Senseless

I'm sure I'm not the only person who is reeling from this week's news.  From the massacre at Virginia Tech to the Baghdad bombings that killed 170 people yesterday alone, it has been a rough one.  Every time I think I'm getting some equilibrium back, I'm thrown off again.  Like yesterday, I heard someone on the radio asserting that this isn't the time to talk about gun control because for all of those who would argue in favor of more restrictions, there are plenty pointing out that if other students at Tech had been armed, they could've taken down the shooter themselves.  I really feel like I'm living in bizarro world when I hear this rot.  Not Virginia, by the way, I lived there for eighteen years.  No, I mean crazy, alternate universe, nonsense world, where someone would actually defend the right to bear arms before extending sympathy to those whose lives have suddenly, horribly exploded in tragedy.  I guess I mean the US.

Having grown up and gone to college in Virginia, I can tell you that it's all about the past.  They call it tradition rather than the past because that sounds fancier.  We wandered around Charlottesville calling our professors Mr. and Ms. because Mistah Jefferson never earned his PhD.  Seriously.  And I know there are plenty of people there, obviously far too many, who think that every restriction on the purchasing of firearms needs to be met with a loophole that will keep Virginia just about the easiest place in the world to get a gun.  I didn't realize the president is a Virginian at heart until his spokeswoman reaffirmed his belief in the Second Amendment before he came out to extend his thoughts and prayers to Blacksburg and beyond.  Well, okay, I could even handle that;  it was just the sort of hamfisted insensitivity I've come to recognize as a hallmark of this administration.  Still, when I heard and then read that:

Some argued that fewer might have died on the campus if students and faculty had been allowed to carry firearms…"

I thought I was really going around the bend. 

That anyone would say anything so harebrained during a week like this is almost beyond tolerance.  Is this the society we want?  Is this why we've worked, as a nation, for more than 200 years to become the greatest, free-est society in the history of the world?  So that we can send young people to college to sit next to armed teenagers under stress?  Is there anyone who honestly believes that would prevent future tragedies?  Giving young adults the right to carry concealed weapons into classrooms actually seems like an answer to gun violence?  I can't quite get my head around that one.  Of course, young men and women, even, or perhaps especially, those in college, are known for making silly mistakes that they regret in the near- and long-term.  I sure did, and I'm glad I did because it was age-appropriate and taught me at least as much as my professors did.  But I'm also really glad I knew no one was carrying concealed weapons around the campus/playground/pressure cooker that I roamed for four years. 

I guess it's normal for people to try to think of ways to prevent tragedies like the one at Virginia Tech, and even to pretend to themselves that arming everyone will somehow make scary, senseless mass murders stop happening.  But until we're interested in confronting the gun culture that makes human life in this country so utterly disposable, we'll never get anywhere.  My friend who lives in Dubai wrote that her Arab friends are fascinated by our national romance with firepower.  There's a little bit of Schadenfreude in their attention to this week's news, coming at a time when they have such trouble getting visas to our country because of heightened "security".  Give me a break.  What is security when you live in a country where, according to the CDC , children are more at risk of gun violence than in any other industrialized country?  When in the wake of a crime like this there are people earnestly suggesting that we need more guns, it's time to wake up from our long national nightmare.  Hell, it might even be time to face the fact that pretending we can manage the mentally ill without adequate funding is a dangerous delusion for everyone. 

10 Comments

  1. aplum

    April 19, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    Apparently, there’s a bill in the state House to allow court judges to carry weapons under their robes. Like you Andrea, I’m wondering what our country has come to.

  2. krm0517

    April 20, 2007 at 7:50 am

    If someone is deranged, as this guy in VA clearly was, it does not matter if guns are easily accessible. It is easy enough to find a receipt for explosives using household ingredience with a quick Google search. If Cho Seung-hui did not have access to handguns, he could have easily acquired some chlorate mixture and some ball bearings and killed far more than 32 people in a crowded gymnasium or a football game.

    We need to stop blaming the instruments used to facilitate these horrible actions and, instead, figure out how to identify and deal with the facilitators.

  3. Andrea V

    April 20, 2007 at 8:08 am

    You are right that we need to find and help people as troubled as the Va. Tech shooter. I could not disagree with you more about the need to “stop blaming the instruments” however. Guns are particularly lethal and portable, in a way that no other weapons, home-made bombs included, are. Thousands of children and young adults die because of gun violence every year in this country. I’m tired of pretending that we just need to “deal with” the shooters when they’re clearly only part of the problem. Can you honestly pretend that it’s as easy to make, store, and detonate a bomb in a crowded place as it was for the Tech shooter to do what he did. I mean, you’ve referred to him as a “facilitator” for crying in the night, semantics cannot even stretch as far as you need it to go to make this argument. A state, a nation even, that allows people virtually unlimited access to deadly weapons has made the bed we’re lying in now.

  4. krm0517

    April 20, 2007 at 9:07 am

    Forgive me for not wanting to live in a country where the only people with guns are the military and police forces. There is no such thing as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom to assemble, etc, if you do not have the freedom to protect yourself. The Nazis understood this. The Soviets understood this. Every dictator on Earth understands this. And, fortunately, our forefathers understood this as well.

    The Luddite response to firearms is irrational and irresponsible. I suppose you would argue that the Internet causes pornography and that hypodermic needles cause drug addiction as well.

    If Cho Seung-hui wanted to kill a bunch of people, he could have just started making a bomb in his dorm room. Even if it detonated accidentally, his goal would have been accomplished. He and many others would have died and we would still be talking about him today.

  5. Andrea V

    April 20, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    I think there’s a big jump from a democracy with unfettered access to guns and a police state. We would still have checks and balances, a (mostly) fair and impartial justice system, the right to congregate and worship, and the right to vote for representatives at least every two years even if we couldn’t buy guns and heavy duty ammunition whenever we wanted. Your deft comparison of our forefathers to Nazis and Soviets notwithstanding. Our forefathers actually understood that a well regulated militia is essential to the stability of a democracy, not that every Tom, Dick, or Mary needs street-sweeping, armor-piercing bullets to “protect” themselves and their rights. I don’t see how some measures, such as even – gasp – a national database of weapons would lead to totalatarianism.

    Again, I must point out that thousands upon thousands of people are not dead because of home-made bombs in this country. In other countries, where suicide bombings are tragically commonplace, the bombers are supported by large organizations and are, as the name implies, suicidal. Most victims of gun violence here are not injured or killed by suicidal “facilitators”. The fact that Cho might have harmed people by some other means should not prevent us from taking off our blinders about the human toll we pay for our strict reading of the Second Amendment.

    Finally, I can’t believe I’m having a conversation with someone on the Internet and being called a Luddite for my pains. While I’m occasionally irrational and irresponsible, this is most emphatically not one of those times.

  6. krm0517

    April 23, 2007 at 7:43 am

    A large portion of the citizens in this country live in rural areas. They have no choice but to “‘protect’ themselves and their rights” because when you live in a rural area and someone is trying to break into your home you can’t rely on the police to protect you and your family.

    My parents live about 20 minutes from an urban center. If someone tries to break into their home and they have to call the sheriff to protect them because you took their guns from them, they could be dead/robbed/raped long before anyone would get there.

    If you make it illegal to own a gun, the only people who will comply will be law abidding citizens. The criminals will still be armed.

    There are laws in place that deal with what happened in VA. There is a federal law that prevents the sale of guns to people with a history of mental illness. The campus was a gun free zone. The problem is that the laws were not enforced. What is the point of passing new laws if the laws in place are already being ignored?

  7. Andrea V

    April 23, 2007 at 4:01 pm

    Check it out, it’s Verykoukis not Dukakis. Channeling your inner Bernie Shaw, resorting to emotion when logic won’t work, isn’t going to change my mind. Just because I’d like to live in a society that values human life more than the strict construction of a 200+ year old document doesn’t mean I think your mom should get raped. Granted, it would be darned hard to get 290 million guns off the streets, but a girl can dream, can’t she?

  8. krm0517

    April 24, 2007 at 12:31 pm

    As long as you do not use your reverie to justify an infringement on my rights, liberty or the security of my home and family… go right ahead and dream away.

  9. Emma

    May 9, 2007 at 8:22 am

    What about people that want to get rid of their guns or gun collections? What options do they have? Many have invested much money in guns and when they want to get rid of them the options are to sell them to a dealer who keeps them in circulation. I think we need a way for people to take their guns out of circulation. Some sort of organization that takes the guns, destroys them and provides the donor with some sort of tax incentive or something. Is there such a thing?

  10. [...] A society that gives up liberties for "security" and in which the only freedom that some people vigorously defend is the right to be armed to the teeth gave rise to this tragedy, and certainly will birth more.  I'm sure many of the same people who get all het up when I mention any kind of gun control will get riled now in their defense of a law enforcement officer who was just doing his job.  To you I can only say, he wasn't doing his job.  He was not paid by the people of New Hanover County to shoot an unarmed kid through the head.  Why did they send a SWAT team over a video game theft?  Because of a picture of a man, who didn't live at the house, holding a shotgun?  Shouldn't the SWAT team have gone to the scary guys house?  Better yet, why not wait outside for the unsuspecting suspects to leave the house on their own?  Why use a battering ram to open an unlocked door?  We'll never know the answers, because the grand jury didn't think it was worth it.  Who are we that this is justice? [...]