Today, some around the 'net are pointing to relatively relaxed gun laws in Virginia as a contributing factor to the killings. Virginia allows effectively unlimited purchase of assault weapons for anyone over 18 who passes a background check; it's for children over 12 to possess firearms under certain circumstances, and a legal loophole makes it okay to buy second-hand guns at gun shows with no waiting period or background check.
But some pro-Second-Amendment folks argue the opposite. University administration and local law enforcement failed to protect VA Tech students from this and previous campus shootings, their logic goes, so there should in fact be more guns on campus -- in the hands of law-abiding students and profs alike, for self-protection.
BB reader Aaron Krowne says,
Virginia had just outlawed Concealed Carry on campus (At Virginia Tech's behest).Those sentiments are echoed in items that appeared in local online press and blogs after an August, 2006 shooting at the university. Snip from "Unarmed and vulnerable," a Roanoke.com op-ed by Virginia Tech grad student Bradford B. Wiles:
I am a VT alum.
The link is a blog writeup of mine pointing out that Virginia Tech had just "outlawed" concealed carry and reiterated its "gun-free campus" policy. In fact, in response to a scare last fall, the school had disciplined a student who was licensed and carrying a concealed weapon, and since then, agitated to defeat a Virginia law that would permit campus concealed carry.
I've quoted VT spokesman Larry Hincker, including an essay of his last year in a local paper. The stance now looks pretty foolish given the tragic result this zero-tolerance "no guns" policy has produced. Will people ever learn that becoming passive and relying fully on the authorities for protection doesn't work?
On Aug. 21 at about 9:20 a.m., my graduate-level class was evacuated from the Squires Student Center. We were interrupted in class and not informed of anything other than the following words: "You need to get out of the building."Here's another related item at Roanoke.com
Upon exiting the classroom, we were met at the doors leading outside by two armor-clad policemen with fully automatic weapons, plus their side arms. Once outside, there were several more officers with either fully automatic rifles and pump shotguns, and policemen running down the street, pistols drawn.
It was at this time that I realized that I had no viable means of protecting myself.
Gun bill gets shot down by panel: HB 1572, which would have allowed handguns on college campuses, died in subcommittee.After Monday's tragedy, it seems unlikely that more permissive policies around guns on campus for self-defense would win much support. And many argue this is not the answer -- metal detectors, tighter on-campus security, or better alert systems are among the alternate remedies proposed.
Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker was happy to hear the bill was defeated. "I'm sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly's actions because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus."
No matter which side of the gun debate you're on, one thing is obvious: anyone who is capable of and intent on killing 32 innocent fellow human beings will do so regardless of law. Homicidal maniacs can always be counted on to violate the boundaries set forth by others who want to promote a civil, peaceful society.
Snip from that Facebook group description:
WE UNDERSTAND HOW DIFFICULT THIS IS, AND WANT TO HELP SHARE YOUR STORY.... DATELINE NBC URGENTLY LOOKING FOR ANYONE WHO KNEW SEUNG HUI CHO. WE HAVE PRODUCERS AND CAMERA CREWS NEARBY READY TO TALK TO ANYONE WHO CAN SUPPLY INFORMATION ABOUT HIM AND HIS MOVEMENTS LEADING UP TO THE TRAGEDY. WE ARE ATTEMPTING TO PRODUCE A THOUGHTFUL AND INFORMATIVE REPORT THAT MIGHT SHED SOME LIGHT ON THE TRAGEDY AND POSSIBLY HELP PREVENT SOMETHING LIKE THIS FROM HAPPENING AGAIN.And *we* understand how difficult it is to remember to switch off Caps Lock while trolling Facebook for primetime TV sources.
St. Edward's University, a small, Catholic, liberal arts college in Austin, TX has closed classes until 5pm today as a result of a bomb threat. Students and faculty were evacuated but as of 11:21am CST no official information has been provided outside of that posted on the website.
Not surprisingly, there seems to be a strong police showing given the size of the school (about 5,000 students). If there *are* copycat events, hopefully this is evidence that law enforcement and school administrations will be more prepared for them given the heightened alert.
Previously on BB:
Reader comment: Ted Brown says,
Sadly apropos, I finished watching this documentary--which condemns gun control--only minutes before reading about the VA Tech massacre. Penn & Teller's "Gun Control is Bullshit". It even touches upon theoretical events eerily similar to what happened yesterday. I was on the fence before about gun laws, but this is a one-two punch that's hard to ignore.Jon says,
Here's what happens when there is someone with a gun nearby: Link.Gretchen says,
This article describes the University of Maine's weapons policy. Students are allowed to have them on campus, but they must be registered and stored with Public Safety.Tale says,
Re TV producers failing to switch off caps lock: unfortunately many TV producers write scripts all day in caps and consider it normal typing. My job involves putting TV content on the web, and as an Internet person it took some time to realise "PUT THIS ON THE INTERNET" did not mean they were yelling at me. That pathetic Facebook page would look like normal typing to the TV producer who wrote it.Eric Crampton says,
Link to discussion of a similar case at Appalachian State 5 years ago. It wasn't a gun free campus. Two students went back to the parking lot, got their guns from their cars, and stopped the shooter. The link provides text of news stories from the Charlotte Observer which are no longer live.Taco Del Gato says,
Here is an interesting study regarding public multiple-victim shootings, and the effects of law written by some Econ. folks from SUNY and University of Chicago Law School.Will says,
To quote the (sorry, long) Conclusion of the paper:Not only does the passage of a shall issue law have a significant impact on multiple shootings but it is the only law related variable that appears to have a significant impact. Other law enforcement efforts from the arrest rate for murder to the death penalty to waiting periods and background checks are not systematically related to multiple shootings. We also find that shall issue laws deter both the number of multiple shootings and the amount of harm per shooting. Finally, because the presence of citizens with concealed handguns may be able to stop attacks before the police are able to arrive, our data also allows us to provide the first evidence on the reduction in severity of those crimes that still take place.Link.
Apropos of the arguments about the Virginia Tech shooting and gun control:Yesterday, by pure coincidence, an 18 year old crashed his car into friend's house, through the wall and into the living room. She was asleep upstairs and unharmed, although a passenger in the car was killed. Police say speed was a factor in the crash.Link to full text of article.
Regardless of your position on gun control in general, it seems obvious that a college would consider it in its best interests to keep guns out of the hands of their students, at least while on campus. Young people are impulsive and prone to make poor judgments about all sorts of things- drugs and alcohol, sex, cars and guns, especially in the presence of their peers.
College administrators are in a good position to witness the outcome of poor decision-making among large groups of young adults. They see the alcohol poisoning, the car crashes, the date-rapes and the other stupidity otherwise smart students get into. Why on earth would they permit these people to carry guns onto campus, and into classrooms?
Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email: email@example.com.