Pharyngula

Over 20 killed at Virginia Tech

This is horrifying: somebody went on an armed rampage at Virginia Tech and killed at least 21 before killing himself. No clue yet on why this happened.

Comments

  1. #1 Brando
    April 16, 2007

    That SUCKS! Wasn’t it a “Gun Free Campus”?

  2. #2 Martin Wagner
    April 16, 2007

    Anyone want to start bids on how long it will take the Religious Right to co-opt this tragedy as they did Columbine for a new round of “We need the Bible in our schools!” agitprop?

  3. #3 biosparite
    April 16, 2007

    A gun-free campus has got to be an oxymoron. A gun-free anywhere in the USA enjoys at best a vanishingly-small probability (the chances are between slim and none, and Slim left town last week). There are approximately 200 million guns in this country. One news report said the shooter used a 9mm semi-automatic pistol or pistols. Lots of ammo capacity, rapid-fire, easy reload, not much recoil. And the VA Tech shooter broke Charles Whitman’s record at the University of Texas tower from nearly 41 years ago. The only remarkable thing about the VA Tech story is that such rampages don’t happpen more often with all the guns in the hands of the general public. Oh, sorry, Messers. Bush and Cheney, I forgot: guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

  4. #4 mothra
    April 16, 2007

    President Bush has already staked out his right to bear arms territory on the incident, the usual blarney of it’s all right to carry guns but breaking the law is wrong.’ Way back when– death of John Lennon, Ronald Regan responded to the press by saying, “In California, we have strict gun enforcement laws, an offender would get a fine and 15 years in the pen.” This quote is a near as I recall it. An (at the time) local newspaper columnist, Harlan Ellison put it in perspective: “John Lennon is dead.”

  5. #5 PZ Myers
    April 16, 2007

    Let’s not start placing blame now.

    This is on the order of 20 young people gunned down at what should be the most promising, positive time in their lives. I can’t even imagine the pain going on there right now.

  6. #6 Elf Eye
    April 16, 2007

    The first murder, at the dormitory, is supposed to have grown out of an argument between a man and a woman he had been dating. This fight was witnessed by an RA who was herself shot when she tried to intervene. The bulk of the killings took place in an engineering hall. Maybe a coincidence, maybe not, but the engineering hall was hit by a bomb scare last week. The death toll is now being reported as either 31 or 32.

  7. #7 robd
    April 16, 2007

    I am sure the media will be all over it for days.
    Sadly, a terrible day in Virginia would be only a very light day in Bagdad.

    Do you think any politician will ponder on that?

  8. #8 sdh
    April 16, 2007

    I was a student at Florida when the Gainesville murders occurred (serial killer)… I can only imagine the shock and horror. Definitely a day for a stiff drink.

  9. #9 Russell
    April 16, 2007

    biosparite writes:

    The only remarkable thing about the VA Tech story is that such rampages don’t happpen more often..

    I would say just the opposite: we should remark that such rampages, despite their newsworthiness, are indeed very rare, and not nearly as much risk to people as ordinary but less newsworthy and less reported dangers. As scientists, we should remark upon this, lest sensationalism make what is a very rare event seem something else.

  10. #10 Kenneth Mareld
    April 16, 2007

    This is a sad and terrible day for Virginia Tech, and all schools in our country. Please let the visceral political pontificating hold over until we know more about what/why it happened. Statements now: pro-gun, anti-gun are only reactionary until more information is available. It helps not a whit to declaim what will be the many reactions to this terrible tragedy. I ask you to exercise some self-control while we mourn this tragedy. You cannot give it meaning until you know more. But who am I to tell you this? No one. I’m just another person writing on this blog. Mourn now, and start yelling to High Heaven (to use a metaphor) when the facts come out.

    Ken

  11. #11 CalGeorge
    April 16, 2007

    Now 32. Just awful. Those poor, poor families.

  12. #12 Colugo
    April 16, 2007

    The gun control issue aside (I favor licensing and registration, and a ban on certain classes of weapons like 50 caliber myself) there is an incorrect notion that these media storm-generating school mass slayings are somehow unique to the United States. They’re not. Are there more of them? Sure. But while these events are spectacular media-wise (in an atrocious way), they are rare in any case. (Of course, the US has a much higher rate of ordinary homicides than other Western countries. But Scotland is surprisingly high in knife homicide.)

    1989: École Polytechnique massacre, Montreal – 14 murdered, all women
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89cole_Polytechnique_massacre

    1992: Concordia University massacre – 4 murdered
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concordia_University_massacre

    2002: Erfurt massacre, Germany – 16 murdered
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erfurt_massacre

    2006: Dawson school shooting, Montreal – 1 murdered, many others wounded
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dawson_College_shooting

    School shootings
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_shooting

  13. #13 mothra
    April 16, 2007

    My comment was not to be construed as ‘blame’ but rather disgust that first statements from our elected officials even included a nod toward the issue of gun control. There was absolutely no place in an acknowledgment of sorrow over a national tragedy for politicization of an event.

  14. #14 Bob O'H
    April 16, 2007

    Thanks for the info Elf Eye. This can’t be a lot of fun for you or your students.

    Bob

  15. #15 Robert
    April 16, 2007

    A sad thing (but by no means the saddest) is that this will be an excuse for many to rail against whatever “evil” they despise, be it guns, religion, atheist colleges, or video games. Another terrible tragedy rendered into political talking points and fired into the next debate. And those truly responsible will of course never be held accountable (especially as the gunman is dead, for surely the blame falls first on his shoulders and choices).

  16. #16 Anton Mates
    April 16, 2007

    Death toll is up to 31, according to the Associated Press.

    Fuck.

  17. #17 Zeteo Eurisko
    April 16, 2007

    This is my school we’re talking about. I just returned home from campus, picking up my wife. Everyone I know that I’ve talked to so far is OK, but since this took place in an engineering building, I have the horrible feeling that someone I know is dead.

    I park next to Norris, where the worst of the shooting took place, three times a week.

    Please, let’s be respectful with the politics of this situation, as at least 31 are dead. These are my classmates and professors, and we loved them.

  18. #18 C. Birkbeck
    April 16, 2007

    Let’s not start placing blame now.

    This is on the order of 20 young people gunned down at what should be the most promising, positive time in their lives. I can’t even imagine the pain going on there right now.

    Thank you. There will plenty of blame tomorrow.

    My heart goes out to all the families of Virgina Tech. I attended Dawson College, my brother currently enrolled there, and my father teaches there. I remember running through the rain going to my room after learning about the Dawson shootings, phoning home to see if my father and brother were okay (my father was at home, my brother left ~20 minutes beforehand).

    It’s a scary thing.

  19. #19 The Ridger
    April 16, 2007

    Let’s also not forget that 45 people and 58 injured were killed at the Bath School and no guns were even involved. Guns just make it easier, they don’t make it happen.

    My thoughts are with those affected.

  20. #20 The Ridger
    April 16, 2007

    Make that “Let’s also not forget that 45 people were killed and 58 injured at the Bath School.” I’m too upset to proofread well.

  21. #21 Geral
    April 16, 2007

    They’re estimating some 30+ now, what a sad sad day.

    And I read bush’s comment about right to bear arms *sigh* I don’t want to hear that right now, this is all about the families. Politics are sure to come later.

  22. #22 Carlie
    April 16, 2007

    Geral,
    That’s just what I was going to post. I heard on the radio the statement by his press representative, and it started off with the right to bear arms and followed up with how it was a tragedy. Can’t he at least acknowledge the suffering before bowing at the feet of the NRA?

  23. #23 MoMo
    April 16, 2007

    Sad, yes, indeed.

    But is it confirmed that the gunman shot himself? I’ve only read reports that the “gunman was killed”. I guess some details like that help me piece together something as irrational as school shootings to some sort of internal pain or acknowledgment of wrongdoing.

  24. #24 Zeteo Eurisko
    April 16, 2007

    MoMo – No word yet on whether the shooter killed himself or was shot.

  25. #25 femalesci
    April 16, 2007
  26. #26 Andrew Cooper
    April 16, 2007

    Unbelievably awful. Many thoughts cross my mind here in England, but sorrow is my main emotion. It has to be wrong to start debating the politics of this right now but I have to say that I was shocked at the White House reaction.

  27. #27 T_U_T
    April 16, 2007

    [blockqoute] there is an incorrect notion that these media storm-generating school mass slayings are somehow unique to the United States.[/blockquote]
    .
    I think, they are. At least america + canada account for 3/4 of all school massacres. US 21 canada 3 germany 2 UK 1 jap 1.

  28. #28 Eamon Knight
    April 16, 2007

    Something doesn’t add up here. According to the reports, there was one (maybe two) shot in rez around 7:15am. The engineering building — where the bulk of the fatalities occurred — was shot up two hours later. WTF were the authorities doing for all that time — apparently the shooter was running around loose, but the school was on business-as-usual?

    Yeah, I know: early news reports suck at accuracy; wait for the full chronology to come out.

  29. #29 Crazyharp81602
    April 16, 2007

    I’m trying to keep my bloggies as updated as I can about the incident. At 4:30, there’s going to be a press conference that deals with this horrible incident. And that includes a press conference from the President of the United States.

  30. #30 Zeteo Eurisko
    April 16, 2007

    Eamon – I find it hard to blame the university. We got e-mails starting at 9:26 AM, warning us of the shooting on campus and telling us to stay inside. They cranked up the warnings quickly as soon as they learned it was not an isolated incident. How could anyone have predicted that a what seemed like an ugly lover’s spat would turn into such a horrible tragedy? We have to remember that this is a university with 26,000 students. Getting word out to a university of this size — let alone taking the appropriate action in response to sketchy details — takes time.

  31. #31 Christian Burnham
    April 16, 2007

    The last massacre in a British school occurred over 10 years ago in Dunblane, Scotland.

    Soon after, the British government instituted a ban on all handguns. There have been no mass school-shootings since.

  32. #32 COD
    April 16, 2007

    I read somewhere that there was an initial lock down that was lifted – then the shooter hit the engineering building. However, 80% of reports tend to be 1/2 wrong in these stories, so who knows. Too bad one of the kids in the area wasn’t armed – could of taken the asshole out and saved a bunch of lives.

  33. #33 misterbowen
    April 16, 2007

    While certainly not one to defend El Presidente Bush if I can help it, the statement about gun control, etc. came in response to a reporter’s question and was not part of the initial statement to reporters according to the transcript on whitehouse.gov http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/04/20070416-1.html

    make of that what you will…

  34. #34 Kevembuangga
    April 16, 2007

    This is just a matter of education :

    “Thus the metric system did not really catch on in the States, unless you count the increasing popularity of the 9mm bullet.” – Dave Barry

  35. #35 Brandon
    April 16, 2007

    New York Times reports that the possible gunman had shot himself, had no ID, and the self-inflicted wound had rendered him hard to recognize.

  36. #36 Phil
    April 16, 2007

    It’s humorous that the President just called on a “loving God” to help the victims on CNN. Where was God when they were killed?

  37. #37 Ross Raffin
    April 16, 2007

    Funny how you can exactly predict when Bush is going to use any reference to God. I got to fill in the blank “Laura and I are both…”

    “praying for you.”

    If I were in the whitehouse (and there were no political repercussions) I would be screaming for the to get the Mogadishu treatment and have his corpse dragged through the streets.

  38. #38 llewelly
    April 16, 2007

    In Washington, the House and Senate observed moments of silence for the victims and President Bush was reportedly “horrified” by news of the attacks.
    “His thoughts and prayers are with them, and we are monitoring the situation,” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

    Thank you for nothing, Pres Bush.

  39. #39 SWT
    April 16, 2007

    While certainly not one to defend El Presidente Bush if I can help it, the statement about gun control, etc. came in response to a reporter’s question and was not part of the initial statement to reporters according to the transcript on whitehouse.gov

    Perhaps, but the President could also have chosen to say that now not the time focus on policy — we need to focus today on finding the facts, helping those in mourning, and helping Tech find a way back to normalcy.

    I found this incident particularly chilling because I had classes in Norris Hall a few short decades ago, and had lived in the dorm that was involved. One just doesn’t expect things like this to happen in such a familiar setting.

  40. #40 Dawn
    April 16, 2007

    Child #1 is at VT now, a freshperson, and is very upset. But, while grateful that Child is alive and well, my heart goes out to the poor parents and friends of those who died. At this time, Child #1’s friends are all alive and accounted for.

  41. #41 bernarda
    April 16, 2007

    My sympathy for the families of the victims.

    Of course as earlier here there is always some wingnut who claims that lack gun control is not a problem.

  42. #42 Nomen Nescio
    April 16, 2007

    my condoleances to the families and friends of the victims.

    unfortunately, we likely never will get any good explanation for why this happened, at very least if the perpetrator is among the dead. people whose thinking is rationally explicable do not go doing this sort of thing, and without analyzing the psychopathology of this particular case of madness, it’s pointless to speculate about what may have caused the mental misfire that set it all off.

    nor, equally unfortunately, is there any real way to prevent such events. lightning strikes people; mudslides level towns; and sometimes, insane minds snap and send their bearers on pointless killing sprees. there’s no “why” to it, any more than there is to being born, or to dying. a sad fact on a sad day.

  43. #43 Roman Werpachowska
    April 16, 2007

    “unfortunately, we likely never will get any good explanation for why this happened”

    There is some kind of obsession with violence, some dark love of it, in the American culture. For example, in Europe a blogger would be less likely to title his post about geography “Somebody, please take this myth outside and shoot it”. It would just sound wrong, too violent.

  44. #44 Kseniya
    April 16, 2007

    It just never ends. One of these two victims was my good friend’s cousin. We’re still recovering from that one, and from a fatal stabbing at a local high school that happened around the same time.

    Something is broken. Badly. I want to cry. Again.

    Why do people persist in believing – INSISTING – that “god” has some role, any role, in something like this? Or in anything at all? And why can’t I get the word “sadist” out of my head?

  45. #45 femalesci
    April 16, 2007

    anyone who things school shootings are just ‘random’ should read this:

    http://www.boingboing.net/2006/10/02/school_shootings_mal.html

  46. #46 C. Edward Wagner
    April 16, 2007

    I know that there are a lot of people who feel that we should have stricter laws concerning the availability of guns. I guess that if we lived in a perfect world, no one would have to own a gun. But a gun is nothing more than a tool and if properly used, causes no harm. It is no different from an ax, or a brick, or a can of gasoline. I remember just after the Long Island Railroad massacre that there was an outcry to ban handguns. But would it have made any difference if Colin Ferguson had thrown a bomb into that car? Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people with fuel oil and fertilizer. Should they be banned? A person determined to wreak havoc and commit murder will use any means available. More than 80 people were killed in a social club in New York when someone threw a gasoline bomb into a crowded room. As long as there are bad guys out there and they have guns, I think the playing field should be level. To tell the good guys that they can’t have guns is unfair. It gives the perpetrators an unequal advantage. A mugger might think twice about mugging someone if he thought he would get shot for his trouble. It seems to me, that if there had been one armed citizen, properly trained in the use of firearms, in that classroom, this psychopath might have been stopped from killing and wounding those innocent people.

  47. #47 RavenT
    April 16, 2007

    I’m really sorry, Kseniya. I’ve always been impressed with the wisdom in your postings; the more you write about yourself, the more I see your strength as well. I’m just sorry you have so much to cope with.

  48. #48 TomK
    April 16, 2007

    I saw president bushes speech and he jumped right in with using this incident to shit on athiests.

    He said something like “Most american’s are praying for you (EXCEPT FOR ATHEISTS)” Right away, he started using the incident to exclude non-religious people.

    I have an idea, how about instead of praying to a god that doesn’t exist, we do something about it.

  49. #49 Lee Bowman
    April 16, 2007

    “On 14 September 2004, the US Federal Assault Weapons Act expired. The 1994 Act banned certain kinds of military-style assault guns, including Uzis and AK-47s. Now that the ban has ended, Americans should be ready to see these weapons and others like them back on their streets.”
    http://www.iansa.org/regions/namerica/assault_gun_ban.htm

    Bush and the Republican Congress let the bill expire, under pressure from the NRA and Republican constituents. But of course as the NRA reminds us, guns don’t kill people … I guess you could add, “Hammers don’t pound in nails, people pound in nails.” Hammers just make it a lot easier …

  50. #50 Tom
    April 16, 2007

    In reply to Mr. Wagner, in the UK almost nobody has access to guns because they are illegal; deaths from firearms are in low double figures per year. Sure, the hardened criminals can get them, but even the criminals are unlikely to use them, precisely because nobody will be shooting at them. Accidental deaths from firearms are close to zero. Since the Dunblane incident there have been no massacres.

    We don’t see this as our government taking away our liberty, we see it as a good measure agreed to by the people because it makes so much sense. If you stop anyone in a UK street and ask them if the gun prohibition is a good thing, they will almost certainly agree that it is.

    I am so dreadfully sorry for those students and their families.

  51. #51 Jim Royal
    April 16, 2007

    But a gun is nothing more than a tool and if properly used, causes no harm.

    This is deliberate disinformation. The purpose of a gun is to kill. If used properly, it will kill effectively. A gun is not a defensive tool; it is an offensive tool. The entire reason guns exist is to kill people at a distance so that you are not obligated to use your bare hands.

  52. #52 Nomen Nescio
    April 16, 2007

    The purpose of a gun is to kill. If used properly, it will kill effectively.

    i’m sorry, but this seems very much like disinformation. it seems to presume knowledge of some unnamed firearm manufacturer’s (or designer’s) original intent; seems to assume that this nebulous intent is what has primary importance, over and above the device(s) user(s) deliberate actions; and seems to assume that this same intent is what decides the moral value of the uses the device is put to.

    by this standard, i should be condemned for misusing (improperly using; abusing?) the shotguns i have access to, because i’ve never killed anybody with them. this seems disingenuous.

    it seems to further assume all killing is always a bad thing, without making allowance for the possibility that killing might sometimes be the least bad of several bad options available.

    it’s also a sweeping generalization. there are plenty of guns that were not, in fact, designed or built for killing.

    now could we please get back to talking about the people involved in this tragedy? they seem to me both more important and more interesting than their lifeless tools.

  53. #53 Richard
    April 16, 2007

    Thirty three young people are dead and another twenty four are injured. And some here, who call themselves humanists, jump at the opportunity to promote their petty agenda, whether it is pro-gun, anti-gun, anti-Bush or whatever.

    Just STFU and show some class.

  54. #54 CalGeorge
    April 16, 2007

    I can’t watch Bush and not think about all the people he has killed in Iraq. I don’t know how to reconcile his sensitivity today with the horrors he has inflicted on the people of Iraq.

  55. #55 andyo
    April 16, 2007

    This is horrible.

    Whenever something like this happens I wonder why these shootings happen most (only?) in developed countries. Something like this has never happened in mine (I live now in the U.S., but was born and raised elsewhere). Extreme violence and multiple deaths in South America is always drug-related or terrorist-related (there was one exceptional and probably the most horrifying -it was shown on TV live- event in a prison mutinied).

    Even gangs of hard-ass kidnappers or robbers who carry AK-forty-whatevers and are not afraid to kill at all, won’t if they are given what they want. If they do, they don’t do it “needlessly” (for their purpose of course).

    I am trying to see what’s different. Middle class people? The majority of people in those countries is poor, and don’t have time to be so insanely pissed at others. They only wanna feed themselves and their family that particular day. Maybe that’s it? Too much free time for unsupervised teenagers, who don’t have to go out on the street 16 hours and sell candy at the corner?

  56. #56 CalGeorge
    April 16, 2007

    Not to mention all the people he executed in Texas.

  57. #57 Lee Bowman
    April 16, 2007

    Tom said:

    “In reply to Mr. Wagner, in the UK almost nobody has access to guns because they are illegal; deaths from firearms are in low double figures per year.”

    The NRA disagrees, stating

    “Whether measured by surveys of crime victims or by police statistics, serious crime rates are not generally higher in the United States than England.”

    http://www.nraila.org/Issues/FactSheets/Read.aspx?ID=78

    On Wayne LaPierre’s NRA site, members are descending on St. Louis for their annual meeting, to celebrate their second amendment rights, and to talk about strategies to oppose the Brady Gun Law Defense Fund. It looks like their timing couldn’t have been worse.
    http://www.nra.org/

  58. #58 Tom
    April 16, 2007

    In reply to Lee Bowman, I was specifically talking about shootings, not serious crime in general.

    And Richard, this is NOT a petty agenda. This is a serious issue that needs attention, ESPECIALLY at a time like this.

  59. #59 Christian Burnham
    April 16, 2007

    Richard- you’re overreacting.

    I think the comments today have been quite reasoned and everyone is aware that we need to wait for all the facts to come in.

    How does shutting up solve anything?

    I don’t think there’s anything respectful about silence today. Let’s admit that we have a problem and start thinking about ways to prevent things like this from happening again. Anyone who feels it’s too soon to do this doesn’t have to read any of these comments.

  60. #60 Jud
    April 16, 2007

    Tom said: “And Richard, this is NOT a petty agenda.”

    OK.

    “This is a serious issue that needs attention, ESPECIALLY at a time like this.”

    No. What needs attention is whatever is in our poor power to do in order to comfort the friends and loved ones of those who were murdered.

  61. #61 Tom
    April 16, 2007

    OK – point taken. Let’s all have respectful silence.

    It’s frustrating that we can’t do anything to comfort those families.

  62. #62 windy
    April 16, 2007

    I’d like to apologize on behalf of Europeans for the silly comment above on American ‘love of violence’ and offer my condolences.

  63. #63 hoary puccoon
    April 16, 2007

    The fact that America has about the same rate of serious crime as Western European countries but massively higher rates of lethal shootings indicates it isn’t something wrong with our society or our ethos or our collective unconscious– it’s the availability of guns.
    What must the parents be going through? To scrimp and save for that tuition, thinking you are buying your child a bright future…. How could you face that kind of pain?

  64. #64 Nomen Nescio
    April 16, 2007

    if a lethal shooting is a serious crime, and if the USA really has about the same rate of serious crime per capita as comparable other countries (assuming such statistics are even comparable at all — which i doubt, having immigrated from one European country to the U.S.), then how much does it matter if the fraction of serious crimes which are lethal shootings differs one way or the other? paraphrasing Archie Bunker, would it really make us happier if they was pushed out windows?

    indeed, the parents of these poor kids must be going through hell on earth. by way of alleviating their suffering, how about we blame — and, hopefully, address — the person who murdered those kids? ’twasn’t a piece of cold metal went on that rampage all by itself. pieces of metal may make good scapegoats, but scapegoating solves no problems, whether societal, mental, or any other kind.

    if the USA has a problem with violent crime (and i’m inclined to say it does), then we need to address the causes of crime, and we need to deal with the criminals. moral panics over the criminals’ tools do not help us. improving the national economy might reduce crime; reforming the penal system might, too. increasing the crime resolution rate and the likelihood that criminals will face justice couldn’t hurt either. and this cultural fascination with violence that freaks out at the sight of a nipple, yet doesn’t mind the same nipple if it’s obscured by a spray of blood, well…

  65. #65 Ian H Spedding FCD
    April 16, 2007

    biosparite wrote:

    Oh, sorry, Messers. Bush and Cheney, I forgot: guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

    You mean the US has a real problem with guns that jump up and shoot people all by themselves?

  66. #66 Ian H Spedding FCD
    April 16, 2007

    Tom wrote:

    In reply to Mr. Wagner, in the UK almost nobody has access to guns because they are illegal; deaths from firearms are in low double figures per year. Sure, the hardened criminals can get them, but even the criminals are unlikely to use them, precisely because nobody will be shooting at them. Accidental deaths from firearms are close to zero. Since the Dunblane incident there have been no massacres.

    And how many gun massacres were there in the UK when firearms laws were more relaxed?

    The fact is that firearms offences have risen overall since the tighter controls were imposed following Dunblane.

    Press reports suggest that guns have almost become fashion accessories amongst young men in some parts of the UK’s big cities.

    We don’t see this as our government taking away our liberty,…

    Speak for yourself.

    And try reading John Stuart Mill on liberty. You can justify curbing individual liberty only if it prevents a much greater injury to others.

    The draconian controls imposed after Dunblane were the worst kind of law in that they penalized the innocent for something they had not done nor were ever likely to do and failed to prevent the young thugs and professional criminals from obtaining all the guns they wanted.

    I have long had a hobby interest in firearms. Why shouldn’t I, or anyone else who has the same interest, be able to shoot for sport or recreation if we choose providing, of course, it can be regulated so as to minimize the risk to third parties? Why should we be in the absurd position that the British Olympic pistol shooting team has to go abroad to Switzerland in order to train?

    …we see it as a good measure agreed to by the people because it makes so much sense. If you stop anyone in a UK street and ask them if the gun prohibition is a good thing, they will almost certainly agree that it is.

    Quite probably true because the shooting fraternity in the UK was such a small part of the population. But Mill also warns against the majority trampling on the rights of minorities just because they happen to be a majority.

    None of the people who surrendered their guns after Dunblane had killed anyone nor were likely to, so far as we know, so why should they have been punished for something they hadn’t done?

    I am so dreadfully sorry for those students and their families.

    We agree on that, at least.

  67. #67 M. Randolph Kruger
    April 17, 2007

    PZ-Watch but dont comment here often. But here is my read as an ex-military guy. Dont complain about guns, this was a rampaging nutcase or someone who had just not gotten something wanted. Girl, professors, grades… doesnt matter. Its time to outlaw barbeque grilles too if you want to outlaw guns. It is as one of the commenters said, a tool to achieve his desired means.

    If two people had been packing in that room, one or more would have gotten him or sent him running for cover. I dont know anyone who carries a revolver anymore. I personally carry a .40 legally and over at EM I posted that I have had to pull it out but not use it 4 times in the last year or so.

    So why the reference to outlawing grilles? Boys and girls of outrage and parents of the dead and dying please be advised that this is one of the most potent micro-wmd’s out there. Screw the 9 mm. A two pound black powder charge strapped to a tank of that and it would have brought the place down. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris were going for a 4 tank shot of this but it was too hard to carry across the open field for two skinny kids.

    It doesnt end the suffering of the nation, the parents and friends of those killed and injured to know that they went via bullets rather than being immolated by a propane bomb. It is as we used to say in the military, “No big thing”. We are just as dead via heart attack, or bullet, or bomb. The first one somehow is acceptable, the latter two some think preventable.

    I am just glad that he didnt have a micro-wmd for the obvious reasons. I think though that if everyone had been carrying a weapon in that room and he had pulled a gun, one or more would have gotten him.

  68. #68 SoupDave
    April 17, 2007

    9 years ago when I was a student, I toted a 45 for this very reason. Nobody ever knew I had it, however if I were ever trapped in a classroom by a gun-waving idiot the headline would have read “one dead in school shooting”. The dead guy would be the misguided idiot who tried to commandeer my classroom.

  69. #69 SoupDave
    April 17, 2007

    by the way my fellow liberals: guns in fact dont kill people, people do the killing.

  70. #70 Markk
    April 17, 2007

    Ugh that is horrible. Reminds me of the shooting in a lecture theatre at Monash University here in Melbourne a few years ago, in which two people were killed. My sister was on campus, but thankfully never in danger.

    31 dead! What an absolute shocker.

    My condolences to the families and friends of the victims.

  71. #71 andyo
    April 17, 2007

    by the way my fellow liberals: guns in fact dont kill people, people do the killing.

    So maybe we shouldn’t put people and guns together? That may be a stupid comeback but it fits nicely to it. Which means that phrase is also stupid. I’m not about to state my position on this matter in such a thread as this, but I’m just saying that that old saying is not an argument. It’s just a talking point.

  72. #72 Kevembuangga
    April 17, 2007

    Just STFU and show some class.

    Yeah! And what “showing some class” will do?
    This is monkey emotionality at its “best”!
    Mourning and “showing class” is certainly appropriate for the relatives of the dead and wounded and perhaps the local population, but WTF does Bush, the media and the average soccer mom elsewhere have to do with this?
    Rotting social fabric…
    I am not American nor even resident, get your shit together and don’t poison the whole world with your madness.

  73. #73 Kevembuangga
    April 17, 2007

    No. What needs attention is whatever is in our poor power to do in order to comfort the friends and loved ones of those who were murdered.

    — ibidem —

  74. #74 Kevembuangga
    April 17, 2007

    guns in fact dont kill people, people do the killing.

    Of course, gun wielding people do the killing.
    It is much harder for non gun wielding people they have to resort to clubs, stones, carrying propane bombs, biting?

  75. #75 NC Paul
    April 17, 2007

    Well, if people kill people (using guns as often as not, in the US at least), then why not make gun ownership conditional on a psychiatric evaluation?

    Sure, you can own a gun – if you can prove you’re a responsible person and not a danger to yourself and others.

    At the very least, put them on the level of car ownership and require mandatory training in their safe use and storage. They’re weapons, not off the shelf consumer items.

  76. #76 Nomen Nescio
    April 17, 2007

    So maybe we shouldn’t put people and guns together?

    maybe not.

    there was, mind you, a time when no person had access to any firearms — back before firearms were invented.

    that period in history isn’t commonly remarked upon for its peacefulness and egalitarianism.

    It is much harder for non gun wielding people they have to resort to clubs, stones, […]

    it’s also much harder for any of them that have to defend themselves against someone who does resort to a club or a stone.

    firearms really are equalizers, when it comes right down to it. and i’m a social egalitarian. so long as some people will abuse force, i don’t want to run even the risk of them acquiring disparate force, for fear of what force inequality will do in abusive hands; that means arming myself. (Orwell had a short essay on weapons and their democratic or anti-democratic natures; i largely agree with it. i think it was called “you and the atom bomb”; it’s worth googling up.)

  77. #77 Richard
    April 17, 2007

    It looks my brief post generated a reaction from some here. 🙂

    I think it pathetic how some would rush to take the deaths of 33 people as an OPPORTUNITY to make their point about how they don’t like Bush, even for things he didn’t say, or to make a sweeping judgement about US culture.

    I’m not saying those discussions don’t need to be had, but in rushing to do so before there is a clear picture of what happened, you belong in Debbie Schlussel’s camp.

  78. #78 slpage
    April 17, 2007

    What a horrid spectacle…

    Flicking around the chanels yesterday afternoon, I stopped by FOX news out of sheer morbid curiosity, only to hear John “War on Christmas” Gibson yammering on along with that judge with the ridiculous hairline about how if some of the students had been carrying concealed weapons, they could have stopped it from happening.
    How great would that have been – a couple of teenagers whipping out their Glocks and having a shoot out in a classroom. I’m sure only the ‘bad’ gunman would have been hurt…

    Those sleazy rightists can’t even let a tragedy go by without putting some idiotic right-wing spin on things.

  79. #79 Caledonian
    April 17, 2007

    then why not make gun ownership conditional on a psychiatric evaluation?

    Sure, you can own a gun – if you can prove you’re a responsible person and not a danger to yourself and others.

    Psychiatric evaluations cannot demonstrate that anyone is a “responsible person and not a danger to themselves and/or others”.

  80. #80 slpage
    April 17, 2007

    9 years ago when I was a student, I toted a 45 for this very reason. Nobody ever knew I had it, however if I were ever trapped in a classroom by a gun-waving idiot the headline would have read “one dead in school shooting”. The dead guy would be the misguided idiot who tried to commandeer my classroom.

    Yes, I am sure that is exactly what would have happened… After all, nobody gets scared or panics when these things happen, and things always go the way you see them in your dreams and fantasies…

  81. #81 NC Paul
    April 17, 2007

    @ Caledonian: Not being an ass about this, but would you care to explain?

    If they use the MMPI-2 for cops and airline pilots, why not people who want to purchase and own a lethal weapon?
    (Or are you objecting to use of the term psychiatric as opposed to psychological?)

  82. #82 Caledonian
    April 17, 2007

    I mean that neither psychiatry nor psychology have developed useful techniques for identifying who is actually a threat, and it is highly unlikely that one will be developed in the future.

    No one has any capacity for saying that a given person will nor will not commit a crime in any timeframe. The idea that we can is ludicrous.

  83. #83 ajay
    April 17, 2007

    “micro-wmd”?
    I think this site has developed a case of disputative thrombosis: some of the commenters are clots.

  84. #84 NC Paul
    April 17, 2007

    Ah – I see your point. I don’t think the purpose of this kind of tests is to predict anything, but to assign probabilities of harm occurring.

    In the same way a risk assessment in a workplace assigns probabilities of harm occurring and indicates where precautions can be taken, this kind of test could be used to assess the risk of someone causing harm with a firearm.

    Will it be 100% effective? Of course not. No test is and people will find cheats and workarounds, but it would keep guns out of the hands of some people who definitely should not be given charge of a firearm.

    And at the end of the day, if cops and airline pilots are subjected to this, why not for a gun owner? If you’re going to have a society where people can and do bear arms, I’d like to know that those bearing are, as best as we can tell, sound of mind.

  85. #85 Chris
    April 17, 2007

    there was, mind you, a time when no person had access to any firearms — back before firearms were invented.

    that period in history isn’t commonly remarked upon for its peacefulness and egalitarianism.

    True, but possibly misleading – there were a lot of other technological and sociological changes between those two time periods.

    Mind you, I think the availability of firearms that allowed any peasant to kill a knight might really have had something to do with those sociological changes. A gun is dangerous even in untrained hands and that took a lot of power out of the hands of professional warrior classes. But firearms are far from the only difference between the Dark Ages and today and since history is not a repeatable experiment, it’s hard to disentangle exactly how much influence they had on the overall lower level of violence today.

  86. #86 Kseniya
    April 17, 2007

    Micro-WMD = WLID

    Alcohol, tobacco, and firearms. Oh my.
    Alcohol, tobacco, and firearms. Oh my.
    Alcohol, tobacco, and firearms. Oh my!

    Why are these three items placed in a single administrative and regulatory cluster here in the United States? What a heavy toll on American society these three exact, despite their not being completely devoid of benefits to their users.

    I am not in favor of gutting the 2nd Amendment, but Houston, we have a problem.

    “Gun-wielding people kill people.” Exactly right. That is the simple truth pressed plainly between the rhetorical bookends of the gun-control issue. It is true that the pre-firearms world wasn’t safe or peaceful, but it was a different world then. It wasn’t very safe for the unarmed. Today’s world, at least where I live, is pretty darn safe for the unarmed. But completely safe? We all know the answer to that. Maybe the question is: is the world sufficiently different, now, to benefit from the eradication of firearms? I don’t know. And, as eradication is probably impossible anyway, the question is sadly moot.

    I grew up in an area where people don’t carry guns. Nobody has a gun rack on their pickup. Tombstone, it ain’t. But a little girl on her way home from school could still disappear, only later to be found raped and murdered. A teenage boy could still be fatally stabbed in the school hallway by a classmate. Neither possession nor non-possession of firearms has any effect whatsoever on those kinds of potentialities.

    But my friend’s cousin is still dead. Her friend is still dead. Her spurned, confused, and heavily armed boyfriend is still a double-murderer, and still dead. All those people in Virginia are still dead. All those kids from Littleton, Colorado are still dead. And the beat goes on.

    Knife me no knife, and club me no club. Guns are what made these massacres possible. Those who argue that killers will kill with whatever weapon they have at hand are correct to the limited extent that they can demonstrate that the killing would have occurred anyway (and I challenge anyone to demonstrate that in the case of Virginia or Columbine) but always neglect to account for one important aspect: gun-killing is procedurally and experientially different from blade-killing, blunt-killing, and hand-killing.

    A gun kills quickly and easily, and at a distance. A gun excuses the killer from having to get up close and personal in the most primal way imaginable, it enables him to avoid getting his hands all bloody, and liberates him from being forced to summon the sustainable visceral rage required to to crush a larynx, to plunge a blade repeatedly into warm flesh or beating heart, or to bring a blunt object smashing down again and again on an ultimately fragile skull. Arguments that ignore this difference in their attempt to prove that guns do not facilitate killing are self-serving and specious.

    Sure, sure – Guns suck, NRA rhetoric sucks, and a government that disarms its citizenry has the potential to suck worst of all. It’s a very knotty problem, ladies and gentlemen.

    A friend of mine wryly points out that the only reliable solution is to outlaw people.

    (I admit that even a heavily-armed citizenry, unless massively deployed and superbly organized, would have very little chance executing a successful revolt against a US Government that had the military on its side. So maybe the horse is way, way out of the barn on this, and the 2nd Amendment itself has become moot.)

  87. #87 Keith Douglas
    April 18, 2007

    [sigh]

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