* clips of “There’s Peace in Knowing” performed by N’Harmony…now disbanded, but credit where credit is due.
The very first thing I would like to say is how very sorry I am that this happened. The more I think of it, the less capable I am of objectively thinking about the whole thing. I use this pitiful medium to express my sincere condolences to all the surviving victims, the families of the dead and wounded, and everyone affected by this situation, from the student body and faculty of Virginia Tech to the media-invaded town of Blacksburg. I pray for the God of peace to intervene upon the situation by bringing His presense into the circumstance in an unmistakable way.
There are a lot of people talking about this tragedy and what it means for a variety of matters. I’ll weigh in here, providing my own perspective on the events of Monday morning.
The first thing that people tend to do is wonder what they could have done to prevent the attacks. The truth of the matter is that little can be done without completely changing campus life (or life elsewhere implementing changes to prevent such things). One might say we need metal detectors everywhere, video cameras, continual surveillance, stricter gun control laws, and a lot of other stuff that, as I’m about to explain, can not and will never work.
Concerning changes on the campus level, most schools simply don’t have the budget to institute wholesale changes in how they police their campuses. While people gasp at the realization that there may only be two dozen policemen at a 20,000 student college, how often are more than that needed? This is the first time something on this scale has ever happened, and it is simply not feasible to lock-down an entire campus.
Schools can not realistically hire a battalion of cops to police the campus on the extremely off-chance somebody may go postal some day. That sounds harsh, and I can hear it now…”you don’t think college students are worth the expense?” Not at all…I’m only saying that there aren’t enough funds to do something like that. It’s the same reason the city or county in which you live can’t afford to increase their police/sheriff budgets 500% to cover similar expense. Or why students can’t afford to hire personal bodyguards as they traipse about campus. Mass video surveillance and metal detectors is not feasible, either. Ignoring the pure expense involved with acquiring and installing the devices, how are you going to review it? You run into the same problem…you have to hire more bodies to watch them.
Now here’s the biggie…creating and enforcing stricter gun laws to prevent people from easily obtaining them is being bandied about. It’s especially being bandied about because, in states like Virginia (or, in my case, Mississippi), acquiring guns is a simple fifteen minute process. The logic goes that, if Cho what’s-his-face (okay, bad choice of words, given that he blew his face off at the close of his rampage), a crazy non-citizen, can obtain a gun with no difficulty, then something’s wrong with the system, so tough restrictions on guns need to be implemented. You can’t do this because the right to acquire and carry weapons is a constitutional right, the inclusion of which is integral to the constitutional system and cannot be amended without destabilizing the whole construct.
This is a major issue that’s greatly misunderstood, especially by gun-hating leftists. You can not take guns away from law-abiding citizens, because it is their only insurance policy against tyranny, whether it be common criminal activity or governmental action (like it or not, the Ruby Ridge incident perfectly illustrates the necessity of having personal defense). The validity of the U.S. Constitution depends on the assertion that the right to govern is derived from the governed, and they have the right to get rid of it if it becomes oppressive. You can’t overthrow an oppressive government without an armed citizenry. This is precisely why Iraq couldn’t liberate itself and why Hitler was able to run roughshod over the German people in the 30’s. Removing it destabilizes the grounds upon which the Constitution is built.
So, then, what can we do? Glad you asked!
A problem with people today is that they don’t watch out for themselves. This is a problem prevalent in our society, where we often look toward the government to protect us from everything. Look at the aftermath of hurricane Katrina in New Orleans (which wasn’t even hit by the hurricane itself)…people looked toward the government to warn them, evacuate them, shelter them, feed them, rebuild their homes, give them new jobs, etc. Those looking out for themselves knew to get the heck out of Dodge and took proactive steps to preserve their lives as best they could. In this case, someone other than the RA heard the shots in the residence hall…where they not reported? Someone saw someone acting suspiciously somewhere along the way between the two halls…did nobody think it odd? People heard gunshots in and around the hall…why didn’t most of them respond in a way to preserve themselves? It’s not foolproof, but there were some real heroes who kept their heads about them and stepped up to the challenge to do something about it…if not for them, how many others might have suffered and died? The main one in my mind is the septuagenarian college professor, a Holocaust survivor, who barricaded the door as the gunman shot him through it, so his students could get away. There are other stories of this sort of decisive action, and I feel that if more of us were of a similar mind, perhaps more might have been done to stem the killing.
Another item concerning gun controls…under Mississippi law (and, I assume, Virgina law, as well; given that they seem to be similar), I have a right to apply for a concealed-carry license. This license permits me to carry any gun I can conceal on my person anywhere I go EXCEPT for miscellaneous government buildings, airports, and school facilities. The reason for this is, I presume, to ensure that no dangerous disruption is caused if a weapon is observed in such an environment. However, if someone has a right to carry it everywhere else, what actual difference does it make? It makes a bit more sense in an airport, as crossing into states disallowing concealed carry would make it a pain for all involved, but elsewhere, it’s foolish. If one is responsible enough to carry a gun into Walmart, what’s the difference between that and going into a post office? What if one of the professors or students had a handgun on him or her at the time the gunman strolled into the room? Might it have made a difference? We’ll never know.
People such as myself who carry handguns on a routine basis are not nuts or paranoid. They’re looking out for themselves, their families, their friends, and even complete strangers. I wish to God that He would let me go and trade places with one of those people in the building for the simple reason that I’d have had my gun and might have been able to stop this punk in his tracks. I believe that echoes the wish of every other gun owner in the country. One person could have made a difference…after all, one killer made the difference between just another day and one that will be forever engraved on the memory of those who were there.
Gun aficionados tend to follow a certain mindset, whether they realize it or not. Jeff Cooper, often credited as the father of modern handgun combat, applied the Marine Corps color code of combat mindset to armed civilians. The “white condition” is where one is completely unprepared and unaware of what’s going on around them…what I’d call “sheep mode”; when confronted with a threat, the person will typically freeze up and do nothing to protect oneself. The “yellow condition” is where one is relaxed but aware…the mindset is, “something could happen today.” The “orange condition” means the alert individual in yellow condition has identified a potential threat…”that guy is acting funny.” It sets a condition on pursuing action…”if that guy does X, I have to take him down.” Finally, “red condition” is when the earlier set condition is met and the individual acts on it. People who carry are perpetually in a yellow condition…”I might have to use my gun today.” Ever since I was jumped in a parking lot my junior year in high school, I’ve adopted that mindset when out in public…”someone could start something with me today”…which is analogous to the yellow condition and mentality of looking out for oneself mentioned before. It was already there when I started packing. If more people were of the same mind, we would all be better off whether they carry weapons or not. It’s not paranoia; it’s staying ready so you don’t have to get ready.
Going nuts with changing everything will accomplish little besides giving people a shiny happy feeling, but changing people’s mindset when they’re out and about would be simplest and easiest. The sad thing is, after Monday, everyone who had to deal with that will have already learned that lesson in the hardest way. I hope and pray others will learn it by example.