Thursday, April 19, 2007

Tragedy at VT highlights systemic, not gun, problems

Having spent the last week in Australia (well, aside from the day-and-a-half travelling to and from there), I got a rather different interpretation of the tragic events at Virginia Tech than I no doubt would have gotten had I been in North America.

Aussies are great, great people but one thing they didn't grasp at all, even the ones living and working as foreign correspondents in the US, is that US gun laws are not simply changeable at any given time. Over and over again I heard things to the effect of "oh, why doesn't Bush do something about guns" and "the American gun lobby is too powerful and the gun laws too weak" and "thank God we don't live in a place where everyone loves guns so much". Not once did I hear any commentator actually point out that the right to bear arms is guaranteed in the Constitution and that the Constitution is an incredibly difficult document to change even if the will existed to do so which, in this case, it does not.

Nor did I hear a single Australian (or Canadian, probably) commentator note that in states that enacted laws allowing private citizens to carry holstered weapons that violent crime statistics went down, for the simple reason that, for instance, a wannabe rapist or mugger is far less likely to act if he thinks there's a chance he might get his fucking head blown off. When it was even suggested that had students at VT had guns the killer would have been stopped very early on, it was merely pooh-poohed as a ridiculous argument when it is actually a very valid, if unpalatable, argument.

I'm actually no fan of guns but as a Jew whose family members either barely survived or didn't survive the Holocaust, I'm trained in their use and have considered stocking one at my home (deciding so far to wait until my children are old enough to respect firearms). While I'm no fan of guns, I am a believer in "never again" and no one's going to get a free shot at me.

Australians were also loathe to point out - although they had to - that they had a rampage at Port Arthur in Tasmania about a decade ago where a gunman killed 35 people and that Britain, Germany, Canada and other nations with much tougher gun laws than the US has have all had people go on rampages that left innocent victims dead on the ground.

And, in fact, despite Canada's laws, the murder rate by gun in Toronto, last I read, had surpassed, per capita, that of New York's. Why? Because gun laws only take guns out of the hands of people who care about laws. And guess what? That doesn't include murderous scumbags like Cho Seung-hui who committed the massacre at VT or Marc Lepine who gunned down 14 female students at Quebec's Ecole Polytechnique about 15 years ago.

I guess what bothered me most about the coverage of the killings was the rather arrogant suggestion that once again the US is a culture based only on violence and an incomprehensible love of firearms. It has become all too commonplace to bash the US around ad nauseum while, for instance in Sydney, roving gangs of Muslim males rape innocent women and, despite the public outrage, receive often insignificant sentences, far-left sympathetic gibberish about the "difficulties in adjusting" and "cultural differences" and little action from the government.

If those women had guns, those "men" would be lying in gutters with their dicks shot off and the world would be an incrementally better place.

The solution isn't to ban guns, it's to make it more difficult to for them to be used by nut jobs. Steps might include, for instance, smaller magazines for concealed weapons requring more frequent reloading, more concrete actions when a crazy like Seung-hui is identified (he was known to police, school officials and students as a complete whacko but of course the warm-fuzzy PC society made it impossible to stop him before he acted) and simple steps like longer cooling off periods between gun purchase and gun possession and stiffer penalties for losing or selling a firearm when it may fall into the wrong hands.

There are also socio-economic and racial factors at play but we can't talk about them. It would be wrong to suggest that some people might be more prone to using guns in a violent manner because that's profiling and God knows we don't want to do that even if the statistics are staring us right in the face.

You can make all the laws you want but to address this kind of problem, the solution does not lie in banning guns. It lies in keeping them out of the hands of the insane and criminal.


Lexcen said...

Fair comment, from an Australian that agrees with you.

southfield_2001 said...

I figured you might, lex. And, I don't blame the average Australian for their views since, obviously, their media can't be bothered actually reporting the facts.
BTW, per capita, Canada has more guns in the hands of more citizens than the US does. 99.9 per cent of people are perfectly capable of owning firearms without killing anyone.