The Questionable Authority

This is the time to speak.

Today, in Virginia, there was a massive tragedy. Dozens of promising lives have come to an abrupt and unnecessary end. Dozens – hundreds – more lives have been changed forever. All of this has happened because of a single person and his weapons.

There are those in this country who believe that we need to do more to keep weapons out of the wrong hands. Some have chosen to speak up now. There are those in this country who believe that we must be careful not to allow our emotions, after an event like this, to lead us to restrict the basic rights of Americans. Some have chosen to speak up now.

We have been told to shut up. We have been told that this is disrespectful to the families of the dead. We have been told to wait a week, or to not speak up at all. We have been told that if there is ever a time to speak, it certainly is not now, and that we need to show some tact.

The people who say these things are absolutely wrong. This is the time to speak.

People are dead, and we should not use their deaths as toys in a political game. People are dead, and we must not treat the dead as pawns while we mindlessly pursue the agenda of a political party simply because it’s the party that we usually root for. People have been murdered, and we need to respect their lives, their deaths, their memories, and their families.

We must not presume to speak on their behalf, as if they would all share our beliefs, as if they would all approve of what we do and think and say about what their deaths tell us. We cannot presume to speak as if those who died today could somehow be treated as a single entity, united by more than simply the time, place, and nature of their death. We must not forget that each and every person killed today was a person, with individual and unique hopes and dreams. We cannot forget that their friends and families are mourning now, that they need to mourn, and that they need as much time and respect as we can give them.

But we also cannot forget that people are dead. We cannot forget that people have been murdered. We cannot forget that many – too many – lives have been brought to a sudden, random end. We cannot forget that these deaths were not necessary, that they could have been avoided.

We cannot help but wonder if there were things that we should have done before now, that would have prevented this tragedy. We cannot help but wonder if there are things that we should do to keep this from happening again. We cannot help but wonder if something like this could happen again tomorrow. We mourn for the dead but we worry about those who are alive.

How, in good conscience, could we possibly be expected to shut up right now?


  1. #1 Jordan
    April 16, 2007

    I agree with you Mike… there is no reason not to talk about this now.

    I hate to be the one to bring up the Michael Moore argument… but 50 people with families, hopes, dreams, and so forth die every day in Iraq. Iraqi and American. Probably a few hundred dead in Africa somewhere. We don’t hesitate to talk about that, despite how upset their families and friends may be.

    Why not? Because we are used to it.

    We live in a world where killing is A-OK in certain contexts. Many of the guns used therein are supplied by governments. I don’t see how gun control could ever affect a paradigm shift, under these circumstances.

  2. #2 Jeb, FCD
    April 16, 2007

    I can’t help but to think that the US PATRIOT act was passed when emotions were high. It certainly is a double-edged sword to debate and act when an event is so raw and seemingly so unpreventable.

    What can we really do? I’m sure the NRA public relations machine has kicked into high gear right now.

    I love the Canadian model. No hand guns, hunters can still hunt. Soon the conservatives will be bellyaching about slippery slopes and all that. I guess they don’t mind that the slopes are slick because they’re covered with blood.

    Jeb, FCD

  3. #3 Jeb, FCD
    April 16, 2007

    I meant to say “and seeming so preventable.

    Jeb, FCD

  4. #4 Rob Knop
    April 16, 2007

    Jeb — re: the PATRIOT act, that was exactly what I was commenting on in my blog post about this whole busniess.


  5. #5 Mike Dunford
    April 16, 2007

    I do agree with Rob that we need to be careful not to overreact, but I don’t think we should let that keep us from acting.

    In a nutshell:
    This is the time to speak.
    This is the time to act.
    We need to think carefully before we do either.

  6. #6 Jeb, FCD
    April 16, 2007

    Sorry, I missed the point of the original post. Not only do we not need to shut up, but we need to shout barbaric yawps from to roofs of the world.

    Jeb, FCD

  7. #7 Trinifar
    April 17, 2007

    Both the president through a spokesperson and John McCain have found the time to say “we don’t think we need more gun control.” So why shouldn’t the rest of us on the other side of that issue speak our minds? Good post.

  8. #8 wolfwalker
    April 17, 2007

    How, in good conscience, could we possibly be expected to shut up right now?

    Because knee-jerk first reactions are rarely any help to anybody on any side of any of the relevant issues. You want to say something right now. So do I. But I ask the same question of you that I try (don’t always succeed, but try) to ask myself: what will your speaking out accomplish? We don’t even know for sure everything that happened yet! We don’t know who the gunman was, why he committed this atrocity, what weapons he used, where or how he got them, or why he walked all the way across campus and methodically locked down the Norris Building before he started killing people there. We don’t even know for certain that the two sets of shootings were connected — after all, they happened hours apart in two buildings on opposite sides of the campus. We only know that there are sixty people dead and injured.

    When the first flush of emotion dies down and we all have hard evidence, and some time to think, then it will be time to speak. Until then, no one really has anything to say that’s worth listening to.

    Except for those who counsel restraint, of course. :-)

  9. #9 Liberty
    April 17, 2007

    Both the president through a spokesperson and John McCain have found the time to say “we don’t think we need more gun control.” So why shouldn’t the rest of us on the other side of that issue speak our minds? Good post.

    So the ER Physicians in the UK now think it’s time to outlaw pointy knives as they see “too many” stabbings. It’s harder to stab with a cleaver, I suppose. Though I think it would still make quite a mess as did the machetes in Rwanda a few years back.

    People will still find a way to kill each other. Guns as just a nice “scary” thing to outlaw. Hey, drugs are illegal and the US government is spending billions a year without much success (and occasionally hurting or killing innocents due to mistaken identity) in getting people to quit. They are, of course, keeping the prices high, thus making it worthwhile to be a distributor and building up various criminal underground organizations.

    What if this guy would have instead driven his car into a crowded sidewalk at the campus. Would there be any discussion outside his state of mind? Of course not!

    Gun control is purely an emotional “knee jerk” reaction. We have way too much (place your favorite vice or “personal activity” here) control already. What we need is to punish evildoers while at the same time quit wasting our resources on moral crusades that do nothing for weeding out the criminal deviant.

  10. #10 SmellyTerror
    April 17, 2007

    There’s a reason we don’t arm our soldiers with knives, machetes or cars. We give them guns because guns are designed to kill people, and they kill people very, very well. It’s what they are FOR.

    He didn’t just happen to adapt a nice peaceful gun as a makeshift weapon. IT IS A WEAPON. It is a device with a primary purpose of killing human beings, with centuries of development centered around making it better at killing people. It is overwhelmingly superior for this purpose than almost anything he could have gotten his hands on.

    Do you honestly believe this guy could have killed 30+ people with a car? A knife? A machete?

    If they could instigate a massacre “just as easily” with non-gun weapons, WHY DO THEY ALWAYS USE GUNS? Why don’t you see reports from countries with tight gun control about madmen killing dozens of people with knives? Why? BECAUSE IT DOESN’T HAPPEN. People can – suprise surpise – actually outrun a knife. Police can bring the person down far eaiser, and the killer can’t kill as many in the mean time. The argument that people will just use something else flies in the face of reason. Guess what? You don’t have to extrapolate, you don’t need to guess what might happen with tighter restrictions because there are *gasp* other places out there which are not America, and which already have these terrible anti-gun laws. Are they gulags of repression and anarchy? Strangly not.

    Are they largely free from these semi-annual US massacres? Yes, yes they are.

  11. #11 Bart Mitchell
    April 17, 2007

    SmellyTerror, “WHY DO THEY ALWAYS USE GUNS?”

    Timothy McVeigh in Oklahoma City, airplane bombers in NY, Subway poison gas in Japan, Subway bombs in England and Spain, suicide bombers in Israel.

    They don’t always use guns. Actually, they use lots of different ways to terrorize and kill us.

    Reading throughout history, when a nation believes its subjects can’t be trusted with arms, they ban them. These nations invariably refuse other basic rights like: Freedom of the Press, Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Speech.

    Anti gun pundants have asked “Why hasn’t England become a place of restricted civil liberties?” The answer can’t be answered so soon. As the course of history unfolds, our ‘new’ gun laws are far too recent to be tested against thousands of years of history. Especially with the US being the only superpower, and being clearly in favor (right now) of defending personal freedoms.

    As a liberal atheist living in the US for the past 7 years, I see clearly how I could be forced one day to fight for my right to be free. The religious community continually tries to push their ‘moral’ view into our school system, and control the educations of our children at younger ages. It doesn�t take much of a stretch of imagination to envision atheists wearing yellow Darwin fish on our clothes to identify us. Or to have children�s services remove our offspring, declaring indoctrination into atheism as child abuse.

    A citizen�s ownership of weapons is the final check of power against the government. As designed by the framers of the US constitution. Deciding to keep these dangerous weapons in our society will cause deaths, accidental as well as intentional. This is the trade a society must make to be free, because no nation solely exists for the benevolent ruling of its subjects lives. The very nature of the power of government makes it capable of as many horrors as it is capable of good. This has been shown over and over throughout history.

    “You cannot invade mainland America. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.” Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, WW2, Japan.

  12. #12 Jeb, FCD
    April 18, 2007

    Handguns were designed to be portable people killing machines. Period. Canada has banned them. The only recent gun deaths there that come to memory were in Toronto, committed by gangs, with handguns, imported from the US.

    The VT murderer used two handguns ( a .22 and a 9mm, so the news reports). I wonder why. Ease of concealment, magazines that hold large numbers of rounds, etc. perhaps? Handguns are a problem. Deal with it. Let’s fix the problem.

    No one wants to take away a hunter’s right to bear arms. Why is it the right always invokes the slippery slope fallacy, yet when the left does it’s mere hyperbole and grandstanding.

  13. #13 Jeb, FCD
    April 18, 2007

    As far as gun ownership being a final check of power against the government, that’s also a fallacy. All the gun owners in my neighborhood could not match one squad of any branch of the military (except the Air Force and Coast Guard).

    The only thing keeping the government’s military from exercising its might against Americans is that American soldiers have consciences and they won’t kill American citizens.

    That means, lessons have been learned from the Civil War, the Holocaust, and other general stupidity.

    Good night, and good luck.

  14. #14 Bart Mitchell
    April 18, 2007

    Jeb, FCD. Your saying that small arms and improvised explosives used by a determined insurgance can’t stand up to the power of the US military?

    That must explain why were doing so well against that type of warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan. And why the Russians did so well, and the Brits against those upity colonists a couple hundred years ago…. hmm, im seeing a trend.

  15. #15 Metro
    April 18, 2007

    Yeah–that’s it! People need all those guns to fend off invaders!


    The Canadians?



  16. #16 Jerry Dunford
    March 23, 2008

    Why again and again do the WHINERS come out and whine and cry like little brats that cannot have thier way and take all the firearms away from those of us who excersise our constitional right to own and poscess firearms.

    This happens especially after incidents that occur where some nut case, or other such criminal has used a firearm to commit a murder or similar unlawful act.

    The firarm was and is not the problem, but due to both ignorance and wissyness on the part of the leftwing liberals
    who have no guts, no real American spirit in the vein of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Hancock, Lee, Jackson, Teddy Rosevelt, Patton, Eisienhower, Mcarthur, Audie Murphy, Lewis Puller, Jogn Wayne, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry,and millions and millions more, they are lined up along side of, FONDA, STRIESAND, CLOONEY, FRANK, REDFORD, MAHER, CLINTON, SPITZER, O’DONNELL, and thousands more like them.

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