'm not a big "arm everyone" guy (people are dangerous enough as it is), I agree that guns are not the issue here - this guy could have done as much or more damage with more benign and freely available items. What we need to look at is why we lead the world in producing fucked up nut-jobs who are so desparate and disillusioned that they see their only option to be whacking themselves but taking a bunch of innocent folks with them.

I don't believe it's a fascination with the macabre (last I checked, Stephen King and Clive Barker never killed anyone) or violent images in the media (if it were, most of my friends would be psychopaths); there's something really wrong in America. I don't know if it's an artifact of our society's ideals getting higher and margins getting wider or just a logical result of the "i'm more of a victim than you" mindset epidemic. What I do know is that we had better spend some time, money, and effort to try to figure it out or this sort of thing will become even more commonplace (guns or no guns).

edP said...

The Senator from CA has demonstrated how out of the loop she is. There will be some cursory debate re: gun control but I don't think either side sees to be gained by the time the next election rolls around

DC Liar said...

As far as politics are concerned the gun control issue is a loser.
Pro-gun voters will vote the issue, but anti-gun voters tend not to vote the issue.
What happens is that any gun-control legislative push just gets right-wingers elected.
Clinton admitted that his '94 weapons-ban crime bill was a prime factor in mobilizing voters to vote out the Ds and allow the Republicans to gain control of the Congress.

Meat Head said...

I feel the need to comment but all issues presented are extremely well stated and not easily answered.

I do believe that if just one person had a gun this would have had a much different outcome. It sounds like this kid was mentally ill and no one got him help. It may be a different issue than we think. The level and state of mental health care in this country is really poor. I have people in my family who are mentally ill to the point of permanent disability and it is a tremendous struggle.

The system is stacked against them. We were told by one government worker that there is nothing they can do with out said crazy persons consent or until it escalates. Uh what do you mean escalates he is full blow hallucinating and hearing voices. There response “We have to wait until he hurts himself or someone else then we can act.”

Thank god we had a full family intervention and convinced the person to commit themselves and sign over all consent to others. It could be the lack of the system to help people who need it. People don’t want to talk about that though. Mental illness is still the a dirty secret. Let’s talk about gun control and polarize the public. That approach is so successful so why try doing anything else.

Prairie Dawg said...

I think that about says it all, DC.

The world is full of nutjobs, not just the U.S. We are not Canada and the firearm cat is out of the bag. Way too many laws already; that's why they're not enforced.

Michael K said...

Aside from the background check, the only gun legislation I have ever supported was the idea that a person should need to take classes and get a license to own a firearm. A person should have to show some proficiency and knowledge of how to properly operate, handle, and store their guns. I think that would at least reduce the number of accidental shootings we have.

Maybe we could simply teach it in school. I have never owned a gun (except a pellet gun and those I was issued in the service) but a lot of my friends did and so I was taught to respect them and learn how to use them properly for my own safety.

This fella would have made a bomb or something if he couldn't get a gun. No cooling off period could dissuade him from this attack.

The Old Dog said...

Bang! Nice shot, Liar.