Tuesday, August 28, 2007

More Guns, Not Less, Would Prevent Shooting Massacres: Says John Lott

Now I know this is long and you don't like long but give it a chance...

"Few tragedies make their victims feel more helpless than multiple-victim shootings.

Imagine the terror: Unable to escape, simply waiting for the killer.

With school starting, the April 16 attack at Virginia Tech that left 32 dead is still on many people’s minds. Some are looking for guarantees that such an attack won’t happen again.

But Virginia Tech’s just released report on how to stop future tragedies was pretty disappointing, and this coming week’s Virginia Governor’s task force report isn’t likely to be any better. The university proposes more counseling for mentally troubled students, internet based billboards to alert students of emergencies, putting both the police and fire departments into the same building to allow better coordination, more surveillance cameras, and locks that make it easier for students to get out of buildings.

Well, more cameras might help get campus police to the scene faster, but let’s hope that the next attacker doesn’t commit the attack where there are no cameras or that he doesn’t disable them first. Assuming that the doors to buildings are merely locked as they normally would be--and that the assailant has not blocked them or tied them shut with a chain-- easy to open locks could help.

If a current student is planning the next attack, gets identified as having mental problems and has treatment, and that the treatment is successful, more mental health resources could be helpful.

But one glaring omission remains: The report failed to ask whether there were any common features or similarities among the different multiple-victim public shooting tragedies. And what happens if these policies fail? Should there be some ultimate protection upon which the university can rely?

Of course, these horrors are hardly unique to the United States. In 1996, Martin Bryant killed 35 people at Port Arthur in Tasmania, Australia. In the last half-dozen years, European countries-- including France, Germany and Switzerland-- have experienced multiple-victim shootings.

The worst, in Germany, resulted in 17 deaths; in Switzerland, one attack claimed the lives of 14 regional legislators. Of course, since 1997 there have been multiple attacks in the U.S., with the 13 dead at Columbine.

Prior to Virginia Tech, the two previous most deadly shootings in the U.S. were the 1991 Luby's Cafeteria massacre in Texas, which left 23 people dead, and the shooting at a California McDonald's in 1984, in which 21 people were killed.

All these attacks shared something in common: citizens were already banned from having guns in those areas. Indeed, every multiple-victim public shooting of any significant size in the United States has occurred in one of these gun-free zones.

The problem with gun-control laws is not that there isn't enough regulation, rather that it is primarily the law-abiding, not the criminals, who obey these laws.

Virginia Tech has rigorously enforced its gun-free zone policy and suspended students with concealed handgun permits who have tried to bring handguns onto school property, and it will continue to do so. Imagine what this means for a faculty member fired for bringing even a permitted concealed handgun on campus. It would be impossible for them to get another academic job at any other university. Similarly, a student who gets expelled for a firearms violation will find it virtually impossible to get admitted to another school.

But whether it is the suspensions and expulsions at universities, or even the three-year prison terms that can await those who take guns onto property of K-12 schools in most states, these penalties are completely meaningless for someone intent on killing and facing multiple life sentences or death penalties.

But citizens and police who pack heat do help, because they can stop a shooting while it is happening. Amazingly, opposition to guns on campuses is so extreme that some even oppose police being able to carry guns."

Not so amazing at all, John. Not to those who despise and are fearful of inanimate objects, and therefore wouldn't be allowed to own guns because they are clearly mentally unbalanced, so perhaps thats why they hate them to begin with.

Caliber envy. Since THEY can't have any neither should we.

No comments: