Wow. 32 people dead.
Guns don’t kill people, people do. That is true, but they do make it easier – it’s a lot harder to run amok with a kitchen knife or a baseball bat than it is with an automatic machine gun.
I don’t think I will ever understand the argument put forward by the anti-gun control lobby in the US that says that the solution to crimes like that which occured in Virginia is to arm everybody. The head of the local branch of the pro-gun association in Virgina was interviewed on Irish news radio this morning and he actually said that the reason this tragedy happened was that this state (Virginia) is trying to ban concealed carry permits. He argued that if students and teachers were carrying concealed firearms, they could have taken the gunman down.
What do you say to somebody that chronically stupid? Seriously. Sure they may have been able to shoot the guy, but is that really an answer? I understand that the US has a different gun culture than the place I’m from, and I’m not arrogant enough to presume that just because the culture I come from is different that somehow it’s superior. But get with the program guys – it’s not the 1870s anymore and times have changed. We now live in the 21st century and there is no good reason to make military style automatic weapons and semi automatic handguns available to the general public. If you think that everyone should have the right to bear arms, why stop with guns. Should people have the right to own atomic weapons or maintain private armies?
If not, what’s the difference?
For me, here’s the argument: If students and teachers had been armed then they MAY have been able to stop the gunman. However, if guns were illegal, then this almost certainly wouldn’t have happened at all.
It’s possible to argue that making guns illegal doesn’t mean they won’t be used, but rather that only criminals will have them, and to a point that’s true. In Ireland, guns are used all the time by criminal gangs, even though here firearms are illegal and the police are not routinely armed. The difference though is that guns are almost never used in personal crime. You will never be mugged at gun point. Drug gangs whack each other and occasionally guns are used in bank robberies and the like, but they are not routinely carried by petty criminals.
The kind of people that go on gun rampages in the US are by definition unhinged – they aren’t typical criminals of the gun-toting type that uses firearms in other countries.. Yet these disturbed people are able to lay their hands not just on a rusty old farming shotgun but on automatic weaponry designed for military use. The result is 32 people dead that really didn’t need to die. Is it really more important for a minority of people to feel . . what? More secure? More prepared in case the federal government comes for them in the night?
Growing up is sometimes uncomfortable, and what we are seeing here is a young country experiencing the growing pains of leaving adolesence. Sometimes, doing the right thing means swallowing your pride.