Since the last time I wrote on the subject a couple days ago, we’ve learned a good bit more about the Virginia Tech killer. Not only that, but there’ve been lots and lots of blame being passed around. I’ve got a few additional things to say concerning this, as it affects a number of things of interest to me.
Adrian Rogers once said, “there are no problems too big to solve, just people too small to solve them. The problem is that we’re so full of rotten pride that rather than attacking the problem, we attack one another because we are selfish by nature and we’re so full of pride. We want to be right.” All of us, from the political leaders, to big media guys, to us common folk, need to be careful how we approach discussing this thing so something worthwhile will be accomplished in pursuing a reasonable and effective answer to this horrific event.
To review what I mentioned in my previous article, the money simply isn’t there for wholesale renovation of college security measures, whether it’s multiplied numbers of policemen, mass video surveillance, and gated entrances with metal sensors; and there’s no way to completely revise gun laws without infringing on a constitutional right more than it already is. And chances are people aren’t going to change their awareness and general mentality to protect themselves, although it’s relatively simple to do.
We’ve discovered that the context behind this is one of a disturbed loner with a long history of weirdness and mental instability that were fairly well-known. Now the question most often asked is, what could have been done to stop this guy? There’s a number of things that could have been done, but none of them are particularly desireable and all require some compromise between freedom and security. I personally throw in with the venerable Benjamin Franklin, who said that those who sacrifice a measure of freedom for a measure of security deserve neither freedom nor security. You simply can’t insulate everyone from the mean, cruel world.
Discussing with some friends on message boards, I’ve come to the conclusion that mental illness records and court cases dealing with it should be made available to sellers of firearms. That means making medical records more widely available. Of course, this intrudes upon privacy issues, but when you consider that one’s criminal record is already public record because it’s in the public’s interest, what’s the difference between that and medical issues that are in the public’s interests? Sellers need to know if their buyers are bat-crap crazy so they can made an informed decision on whether to sell or escort them out the door.
I may be wrong, but I don’t believe that such information is readily accessible in currently existing databases…which are probably not electronic, rather consisting of hundreds of filing cabinets in hundreds of offices nationwide. I see that as a really good reason to push modernization in this area, as that’ll help reduce health-care costs by streamlining information transfer and reducing administrative overhead. I see it as knocking out two birds with one stone. The NICS database, maintained and operated by the FBI, should have that information available.
For that matter, I wouldn’t have a problem with making all gun buyers apply for a carry permit before they can buy firearms (one reason I am not an NRA members is that I don’t have a problem with reasonable pre-requisites for ownership). This will ensure thorough checks have been made into their backgrounds before they’re able to buy a gun. I don’t know that such checks include mental illness, but that’s yet another thing we can change. It already takes four months to get those things in Mississipi…I hope that, when I applied for mine, they actually checked my mental history during all that time.
That said, you can’t ban guns or apply overly restrictive regulations on their purchase, as the second amendment guarantees people’s right to possess and bear them. In fact, the entire Constitution rests on this guarantee. As asserted in the nation’s founding document, the Declaration of Independence, the government receives authority to govern from the governed. It maintains that the governed has the right to rescind that authority if abused. If this authority must be reclaimed by force, how will a disarmed people overthrow it? If you think it never could or would happen, I refer you to the War Between the States (“Civil War” being a misnomer…the Confederacy never attempted or intended to take over the U.S. government) as a perfect example. The second amendment is not there so people can hunt animals and eat…it guarantees it in order to offset the possibility of tyranny.
While I’m all for everyone having and carrying–an armed society is a polite one–personal firearms (one of these nifty items should be standard issue if for no other reason than personal defense), like restrictions on speech there should be some reasonable restrictions to keep them away from weirdos.
Reasonable people can find reasonable solutions. We can do this without infringing fundamental rights and blaming everybody and everything. I was hearing all sorts of blather on news networks about how this guy was emulating Neo from The Matrix and how he was desensitized by video games and whatnot. To quote the Geico Caveman…”I have one thing to say…uh, ‘WHAT?'” Sure, it’s R-rated movies’ fault. Blame Grand Theft Auto, because kids can’t tell the difference between a video game drive-by shooting and a real-life one. Anyone who can’t differentiate has pre-existing problems (as this moron did). You don’t train to shoot by playing Quake or Doom or what-have-you, and if you disagree, I invite you to play one for ten minutes and then go shoot a gun. They’re completely different situations, and experience in one is not applicable to the other. Anyone who thinks otherwise, in my qualified opinion as a life-long gamer and recent gun owner and practitioner, is a gross imbecile with absolutely no business offering their absurd thoughts to the public consciousness.
Another issue I don’t understand is, how did he afford his weaponry, anyway? The cost of ownership for the weapons used were in the neighborhood of a grand…the Glock 9mm was well over $600, the .22 Walther over $200, mags run around $20 each (he had 8 of them), and bullets aren’t free. Where does a college student get that sort of money, as most of us had to live off rather meager funds. That’s why average college students generally subsist on macaroni and cheese and noodles, don’t travel much due to gas costs (MAN I’m glad I didn’t have to pay $2.799 per gallon while in school), et cetera. This guy had the added burden of coming from a poor background. So where’d the money come from, eh? I hope somebody follows the money, because I’m fascinated by this. It has no real bearing on anything, but still.