Virginia Tech on everybody’s mind

Here’s what the various ScienceBloggers are saying about Virginia Tech.

I’m not personally enthused about turning the whole ugly episode into a rallying cry for whatever cause you favor right now, but I do side with Dunford: of course this is a time you should express your positions. This is a good time, when events have made the concerns more immediate and when people are looking for answers. It’s not a good time to act on those positions, because emotions overwhelm sense, but they are also good indicators of what is important to people.

For instance, if you see this as an excuse to cage all the foreigners, I’d like to know so I can stay upwind of you at all times. If you’re concerned about what we can rationally do to prevent these tragedies in the future, even while distraught about the evil that has been done, then OK, I’ll try to remember that you are a fellow signee of our mutual social contract. So please, keep it civil, and remember that we are a community of civilized beings, not a mob of barbarians.


  1. Steve LaBonne says

    There is NO general conclusion that validly follows from an incident like this. You can accept the (tiny, in the aggregate) risk of being shot up (or harmed in some other way) by a nutjob in a populous public area, precisely because it’s public. Or you can choose to live in a police state. But the risk reduction from the latter dispensation is largely illusory too (just ask the denizens of the Green Zone).

  2. NickM says

    When the O’Reilly’s of the media start coming after the immigrants – and they will – it should be noted that at least two of the professors killed were themselves immigrants, in this country doing ground-breaking work in their fields, according to NPR.

    It’s reflective of the quality of American universities that we attract the best and brightest from around the world, and it would be a tragic mistake if, in trying to keep out the random crazy, we were to lock out all the brilliant people coming here to teach and learn at our schools. I hope that is not where a “national dialogue” about this tragedy leads, because that is one way we could compound the tragedy.

  3. says

    What all ways strike me in these cases is how the nonstop coverage results in an absurd rush to judgment. Maybe this incident has policy implications of some sort, but you’d have to know what actually occurred to be able to say so. Unfortunately, waiting even a day is too long for ideologues who end up drawing conclusions based on conditionals. “If the shooter turns out to be a Pakistani, then” “If the shooter turns out to have used an illegal firearm, then.”

    What’s the matter with waiting a week or two? One is reminded of what happens every election night when six or seven experts are called in to argue for half an hour about what the final result of an election will be even thought the actual results will be known in a matter of hours.

  4. Paul says

    I gotta admit, I’m numb and raged out. After so many years of war, worrying, in particular, about Iraqi civilians, I’m very numb.

    I hear Americans say ‘We should just bomb the hell out of em and get out’, on the radio, and that makes me a little sick, but I have to admit, death, destruction, I kind of avoid the news and don’t worry too much about it. With over 6 billion people on the planet, people are bound to do this kind of crap.

  5. CalGeorge says

    He was a quiet person.

    Put all the quiet people in concentration camps!

    Ban the depression drup he was taking.

    Jail all English majors referred to counseling for writing weird essays.

    Do anything, EXCEPT the obvious: ban handguns.

  6. says

    Don’t be silly, CalGeorge.
    We can’t ban handguns, because handguns are made by nice Christians, and we can’t have nice Christians be put out of a job just for the selfish reason of wanting peace and safety.

  7. says

    Banning handguns certainly isn’t the answer. The second amendment is in the constitution for a very good reason, even if centuries of relative peace and freedom have clouded that justification. I would hate to go all Ann Coulter and say that if EVERYONE had a handgun he would have been stopped, so I won’t say that.

    Adding to the list of the Blamed: video games. I don’t have a link, but I’ve heard the argument from a few sources now that violent video games are to blame. For every gamer that shoots up a school I can show you a million more who don’t. I’m not aware of a single study that shows violent game enthusiasts to be any more likely of committing actual violence. If Catcher in the Rye can provide the motivation to kill then anything can.

    The culprit is simply a sick mind. One in a million. Perhaps a mind driven to the snapping point by various aspects of popular culture, but if that’s the case then it was surely a chaotic and unfortunate, but highly unpredictable set of circumstances. No one source can be blamed and no one ban or regulation will stop it from happening again.

  8. Dave C says

    The depressing thing for me has been the way the networks tried to pin blame on the University.
    What did you do in the two hours?
    My take on this is that they weren’t getting a story so they were trying to pressure the Uni into relaesing information early to make deadlines by ratchetting up the blame.
    “Some students are asking why there was no info warning them?” type questions that are non-attributable.
    Next time there is a suspected domestic shooting in downtown Manhatten, I’ll be expecting the media to ask why the Police didn’t contact everyone in the city warning them to stay indoors and blocking every entry point onto the island. Just in case the firearm wielding person is moving else where in town.
    I think the Uni did what it could given the evidence and things spiralled in a totally unforeseen manner. I can only admire the way a clearly distressed Chancellor and Police Chief handled the barrage of mostly self serving and unreasonable questions they were forced to answer. The press in attendence typified the me-me attitude prevalent today and showed no consideration for events, facts or the shocking nature of the days events.
    Well I think I’ll be getting my news elsewhere for a while whilst the TV, Radio and some online organisations squeeze the last ounce of profit from such an horrific occassion.

  9. Sonja says

    Here’s a real simple, inexpensive idea. It is my understanding that students and teachers trapped in classrooms did not have a good way to simply lock the classroom door to prevent the gunman from entering (as they were hearing shots from the hallway and nearby classrooms). Perhaps the school does not want classrooms to be lockable because of other possible dangerous situations. But what about a simple way (a special key or bolt) that teachers could bring with them to class that could be used to lock doors in the event of a school shooting?

  10. CalGeorge says

    At least ban handgun sales to anyone in college!

    One law enforcement official said Cho’s backpack contained a receipt for a March purchase of a Glock 9 mm pistol. Cho held a green card, meaning he was a legal, permanent resident, federal officials said. That meant he was eligible to buy a handgun unless he had been convicted of a felony.

    Roanoke Firearms owner John Markell said his shop sold the Glock and a box of practice ammo to Cho 36 days ago for $571.

  11. Scott Belyea says

    I can’t help but suspect that gun control, registration, curbs on gun production and so on may (or may not) be worthwhile actions to consider, but they’re not much more than tinkering.

    It seems to me that a significant root cause is a widespread US attitude toward gun use and the place of guns in society. Looking at it from outside, I find it inexplicable. And if this attitude doesn’t change (and I have no idea what might cause that to happen), very little will change. This sort of thing will happen again; the only variable is whether the numbers will be horrific enough to garner the same sort of attention.

  12. says

    I don’t know what to do to stop these events. Obviously we think “interventions” and the like, but what can one really do if no inverventions are desired? He seemed a very lost and disturbed soul, a loner from a quiet family.

    Anyway, I thought I’d link to some remarks made about him by fellow students, and a couple of plays (only one is live at the time I looked at it) written by him. Unbelievable stuff, and it looks like he had some issues with Catholic priests (which I don’t, btw, or at least no more so than with other priests/ministers/holy people):

    Glen D

  13. says

    I have no idea how to prevent this kind of event to happen in the future.

    I am fairly sure, though, that nobody else has any idea, either. And people who have cobbled together the usual suspects of easy targets (evolution, foreigners, video games, rap music [shut up, Imus!]) are pretty much despicable, because they are pretending to have knowledge when they don’t have any better idea than I do.

    Would Va. Tech have been better off with metal detectors everywhere? I really doubt it. Any security system is only as good as the people running it. And how would it have helped to have a metal detector at the entrance to Norris Hall? That would have only meant a few more dead people and an unattended metal detector.

    Ultimately, to stop mass murders like this you have to stop people from wanting to commit mass murder. I don’t believe in the Rambo fantasies whereby people don’t commit crime because they are scared of other people who have weapons. That kind of facile ideology is doing wonders in urban areas like DC and the Bronx, not to mention Baghdad. Somehow the idea that guns deter violence never seems to bear out in practice.

    How do we stop people from wanting to commit mass murder? Well, that’s a problem. It really isn’t up to society to make sure every single one of its members is happy at all times. Yes, it would help if troubled students were more willing to get serious counseling before going ballistic, but given the stigma associated with counseling, there are plenty of people who would rather go on a killing spree than talk to a psychologist.

    Also, psychology is not a simple, healing art. It doesn’t work like antibiotics, and in many cases it doesn’t work at all. I think it’s the only path to take, but I’m not terribly optimistic.

    But, FWIW, cancer kills a lot more people than random shooting.

  14. says

    Episodes like this, while infrequent, are not uncommon. As evolution biologists, what does that tell us? That there are some evolved mechanism(s) in humans that “trigger” this type of behavior. What is the “trigger” for school shootings?

    “In over two-thirds of the cases, there was clear and obvious bullying by social groups and individuals.”

    Something not dissimilar occurs when animals are cornered and cannot escape, an activation of the “fight or flight” mechanism. A “feature” of our evolutionary past? Under “too much” stress (as in single combat)? Become violent and unpredictable as in going “berserk”.

    To stop “fight or flight” behaviors, people have to transition out of the “fight or flight” state and into the rest and relaxation state. Which is also good for relieving
    counters stress related diseases.

    This relates to placebo effects, which work by transitioning someone out of the “fight or flight” state and into the “rest and relaxation” state.

  15. Phil says

    Nothing is going to change. This was a student who purchased his guns legally (apparently). Even a waiting period would not have helped.

  16. bernarda says

    As far as I can tell, wingnuts think that there is only one amendment to the Constitution, the 2nd. They seem to be totally ignorant of others, particularly the 1st. You would think that they would realize what “second” means.

    Of course it is not at all obvious that that amendment authorizes personal carrying of arms for personal reasons.

    When a wingnut hears about free speech, he thinks it means whose gun makes more noise.

  17. nkylib says

    I hear people talking about their constitutional right to bear arms. The constitution also let you own slaves. The constitution is not a great document it was written by rich propertied white mostly anglican males to protect property and their wealth.

  18. says

    As far as gun control goes, I doubt that the Europeans would like to trade places with us. OTOH, the idea that a couple hundred million or so guns are going to be rounded up without trampling constitutional rights is absurd, so guns aren’t going to become difficult to get in this country any time soon, whatever legislation is enacted.

    But what strikes me is that the internet itself has made gun control even less likely to be effective in stopping any such violence than in the past. You can find recipes for bombs, ways of making gun powder and guns, and ways to poison and otherwise harm others, over the internet. The information is out there, and trying to control the objects becomes less and less likely to be very effective against mass murderers (domestic violence would likely be more affected by lack of having such deadly weapons lying about). Arson itself can be quite effective, though usually not in the concrete and steel structures used in schools.

    Not that regulations and controls oughtn’t be discussed.

    If Harris and Klebold had been more competent, their bombs (internet-inspired, from what I understand) and the fires they caused would likely have caused much more damage than the guns of Cho ever did. And we can’t count on all would-be mass murderers having such poor recipe-following skills as Harris and Klebold had.

    Any calls for controlling access to guns are legitimate, of course, but they should be informed by the fact that the whole information age has changed what can be done by anyone determined to cause carnage. Gun controls might work (I’m skeptical, but have to concede the possibility), however there is a whole range of options on the internet for anyone who lacks the guns he might desire.

    Glen D

  19. The Dude says

    what people never seem to get is that the 2nd Amendment does not say “The right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

    I know the NRA would LOVE that to be true, but what it actually says is: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” This was written when, and with the thought in mind, that the US would not have a standing ‘militia’… so what does it mean when we have an Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, various armed law enforcement agencies & each state has a national guard? Those sound like ‘well regulated militia’ to me.

    This actually is a key point that is NEVER discussed.

  20. says

    I don’t think the constitution currently allows for the ownership of slaves. The constitution is certainly a great document. The founding fathers of the United States (I’m Canadian for what it’s worth) were not disaffected ivory tower Christians (many were free thinkers, only theists because Darwin hadn’t come along yet). They had recently shed the shackles of an oppressive government and had a great vision of a free nation where that kind of government would never take hold, and the second amendment is an insurance policy for that purpose. But this is a debate for another forum, I didn’t mean to sound like a second amendment gun nut earlier, I’m certainly not.

    As for an evolutionary cause, daedalus2u, I would guess that its more likely a failure and a breakdown of a complex psychology than a naturally selected response to stimulus. Just my guess.

  21. says

    So sad and wrong. Can’t imagine the horror of something like that.
    I’m a immigrant with a Green Card…eek. Though being white, female and Aussie I’m not scary…really.
    I remember 10 years ago the Port Arthur,Tasmania massacre.
    35 people killed and our guns laws got a whole lot tougher.Probably won’t stop someone determined but may slow them down. There are so many factors to blame in something like this, unraveling them will take forever and everyone with have their pet blame.

    Though since moving here seeing signs to “Check Your Weapons” when walking into the DMV or a shopping centre is a bit disquieting.

  22. says

    But I’m a Militia of One, Gobdammit! I needsh me an M1 Abramsh and a 50 cal in my trunk sho I can be a real man!

  23. Dave says

    I have no idea how to prevent this kind of event to happen in the future.

    Ban guns from the college campus!

    Oh, wait. Virginia did that two years ago. Now they have to expel Cho for having a gun on campus. Too late!

  24. says

    If it is a “breakdown”, why are all the cases so similar? It is well known that desperate people do desperate things.

    I would presume that similar events are produced by similar causes via similar pathways.

    I will bet that who ever the shooter was, that he was bullied. That doesn’t “excuse” his behavior, but it does explain it. It takes it out of the realm of “no one could have predicted” into “Duh! you treat people brutally and they become brutal”, as in the well known cycle of violence.

  25. Flex says

    While daedalus2u [comment 17] suggests looking for triggers in our evolutionary past (BTW, is there another sort of past?), I submit that there are plenty of additional unknowns which prevent us from a full understanding.

    Which, I suppose, puts me in the same boat as most of the other commentors just more pretentiously.

    While biology is likely a factor in a case of this nature, I can’t help think that culture has an influence as well. Now before anyone get’s their knickers in a twist, the only possible connection to the usual supects of role-playing, rock-and-roll (now rap) and video games, is that playing the latter may have improved his aim.

    Certainly some of what we call culture is also likely strongly based on heritable traits. Simply by watching the behavior of chickens over many years shows you how a pecking order, and associated bullying behavior, is either innate or easily and rapidly acquired. But if human culture can regulate and control other strong natural urges, and it clearly does, why has culture allowed this sort of behavior to erupt on occasion?

    Or is combatitive behavior biologically encouraged enough to allow it to survive even though there will be the occasional person who runs amuck. Strongly enough encouraged by biology to be unable to be affected by culture. Obviously this behavior is not confined to the United States or even the western world. The very word we use, amuck, comes from a Malaysian word apparently first recorded in the early 1500’s.

    This is some evidence suggesting that our American culture is not the root cause, all the various proposed culprits nonwithstanding. It also suggests that tighter control of the tools of killing, i.e. guns, will not prevent the occasional outbursts. At best, fewer guns may reduce the number of victims (in the original Latin sense of a sacrificial animal).

    Of course, the separation between biology and culture is, in many ways, an artifical one. So trying to answer this question by seperating the two may be a impossible task.

    But the question remains, what possible mental state must a person reach in order to think that killing other people is the only possible course of action?

  26. K says

    Why is this so political? Does everyone know something I don’t? As far as I know, it’s some Korean guy who came here from Taiwan who was pissed at his girlfriend and went after her but decided to make it a killing spree.
    I MUST be missing something.
    ARE people saying, “to cage all the foreigners?” Where did THAT come from?

  27. MikeM says

    First, I’d like to say that your post about Schlussel was very appropriate. It sounds like she wants more than anything to re-introduce the idea of internment camps. She needed to be slapped for her comments.

    Second, if guns were illegal, I think this guy was going to get them anyway. This was literally a one in a 200 or 300 million guy to do this kind of thing. It was ongoing; it was an illness.

    Third, I saw some criticism of people praying after the incident. As most of you know, I am decidedly not-religious. There is no man in the sky who’s interested in our welfare. There is no supernatural. But in times like this, I think prayer can be very cathartic, very reassuring, very comforting. If there was a larger group of people that needed catharsis, reassurance and comfort yesterday than the survivors of this awful act, please tell me who they are. They were merely practicing a survival skill. I fully support those who felt the need to be comforted yesterday, which I suspect includes pretty much the entire state of Virginia.

    This should be a time of reflection. This should also be a time for that school to review its security policies. Maybe in a couple weeks, they ask themselves questions about where they went wrong, and what they can do to fix it. Having a murder on campus and then carrying on with classes less than 2 hours later was just preposterous. Sorry, but with someone at-large, who you THINK may have left the campus… Unacceptable. We will revisit this; and I hate to act in haste, but the sooner we revisit what went wrong here, the better.

    I don’t know that I can add much more. Do your best to support the survivors, if you know them. Be sad, be angry, but most of all, be supportive. Almost all the blame here goes to a mentally ill, highly motivated individual. Thankfully, there really aren’t many out there just like him.

  28. Will Von Wizzlepig says

    While I was prepared to explain away this episode as yet another example of our country and culture reaping what it has sown, as the assailant was ‘Chinese’, it’s hard to say that.

    If they were from-China-Chinese, that changes things considerably. Someone not from here not fitting in and blowing up may not be an issue our society’s health could not have helped.

    If they were from-here-Chinese, and ‘Chinese’ was just a convenient bit of data on a news case where everyone was scrabbling to have that latest update…

    I have to agree with the not wanting to turn this into a rallying cry.

    Once we apply a handle to this incident to make it more manageable, it will run the gamut in the media and be dropped the second Britney shaves some other part of herself.

    At some point the nation might want to stop and check itself. A good hard think and nobody telling you how to get there is a good start on that.

    …well, I suppose that’s a rallying cry in itself.

  29. T_U_T says

    Given that all but a few massacres of that sort happened in america ( and the fact that US has ther highest hominicide rate among all developed countries ), Im afraid the choice is pretty simple : Either you love your children or your guns. Either you will keep your hundreds of millions guns, or a few more people will stay alive. What weights more ?

  30. Speedwell says

    OK, I can usually be baited into political arguments, and I don’t recall signing a “social contract,” but I am also sick at heart over the Virginia Tech thing. I had a dear friend who went there many years ago. I’m going to take your advice and stop bickering about guns, sociology, economics, and psychology until my headache goes away, at least. Thanks.

  31. SteveM says

    #22 The Dude. *yawn*, that is a key point that is ALWAYS brought up in gun control discussions. The debate generally then focuses on exactly what the framers meant by “militia”. The consensus is generally that the framers were opposed to a standing army and felt that a militia (a voluntary force along the lines of the National Guard) would be a better defender of the nation. So your assertion that the Army, Navy, Marines are the 2nd amendment’s “well regulated militia” is debatable. And BTW, the amendment does say “the right of the people to bear arms shall not be abridged”, it does NOT say “the right to be in a well regulated militia shall not be abridged”. The statement is saying that people need to be able to own arms so that a militia can be readily formed in times of need. The reason it is worded this way is that it was believed that standing armies are inimicable to freedom and lead to totalitarianism.

  32. says

    On the immigrant issue (if was an issue), most of these mass murders were committed by young white males.

    As far as the gun issues, GET RID OF THAT AMENDMENT! What other country has the right to bear arms in their constitutuion?

    If I were an American, would I be allowed keep a sword by my side? A sword is a weapon (arms).

  33. PaulGBrown says

    The first responder on the thread has it right.

    There is nothing that can be learnt from VT that we didn’t know already. An individual with an abnormal psychological profile finds themselves in personal crisis and undergoes a disassociative break (ie. ‘a stressed out wierdo goes nuts’).

    It’s extremely rare. It happens. There’s vanishingly little that we can ‘do about it’. And even if some solution was feasible it isn’t really a priority.

    Car accidents are the 9th ranked cause of death in the US, and suicide is right up there too. See the fine mortality report for all the grisly details. No one cares about their likely cause of death precisely because it’s so common.

  34. tinisoli says

    One has to wonder how the Constitution and its Amendments might’ve been worded if the authors had foreseen the weaponry of the 20th or 21st centuries. Or if they’d seen statistics of homicide in gun-happy countries versus gun-banning countries. I can buy the arguments about what the authors meant by “militia” and whatnot, but I think the meaning of the word “arms” in 2007 seems awfully loose when we know what “arms” meant back then.

    The rationalizations of the gun lobby always ignore the physical and psychological ease of gun use. They would have us believe that Seung-Hui Cho would have used a homemade bomb or a crossbow to kill those 32 people if he hadn’t had guns to use or a shop from which to legally purchase them. Their analysis of things like the VT massacre always starts with the assumption that the killer would’ve killed by any means necessary, when in fact we really have no idea if that is true. Nor do we know that this guy would’ve bought guns from the black market if the gun shop had turned him away.

    Ironically, some of the most passionate defenders of the “right to bear arms” are the same folks who recommend castration for rapists.

  35. says

    It’s extremely rare. It happens. There’s vanishingly little that we can ‘do about it’. And even if some solution was feasible it isn’t really a priority.

    Exactly. About the only thing I think we could realistically talk about at this point is see if there’s a way to minimize the damage that one of these people can cause. Maybe we’ll find a weak point in college emergency procedures. Or is this is the best we can do without turning colleges into prisons?

  36. says

    Prof. Librescu was, indeed, a hero. We need to keep telling his story.

    He was imprisoned by the Nazis in World War II — he was a survivor of the Holocaust. He refused to join the Communist Party, and was on the outs with the government of Romania from 1946 until he finally got out of Romania in 1978.

    And he laid down his life, as an old man of 78, so that his young students could escape.

    That’s an amazing story, really. He survived the Nazi Holocaust and the Communist purges, only to be sacrificed to the 2nd Amendment.

    You know, we shouldn’t need Holocaust survivors to lay down their lives in classrooms to protect students. We didn’t fight and win the Cold War to make a profit for Glock.

    I suspect there’s a moral there. Prof. Librescu was a hero. But he was a hero before April 16, 2007. We should not make 78-year old men die for freedom they’ve already won. He should have had a chance to die naturally in the freedom he had already earned.

    Tell the story. Tell it again. Maybe we can make some sense of it, in time. Prof. Librescu was a hero; he survived the Nazis, triumphed over the Communists in Romania, but we couldn’t save him from one depressed kid standing behind the 2nd Amendment.

  37. says

    Huh? extremely rare? Isn’t this the kind of thing that is happening multiple times a day in Iraq? People killing lots of people and dying in the process?

    If you make the society more violent and more brutal, guess what, the people become more violent and more brutal too. But they don’t always choose the “same” way of being violent.

    This is the essence of the cycle of violence.

    JFK said “those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable”.

    Grrlscientist points out that suicide rates are higher under conservative governments. Maybe it is all of that “compassionate” conservatism.

  38. Robert says

    Ed, do you have some kind of evidence that Librescu was against the 2nd amendment, or guns in general? Because if not, then getting up on a soapbox and using someones personal heroism and tragedy to rail against something they may have supported (or not, but without evidence) is deplorable.

  39. Eric says

    As a Canadian, I’m not sure what the American Constitution means when it talks about bearing arms and militia, but I can’t see what the right to possess handguns and assault weapons has to do with protecting people from a modern military force – if that’s the point. (Wasn’t that kind of protection in mind when the clause was included in the Constitution: protection from anyone who would threaten the rightful freedoms declared in Declaration of Indpendence?)

    However, it seems pretty obvious that with scads of guns around someone is bound to get hurt, and that when someone is pathologically depressed or offended or whatever, the availability of guns will make that an avenue of choice for a few, however unpredictable. Perhaps it’s just a chance correlation, but I suspect that he fact that guns are less easily accessible in Canada is one contributory factor to the difference in the incidence of gun related deaths between Canada and the US. So, why continue insisting – this is just a question from an outsider – that the right to bear arms is about protection? It seems to me that limiting the availability of firearms, restricting their sale, and requiring more checks on those who, for good reasons, do need to have firearms of certain kinds, would go a long way towards preventing the kind of tragedy that occurred in Virginia. (After all, what if there had been an inquiry into why a young college student needed a Glock?)

    I take the point about good Christians’ jobs being threatened. I should have thought that even they could see (Christian or not) that the pain would be worth it in safety. But what do I know? I’m just a plain Cannuck from the peaceable kingdom to the north. (Not that such things can’t or don’t take place here, but they are statistically less likely.)

  40. mjfgates says

    I don’t believe that anyone would run mad like this unless they were sure that their life was already over, that things can never get better for any reason. Nobody is foolish enough to think that anything good can happen after you kill everybody within reach, so.. how bad does the world have to seem, before you go ahead and do it?

    And so, it seems to me that the most useful thing that you can do to prevent these massacres is to look around and ask: who do I see falling into that kind of despair? Who do I know, who might, possibly be feeling that horrible? Is there anything I can do to help?

    If I weren’t quite such a dedicated atheist, I’m sure that I could come up with a good Jesus quote. Or one from the Buddha, or Mohammed, or whoever. However it’s said, being good to one another is the best way to keep people from giving up on their lives. Helps prevent everything from massacres to alcoholism.

  41. nkylib says

    If the constitution is such a great document why did we have a civil war seventy years after it was signed. Gouvernor Morris commented in the 1830’s that he was surprised it lasted that long and the reason was slavery. If it was a great document they would have dealt with slavery then and there instead of some very smelly compromises and heads in the sand attitude.

  42. says

    It should be clarified that handguns are considerably less accesible in Canada than the US. Rifles and shotguns are another matter, although you still need a Firearms Acquisition Certificate to buy one. Estimates vary, but there are believed to be somewhere between 6 and 10 million privately owned firearms in Canada.

  43. Nomen Nescio says


    At least ban handgun sales to anyone in college!

    there’s already a 21-year age limit on them. IIRC that’s federal law, though i might be misinformed.

    FWIW, i attend college. given that i’m 34, married, two dogs and a mortgage, i would feel a blanket ban on handgun sales to college students would be far too sweeping.


    NRA 33 – Virginia Tech 0

    because as we all know, the NRA has no other purpose than to lobby for the wanton murder of random strangers in job lots.

    please. that organization has a lot wrong with it to complain about without needing to stoop nearly that low.

    Corey Schlueter:

    If I were an American, would I be allowed keep a sword by my side?

    in your home or on your property, certainly. good ones can be bought for a few hundred dollars apiece. carrying one in public would be another matter entirely, just as carrying any sort of weapon is subject to greater regulation in public than in private, but simply owning (“keeping”) one is entirely allowed.

  44. Observer says

    Ed Darrell said: I suspect there’s a moral there. Prof. Librescu was a hero. But he was a hero before April 16, 2007. We should not make 78-year old men die for freedom they’ve already won. He should have had a chance to die naturally in the freedom he had already earned.

    It reminds me of the famous quote by Viktor Frankl in From Man’s Search for Meaning that we read in a creative writing class:

    We who lived, in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

    Surely Frankl would say Professor Librescu chose to give away his last piece of bread…again.

  45. SmellyTerror says

    There’s a reason we don’t arm our soldiers with knives, machetes or cars. We give them guns because guns are designed to kill people, and they kill people very, very well. It’s what they are FOR.

    He didn’t just happen to adapt a nice peaceful gun as a makeshift weapon. IT IS A WEAPON. It is a device with a primary purpose of killing human beings, with centuries of development centered around making it better at killing people. It is overwhelmingly superior for this purpose than almost anything he could have gotten his hands on.

    Do you honestly believe this guy could have killed 30+ people with a car? A knife? A machete?

    If they could instigate a massacre “just as easily” with non-gun weapons, WHY DO THEY ALWAYS USE GUNS? Why don’t you see reports from countries with tight gun control about madmen killing dozens of people with knives? Why? BECAUSE IT DOESN’T HAPPEN. People can – suprise surpise – actually outrun a knife. Police can bring the person down far eaiser, and the killer can’t kill as many in the mean time. The process of making a bomb gets you caught because it is – check it out – ILLEGAL to make a bomb. It can be done, yes, and sometimes you can’t stop people, true, but by making it illegal you make it a damn sight harder in any place with effective rule of law. That’s what laws are for, yes?

    The argument that people will just use something else flies in the face of reason. Guess what? You don’t have to extrapolate, you don’t need to guess what might happen with tighter restrictions because there are *gasp* other places out there which are NOT America, and which already have these terrible anti-gun laws. Are they gulags of repression and anarchy? Strangly not.

    Are they largely free from these semi-annual US massacres? Yes, yes they are.

  46. cabbie says

    I live in Canada where we have some fairly strict gun control laws and the debate rages that they are too restrictive to too lax. I fully support restriction on firearms, especially handguns, semi-automatic rifles, assault weapons and the like.
    Yet the fact remains that no restrictions of any kind acceptable in any society that could reasonably be regarded as free are going to absolutely prevent this kind of event.
    It is certainly true that this type of incident appears to becoming more frequent and severe but I suspect the answers, if any, are in the realm of the social sciences and social structures more then in technology, policing or security measures.
    I find it worrisome the extent to which incidents are used by the media to whip up a frenzy of fear that is unjustified in the day to day lives of most people in our society. While there are certainly dangers, as always, there is not the justification for the constant eye over the shoulder and incipient panic that seems so prevalent today.

  47. Flex says

    Amazing, and yet, I suppose, predictable.

    Here is a fellow who ran amuck, for whatever reason, and the discussion becomes one concerning the tool he used.

    Clearly, the easy availablity of the tool helped, whether originally purchased for self-destruction or as part of a pre-planned killing spree. (Without any additional knowledge I’d plunk on the former reason as the original reason for buying the gun a month ago. I’ve known two suicides.)

    With a different tool, in the same circumstances, it seems unlikely that he would have destroyed as many lives as he did.

    But to suggest that without the tool being available nothing would have happened, or conversely that if everyone was packing a gun he wouldn’t have gotten as far as he did, is insane. We don’t know what would have happened. Unlike the Virginia sniper a few years ago, this doesn’t appear to be premeditated. Nor are any of the other reported cases of people running amuck throughout the world. (I’d have to dig a little, but I know I’ve read about a couple of cases in India over the past couple of centuries. Indian history during the occupation by the English being a bit of a hobby of mine, only as a dilettant.)

    FWIW, in regard to the 2nd amendment of the Federal Constitution, there was a great debate during the period about both the cost and wisdom of a permanent, professional military. The final compromise was that all able-bodied male citizens (meaning of voting age and no slaves) were considered members of state militias controlled by the governor of the state (or territory) but available to be used as a federal army if the need so arose. In Article 1, section 8, of the Federal Constitution, Congress is given the power to call up the individual militias.

    Organized militias existed throughout the nineteenth century, I recall reading a newpaper report of a parade through Plymouth, Michigan, in the 1870’s which listed each militia group marching in the parade. There were about a half-dozen because if you didn’t like the militia you were in, you could form your own. My understanding is that they were eventually unified into the national guard, but I don’t recall when.

    This little history lesson does not mean that I support the idea of eliminating gun ownership. But it certainly reduces the strength of the argument that out founding fathers felt we should retain our firearms in order to have the power to overthrow a corrupt governemt. If that’s what was meant, I suspect the amendment would have been worded a little differently, replacing, “In order to maintain a well-regulated militia,…” with “In order to maintain the integrity of a free state,…”

    A gun is a tool. A very deadly tool. A very small, handy, easy to use, highly refined, but still deadly tool. There are reasons for having this tool. Recreation is one of them. Recreation is a perfectly valid reason.

    But simply having the tool around pretty much ensures it will be miss-used. Like poisons can be miss-used, or dynamite can be miss-used. Both of those examples are controlled. No longer can you simply drop by the chemist and get a kilo of arsenic or cyanide, or the farm supply store and get a box of dynamite and caps. We control those tools. We ask what the purpose is, and if the purpose doesn’t meet the standards required, you can’t purchase those items. The same standards we use for other deadly tools should be applied to firearms, and in some cases the current standards are too strict, and in other cases the current standards are too leniant.

    But the fact remains, so long as there are valid reasons to use this tool, or even criminal reasons to use this tool, the tool will remain. You can’t put this genie back in the bottle. The result will be the occasional, tragic, miss-use of the tool.

    Do I agree with Ed Darrell that the victims were sacrificed on the altar of the 2nd Amendment? Not completely. The 2nd Amendment is certainly the altar of those who worship at the cult of the gun. But we choose which altars we worship at, and we can choose to turn away from this one too.

  48. CalGeorge says

    Okay, no doubt about it, there were major distress signals being given off by this guy:

    A student who attended Virginia Tech last fall provided obscenity- and violence-laced screenplays that he said Cho wrote as part of a playwriting class they both took. One was about a fight between a stepson and his stepfather, and involved throwing of hammers and attacks with a chainsaw. Another was about students fantasizing about stalking and killing a teacher who sexually molested them.,,-6565700,00.html

    I guess the question is, how do you intervene with these kinds of warnings being given off?

  49. Caledonian says

    How many students give off those “warning” signals?

    Weird plays are par for the course.

  50. nkylib says

    ” this doesn’t appear premeditated” He killed two people and marched across campus and killed thirty more without remorse that sounds premeditated to me. He is the nra’s worst nightmare.

  51. Keanus says

    Yesterday when I first heard of this, the thought crossed my mind that this is the sort of thing that the Iraqis experience every day, a thought already expressed here by Daedalus2u. But to put it in perspective, Iraq’s population is less than one tenth that of the US, so for us to experience similar pain, we’d have to have ten of these every day or one with 300 deaths. I wonder if George Bush, Rumsfeld, or Cheney have ever put events in Iraq in that context, or are they so detached from reality that they regard Iraq as some kind of board game.

    And while so far there appears to be nothing specific about Cho, the student who caused this disaster, given that he’s a native of Korea, which has proved hospitable to some rather zealous Christian movements since WWII, I wonder if Cho was Christian, Buddhist, something else, or secular. For sure he wasn’t a Muslim, so Debbie Schlussel and thet other ghouls can rest their irratonal analysis.

  52. Flex says

    nyklib wrote, “sounds premeditated to me.”

    Well, we apparently have a difference in the meaning of ‘premeditated”.

    So far, it doesn’t sound to me like he had been planning this for any length of time, but once he ran amuck he continued. Marching across (or for that matter, ambling across) campus nonwithstanding.

    To be perfectly honest, I have no information you don’t have, possibly less, and I may well be wrong. Evidence may arise indicating that this was planned for the last month, or term.

    Not that it really matters. But to declare premeditation or not in the absence of evidence is not reasonable. I’ve suggested that it may not have been premeditated in the sense that he was planning this for any length of time. This is based solely on my own judgement, as fragile as that ediface is, and I could very easily be wrong. But let’s see what evidence is uncovered in the next week.

    And here I also agree with Caledonian. I’ll have to spend time reading the plays, but I’ve perused some pretty twisted amateur fiction in my time, and I wouldn’t trust myself to make a post hoc declaration that the writer was in need of serious consoling. It is going to be hard to prevent our knowledge of his future actions from influencing our reading of his earlier writings.

  53. Caledonian says

    An individual with an abnormal psychological profile finds themselves in personal crisis and undergoes a disassociative break (ie. ‘a stressed out wierdo goes nuts’).

    And thus we see that the average person knows even less about psychology than they know about evolution or theology.

  54. nkylib says

    Look at the facts he killed two people on one side of the campus and traveled to the other side of campus and shot thirty human beings.How do you define premeditation.How long do you have to think about it to be premeditated five minutes, ten minutes twenty four hours. You are the one assuming all I know is he used a glock to kill multiple human beings over a two hour period.That sounds like premeditation to me.

  55. James G says

    Actually, I think it is fairly clear that a nationwide ban on guns of all types would stop these sorts of crazy campus rampages from happening. These events are caused by depressed, disaffected, crazed, disgruntled individuals who would have little chance of obtaining a gun through any kind of smuggler. We would instead see them killing people with knives, crossbows, improvised weapons, etc.

    Sure, criminals could still procure guns through criminal channels, but criminals tend to kill other criminals so that doesn’t bother me as much. These kinds of completely random incidents are more worrisome to the average citizen. I don’t have any proof, but I am fairly certain that random acts of violence are usually carried out with store-bought weaponry.

    The fact is, as a country we are willing to put up with a certain level of random violence in exchange for the sheer entertainment value of firearms.

    To all the gun nuts out there who tell themselves guns are for our own safety and the 2nd amendment gives us a right to own guns, I have to say I find it hard to take your position seriously. First, schools, campuses, businesses, and many cities ban guns, if we had a “right to bear arms” then they would not be able to do this legally. Second, no one really thinks crime would drop in big cities if guns were more freely available. It is always the cities (with all the crime) that are trying to ban guns, and the rural areas (with no crime) that are trying to protect “gun rights”.

  56. Nomen Nescio says

    It is always the cities (with all the crime) that are trying to ban guns, and the rural areas (with no crime) that are trying to protect “gun rights”.

    you seem to be new to this particular neverending political debate. the common pro-gun rejoinder to what you have just stated is that there’s a reason why the cities have gun bans and high crime while the countryside has guns and low crime.

    whether or not that rejoinder actually holds water is undecidable, but then again, so is your claim. HTH.

    […] depressed, disaffected, crazed, disgruntled individuals who would have little chance of obtaining a gun through any kind of smuggler.

    i will bow to your experience of the motives, standards, and modus operandi of the typical black market gun runner. what you outline doesn’t coincide with the prejudiced view i have so far had of such criminals, but then again, i’ve never dealt with them.

  57. Justin Moretti says

    Tell your anti-gun pap to all the law-abiding citizens who take home gold, silver and bronze medals for Olympic and Commonwealth Games shooting events every four years.

    Tell it to the farmers who need to control verminous pests on their property.

    They will tell you where to go.

    I have read enough “right wing gun magazines” to know that the NRA’s attitude to firearm ownership by those with violent criminal records and the mentally unbalanced is, to say the least, extremely uncharitable.

    Clearly there needs to be a US-wide licensing system which allows a medical practitioner to write to a registry stating that “this person is not fit to be in control of firearms” – but we have to ask ourselves, even if Virginia Tech had known this man was completely unstable, could they be expected to know he had guns, and would he not have LIED to conceal the fact that he did?

    ONE completely deranged nut does a terrible thing, and people want to deprive hundreds of thousands of their legitimate recreation (which, in many cases, does not involve hurting a single living thing). A poor reaction for a society which values civil liberties, when the innocent are made to suffer along with the guilty.

    The only reason people are screeching and screaming and wailing is because these 33 people died all at once; the road toll in some States of the US must vary by more than that in a year.

    Banning is a knee jerk response and does not work. Nor does demonizing the vast majority of shooters, who have never hurt or killed anyone and never will. Writing them all off as Rambo-wannabes with fantasies of military glory or Freudian penis issues is insulting to them and says little about the common sense of the individual making the insult.

  58. Caledonian says

    People go for guns because it’s relatively easy to get them. Guess what happens when they can’t get them?

    They go for the dynamite, for the chlorine gas, for thermite, for a thousand other things that can kill groups of people horribly in the right circumstances.

    Do you really think you can make the suicidally deranged go away by getting rid of guns? Do you really think you can change the cultural attitudes towards violence by getting rid of guns?

  59. Kagehi says

    But in times like this, I think prayer can be very cathartic, very reassuring, very comforting. If there was a larger group of people that needed catharsis, reassurance and comfort yesterday than the survivors of this awful act, please tell me who they are. They were merely practicing a survival skill.

    But, its *not* a survival skill. Its a coping skill. You know the old saying about Nero fiddling while Rome burned? Well, for believers, its nearly universal that if you have enough of them together, no one is *guiding* them to action and they don’t believe they have the power to act, they will quite happily “pray while Rome burns” down around their own heads. Its only useful *after* the fact, and even then, some studies have shown that it isn’t effective. It causes the pain to be deflected onto something else, instead of confronting it. It replaces the need to *deal* with the problem logically and recover with something designed to put a band aid over the wound and pretend it isn’t there. This *causes* psychosis in many people. For some people its just so slow in driving them nuts that its not immediately obvious. In others it surfaces eventually in the same sort of insane instability that caused the incident in the first place.

    One of the problems with the US is imho, that we are a nation of escapists. Confront us with bad news and we look for good news, confront us with tragedy, we have 10,000 books written by other fools on how to either hide from, avoid confronting or laying the blame on someone else, including the biggest loser of them all, which is, “God has a plan!” We don’t confront tragedies, we look for other people to *explain* them to us, or places to hide from them. And when we realize that it doesn’t work and that we **need** real help, most of the sources of help are churches, that just replace one stupid escape method with another, or book lists from the likes of Oprah, etc., which make lots of dumb promises about how to “deal” with the tragedy, by not *ever* actually dealing with it.

    And, unfortunately, I suspect this meme finds its way into the lives of some of these nuts that go off too. They know the bill of goods society is trying to sell them about how they need to just hide from, ignore or blame their problems on someone else is BS, but they don’t have anyone that will tell them they are right. Everyone is, “What is wrong with you? Why don’t you just read the next book from X about life fulfillment or go to church Y and listen to my priest babble, or just ‘not be someone with a problem’?”. After all, its so easy for the other millions of people to convince themselves that this BS *solves* their problems, why can’t this one loner “get it”?

    I strongly suspect that this way of thinking about everything from stubbing your toe, to dealing with loss of relationships, to deaths of people close is *not* as bad in other countries and is one of the *major* problems helping to create this sort of problem. If you don’t confront the things that are disturbing you, but just sweep them under the rug and pretend the lump is Jesus, or just as bad, Feng Shui, the great secret to prosperity or what ever the flavor of the week of non-solutions is, then eventually that lump gets big enough it starts shoving other things, including your morals and sanity, out of the way. Duh! Yet, this is *exactly* the #1 *solution* given to damn near everyone that ever has a problem, “Drink the cool aid, it will set you free!”. Argh!!

  60. says

    Sorry, folks, but the wording of good old Amendment #2 essentially renders it obsolete. The right to bear arms is contingent on that “well-regulated militia” being necessary. I’m guessing that, given the existence of our armed forces, our national guards, our federal, state, county, and city police forces- not to mention the toothless wonders that make up the “militias” of today, it isn’t.

    Now, I have no problem with folks owning sporting guns- hunting rifles, shotguns and whatnot (hell, I own a couple) but I don’t see how we can not draw the line at automatic/assault weapons, .50 cal. sniper rifles, and, yes, handguns. To quote those famous Massachusetts liberals, Lynyrd Skynyrd;

    “…Hand guns are made for killin’
    Ain’t no good for nothin’ else
    And if you like to drink your whiskey
    You might even shoot yourself
    So why don’t we dump ’em people
    To the bottom of the sea
    Before some fool come around here
    Wanna shoot either you or me…”

  61. James G says


    I’m sorry but this is a democracy, and the vast majority of people live in cities. They do not need to shoot animals on their property. They do not have gun ranges where they go shoot. If they feel the need to shoot something, they grab a nerf gun or a video game. You are sacrificing the safety of everyone for the entertainment needs of a tiny, tiny minority.

    Yes there are plenty of fun, legitimate things you can do with guns. Guess what, there are plenty of fun legit things you can do with bombs, tanks, cocaine, plutonium, rockets, etc. The point is not whether there are benefits to guns; the point is that the costs VASTLY outweigh the benefits. Practically every other civilized country realizes this.

    Gun control is clearly just a rural-vs.-urban issue in my eyes. It’s high time this country stopped privileging the rural vote. It’s supposed to be one-man-one-vote not one-square-mile-one-vote. Just as one example, here is a list of gun control support ratios from Pennsylvania in 2000:

    Location support:oppose
    Philadelphia 8.8:1
    Southeast 3.2:1
    Northeast 2.1:1
    Allegheny 1.4:1
    Northwest 1.0:1
    Central 0.9:1
    Southwest 0.7:1

    The only place gun control opposition reached majority levels was in sparse rural areas. As you can see opposition wasn’t even that strong in rural areas. Polls commonly show 70%+ support for tighter gun control among women, and 50%+ support among men. For many people it is simply a no-brainer since they are not going to be carrying a gun anyway they only effect the legislation will have is to make it more difficult for criminals to buy guns.

    Look, I like guns, I wish it made sense to keep guns legal but it just doesn’t. More importantly, it goes against democratic principles. The gun lobby is far too powerful in proportion to the number of Americans who actually care about gun ownership.

    Again, for those who do not think gun control is relevant to the Virginia Tech shootings, this shooting could not have happened without freely available guns for sale. This was an immigrant college student; he would not have had any chance of getting a gun through the black market.

    One thing people don’t seem to realize about the black market is that it itself works as a kind of gun control system because gun smugglers are not going to sell guns to just anyone, they will only sell to people they trust. Thus, they would be highly unlikely to sell to some disgruntled student/office worker/madman they had never met before. Besides, not only would you have to contact an illegal source once to acquire a gun, you have to go back every time you need more bullets. Thus, if guns and bullets were banned, it would be very difficult for someone to make a snap decision to go on a shooting rampage. They would have to have already made the criminal lifestyle choice.

    P.S. One easy compromise would simply be to ban handguns. Most of the uses you are talking about would be perfectly well satisfied with rifles. At the same time, a crazed killer with a rifle would be easier to spot and would probably be easier to subdue as well.

  62. James G says

    “Do you really think you can make the suicidally deranged go away by getting rid of guns?”

    No, I think we can make them less effective serial killers.

    “Do you really think you can change the cultural attitudes towards violence by getting rid of guns?”

    No, I think we could channel that violence into making cooler movies and video games, and if someone really feels the need to kill someone they can do it with a knife.

  63. Robert says

    “One thing people don’t seem to realize about the black market is that it itself works as a kind of gun control system because gun smugglers are not going to sell guns to just anyone, they will only sell to people they trust. Thus, they would be highly unlikely to sell to some disgruntled student/office worker/madman they had never met before. Besides, not only would you have to contact an illegal source once to acquire a gun, you have to go back every time you need more bullets. Thus, if guns and bullets were banned, it would be very difficult for someone to make a snap decision to go on a shooting rampage. They would have to have already made the criminal lifestyle choice.”

    To:James G

    So,you’re implying that it is okay for urban gangbangers to have their guns but it is not okay for the rural working-class to have theirs?

    By the way, this is a Republic, not a democracy. If the dominant regions (ex. Northeast, California) attempts a total gun ban against the South and the Heartland, the possibility of civil war will increase (there is no common American consensus thanks to the great diversity of media sources). Thus, making such a “cure” for a rare and random attack worse than the attack itself.

    P.S. Don’t assume a Modern Military will be adequate against such a terrible scenario, already the fully decentralized aspect of Information Technology (search for “netwar”) is already shrinking the “striking power” gap between “bureacratic states” and “individuals and small networked groups” as witnessed in Central and Southern Iraq(ex. cellphone detonated IED’s). It will only be a matter of time before Manufacturing Technology becomes decentralized (search for “fab lab”, “riprap”. also search slashdot for “fab lab” for opinions for and against) as well (further shrinking that “striking power” gap).

  64. Grumpy Physicist says

    Sonja has it right. And it’s the simple, prosaic answer: better classroom doors and locks. It costs some money, but not a fortune, and doesn’t advance any particular ideology, so it’ll probably get lost in the noise.

    Let me put in a plea for somewhat better soundproofing on classroom doors, not to damp out the sound of gunshots, but for a better teaching environment.

  65. no easy answers... says

    ‘What other country has the right to bear arms in their constitutuion?’ (Cory Schlueter)
    The Swiss have that actual ‘well-regulated militia’ of half a million men with assault rifles in their homes. They generally do not use them for shooting sprees. I suppose being a part of a military and having training helps.

  66. Steve says

    Number of people killed by handguns in a single day on a single U.S. college campus: 32

    Number of people killed by handguns in all of England and Wales (total population approximately 50 million) all of last year: 22

    Of course, these numbers have nothing to do with England’s gun laws, right?

  67. llewelly says


    “Drink the cool aid, it will set you free!”. Argh!!

    Note: ‘Kool-Aid’ is spelled with a ‘K’, like ‘kook’.

  68. Steve says

    In 2005/06 there were *766* offences initially recorded as homicide by the police in England and Wales (including the 52 victims of the 7 July 2005 London bombings),a rate of *1.4* per 100,000 of population. Only 50 (6.6%) were committed with all firearms combined; 22 of these were committed with hangus and one was committed by an air weapon. The homicide rate for London was 2.4 per 100,000 in the same year (*1.7* when excluding the 7 July bombings).

    In the U.S. in 2004, an estimated *16,137* persons were murdered nationwide for a rate of *5.3* murders per 100,000 of population were reported by police in the United States in 2004. New York City, with a population size similar to London (over 7 million residents), reported *6.9* murders per 100,000 people in 2004. (And NYC is far from the most dangerous U.S. city.)

    And “murders in the United States jumped 4.8 percent last year (2005)”.

    Call me crazy, but I like my odds in the U.K. better.

  69. Heleen says

    The only answer is a total ban on gun possession. Criminals will of course always be able to get guns somewhere, but the availability of guns without any restriction to the average citizen together with the admiration of violence that is evident from US films certainly is an accessory cause to such shootings. A basic problem is the US admiration for violence, not only at home but everywhere in the world.
    As you can see, I’m not from the US.

  70. Don Cox says

    Handguns are banned in Britain. We still have similar incidents, but as the killers usually have to use swords or machetes, fewer people die.

    However, some violent individuals do still manage to accumulate guns in spite of the law, and of course organised criminals can get them easily.

  71. SmellyTerror says

    Why make murder illegal? You can’t stop people, and you only prevent the law abiding citizens from practicing it.

    People who want to ban murder are deluded, bleeding-heart idiots.

  72. T R Carroll says

    I find it kind of ironic that some of the same people who bemoam the trampling of our Constitution (i.e: Patriot Act, wire taps ,and others ),advocate the same damn thing . Freedom ain’t cheap . There are a lot things , we as a nation , could do to lower fatalities in this country . A nationwide 10mph speed limit would prevent a whole lot more deaths than banning guns would . By the way , it is illegal to sell a gun to a mentally ill person , and I challenge anyone to name a city that has made ownership of handguns illegal in the U.S.A. I don’t want to give up any of my Constitutional Rights

  73. Robert says

    You guys are all right… lets blame guns, blame the constitution, blame Christians, etc. Let’s continue the reductionist approach of blaming others or other things instead of adhearing to personal responsiblity with the freedoms and liberties that we possess.
    I think it’s obvious that we should blame the natural process of neo-darwinism. If it wasn’t for the evolutionary advantages of man, this whole tragedy never would have transpired. Instead we would just be another species carrying out the very civilized, non-barbaric or hostile process known as the food chain.
    I’m sure everyone here will bow down and give a moment of silence to Darwin for all the victims, as we hope that their families will come to grips with this catastrophe by leaning on the great religion of secular humanism where there is no possible justice or hope for what has transpired.
    Robert- UW-Stout

  74. Kseniya says

    I’m with you on the personal responsibility thing, but did you have to spoil it by serving up a platter of rancid tripe for dessert?

  75. Steve_C (Secular Elitist) FCD says

    What I really want is the statistics of how many people have prevented battery or murder because they had a handgun or assault weapon.

    That’s why they claim they need them.

    This country is obsessed with guns. It’s a problem. Period.