Monday, April 16, 2007

the events of the day.

Here are my two cents on the atrocity in Blacksburg, Virginia.

I am already dreading the sound bites coming from both the right and the left in response to what the press salaciously describes as "the worst mass shooting in United States history."

Yes, you read right...I know I won't care for the left's instant condemnation of our "loose weapons laws" (the Brady Crowd already put out a press release to that effect), but I'm also not totally in love with the gun crowd howling about how Virginia Tech has "blood on their hands" because they disallow otherwise legal VA CCW holders from toting on campus. This statement may ruffle some feathers, but every CCW holder on that campus who didn't carry a weapon did so by choice. There may have been some who did have a valid license to carry, but they weighed the risk of expulsion against the risk of being caught defenseless, and they made their choice. There's no malice or moral judgment in that statement. It doesn't assign blame to the victims or take it away from the killer--it's merely a statement of fact.

Here's one thing that both pro-and anti-gun folks can agree upon: making guns illegal in any given location does not stop shootings in that location. The notion that someone with murder on his mind will obey proscriptions against the carrying of firearms is ludicrous, whether you're talking about a college campus, a shopping mall, a city, or even an entire country. The only people obeying gun bans are the people you don't have to worry about--the law-abiding folks. If you declare a location a "gun-free zone", you basically hang out a gigantic invitation for anyone willing to disobey the decree. What you create is not a safe zone, but a safe work environment for criminals and killers, because they can now be assured of unarmed victims.

Now, the Dems and their assorted hoplophobic entourage will draw precisely the wrong conclusions from the shooting in Blacksburg. They'll say that the weapons ban on campus was a correct and necessary measure, but that the problem lies with gun laws in general. There are too many guns out there, they're too easy to obtain, and blah blah blah.

Assume for a moment that they are correct, and that there are far too many weapons out there in the wrong hands. The problem here is that you simply cannot stuff the genie back into the bottle, and you cannot un-invent technology. Places like New York City, Washington, D.C., and Chicago still have substantial gun crime despite their draconian local gun bans. The folks who support the gun bans in those locations will tell you that this is the fault of the loose gun laws of surrounding states, making it easy for criminals to get guns somewhere else and bring them into the gun-free utopias. Give us a strict nationwide ban on handguns, they say, and the problem will disappear. They completely disregard the fact that there are already a hundred million functioning firearms out there in private hands, and that confiscating all those weapons would be a logistical and technical impossibility even if the police measures necessary for the enforcement of a total gun prohibition wouldn't obliterate the Bill of Rights. Think of the Prohibition: all the might of the government at all levels couldn't suppress the smuggling and consumption of booze, and a case of whiskey is far more difficult to smuggle and hide than a handgun. Let them argue all they want, for or against more gun control, but the simple fact remains that the nation (and indeed the world) is awash in firearms, and that no amount of wishing or legislating can make those guns disappear.

There will be a heated and emotional discussion about the ramifications of the Virginia Tech massacre in the next weeks and months. It will take place in the media, in Congress, and on the expanses of the Internet, and in the end we may either get some sensible legislation that eliminates Victim Disarmament Zones, or a new and far-reaching federal gun law that aims to "stop the carnage" by disarming all the folks who didn't shoot anybody today. (My money is on the latter.)

However, in the end it will not matter one bit. The only thing that ought to matter to anyone, whether they love or hate guns, is the knowledge that in the end it's a matter of personal responsibility. The question you need to ask yourself is this:

Do I trust others to keep me safe, or do I shoulder that responsibility myself?

No law ever passed has ever had the power to put a gun into your belt, or to remove it from there. You alone choose to carry a weapon, or to not carry one. One day, some nutcase with murderous intent may come calling at your place of study or employment or recreation. Then you will be faced with the consequences of your decision, and all the laws and judges and police officers in the world will be inconsequential at that particular moment.

You alone have to make that call every day of your life, and you alone will face the consequences if that day ever comes. And regardless of your stance on guns or your personal decision in that matter, there will be consequences. Trust the law and the police to protect you, and you may find yourself cowering under a desk and waiting for your turn. Trust your skill with the gun on your hip to protect you, and you may find yourself expelled from school, charged with illegal carry, sued into bankruptcy, or dead anyway.

The choice is yours, and I won't belittle you regardless of the path you choose to tread. Just make sure you can accept the possible consequences of your choice with a clear conscience.

No comments:

Post a Comment