Gun-free zone at Virginia Tech

One of the things that gun control people avoid recognizing is that shooting sprees seem to take place where it is not legal for people with carry permits to carry guns.

A bill that would have given college students and employees the right to carry handguns on campus died last year with nary a shot being fired in the Virginia General Assembly.

House Bill 1572 didn’t get through the House Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety. It died Monday (Jan 30, 2006) in the subcommittee stage, the first of several hurdles bills must overcome before becoming laws.

The bill was proposed by Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah County, on behalf of the Virginia Citizens Defense League.

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."

Only law-abiding citizens obey gun control laws. This leaves them helpless in the face of insane homicidal behavior.

Concealed carry laws seem to be making a comeback. Perhaps it is a movement toward taking responsibility for one’s own security in an increasingly dangerous world.

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0 Responses to Gun-free zone at Virginia Tech

  1. Steve says:

    What possibly connects the insanity of shooting somewhat out of anger with the insanity of carrying loaded firearms to school? Regardless of one’s stand on control of firearms, there is simply no logical connection. There is, perhaps, a correlation, but I fail to see a cause and effect.

  2. Perhaps you could reread the first sentence again? Or Google “shooting sprees”.

    You might come up with this:

  3. Beth says:

    I am a creative woman, loving wife, grandmother, episcopalian, composting gardener, piano playing, gentle person who has been trained by the police in gun use and safety. My Lady Smith & Wesson lies discretely in a place known only to me, ready (albeit not willing) to provide protection to those I love, other innocents and myself, if and when (God help me never) that moment arrives and I can reach it quickly enough to make a difference.

  4. Zack says:

    Though if students were armed due to conceal carry laws how many would have been carrying their weapons in a 9 AM class?

    Of these how many would be hurt at parties or when drunk. How many would be shot during arguments? Lastly, how many would have been shot by the police when they came sweeping into the building after the attacks and saw a number of armed student.

    Even if the students pulled out guns at the first sounds of gunfire how would they react to seeing other students pulling out a gun? If they went to look for the shooter how many would be shot when passing by a similar room of armed individuals.

    There is potential for over-reaction and friendly fire. Hell arming people increases the chance that they will be hurt in a gun related accident.

    Arming more parties does not necessarily improve the situation. Thirty people died on a campus. That is nothing when compared to the 34000 murders committed each year by gun owners.

    # The majority of fatal accidents involving a firearm occur in the home.

    # Gunshot wounds are the single most common cause of death for women in the home, accounting for nearly half of all homicides and 42 percent of suicides.

    # An adolescent is twice as likely to commit suicide if a gun is kept in the home.

    # More teenage boys in America die from gunfire than from car accidents.

    (taken from

  5. Kristoff says:

    I always get a kick out of the “obvious solution” the pro-gun folks propose. ‘Arm the students’ they say.

    Anyone who knows anything about guns knows that unless one practices often, one’s aim —and therefore the effectiveness and safety of the firearm—becomes substandard. It doesn’t matter if one was trained by the Police, Army, or Boy Scouts. The hard, cold fact is that unless the students who packed were required to practice for no less than a few hours a week, they are little more than unskilled gun-owners running around campus. Who would want to go to school in a place like that?

    Zack’s comments are dead on. With the chaos of the situation, who would know what was going on, let alone be able to ascertain who was doing the shooting in time to stop it?

    Perhaps DSL needs to turn off the TeeVee. The Hollywood image of the gun-packin’ hero stopping the bad guy in his tracks with a well-placed burst from a .203, thereby saving the town, is nothing more than an NRA wet dream.

    This is a serious problem and it requires serious solutions. Getting so scared that the only ‘solutions’ one can offer defy the bounds of reason is not helpful.

    Oh, in light of the 104 people on average who die EVERY DAY (source: NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts, 2005) on the road due to automotive accidents, maybe we can keep things in their proper perspective.

  6. Why does it seem like Kristoff and Zack espouse the “line up like sheep” approach to handling threat situations.

    Both seem to conflate people with carry permits with kids who shoot themselves and drunks on campus. Confusing carry permits with “arming students” make perfect sense in the fevered minds of anti-gun people.

    From all the reports I have seen, only an elderly professor and a few students showed any resistance to the murderer. Perhaps the rest were waiting for someone in authority to show up and handle the situation.

    Carry permits give trained people the authority to protect themselves, and perhaps you, in situations like Virginia Tech. Those who earn that authority can handle life-threatening situations better than those who wait passively until help arrives.

    For those unwilling to get carry permits, a course in self-defense is strongly suggested.

    You either become part of the solution or you become a victim. The Nanny State, where all authority and force reside in the government is not a viable solution.

  7. Jane Chin says:

    I see this event as more of a mental health “systems failing” issue based on our current society’s inability to address mental illness problems than gun control.

    The reality is that when a person decides to kill as a means to an end (in that person’s mind), he or she will employ whatever means to do so.

    What I found abhorrent is the many early signs and flags that could have been addressed in this individual, but were not.

  8. Zack says:

    You are belittling our’s ideas instead of debating them based on merit. (e.g. “Line up like sheep”) Well let put out facts and let you try to justify your position in the fact of a reasoned and well researched argument.

    I will grant that I am mixing concealed carry and availability of guns, because the issue in many cities is the prevalence of guns.

    I do believe that people should be able to have guns in the home, but I am quite dubious about the protection carrying a gun gives once balanced against the fact that more guns are misused than are used for defense.

    You suggest that concealed permits would deter a suicidal murderer from going on a rampage. The fact that he shot himself after the rampage is a perfect retort for your argument. He was ready to die, violence did not deter him.

    Economist John Lott was the one who argued that right-to-carry laws deter crime by creating a perception that more potential crime victims might be carrying firearms.[Lott, Jr., John R., David B. Mustard (1997). “Crime, Deterrence, and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns”. Journal of Legal Studies 26(1): pp. 1-68. NCJ 174718.]

    Lott’s study has been criticized for not adequately controlling for other factors, including other state laws also enacted, such as Florida’s laws requiring background checks and waiting period for handgun buyers. When Lott’s data was re-analyzed by some researchers, the only statistically significant effect of concealed-carry laws found was an increase in assaults,[Black, Dan, Daniel Nagin (1998). “Do ‘Right to Carry’ Laws Reduce Violent Crime?”. Journal of Legal Studies 27(1): 209-219. NCJ 177169] with similar findings by Jens Ludwig. [Ludwig, Jens (1998). “Concealed-Gun-Carrying Laws and Violent Crime: Evidence from State Panel Data”. International Review of Law and Economics 18: 239-254]

    Meanwhile you leave unanswered our own argument that while a couple dozen people got killed in the rampage, introducing more guns will increase the number of people who get shot in their home or in domestic assault cases.

    A study of gun use in the 1990s, by David Hemenway at the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, found that criminal use of guns is far more common than self defense use of guns.[Hemenway, D., D. Azrael, M. Miller (2000). “Gun use in the United States: results from two national surveys”. Injury Prevention 6: pp. 263-267.]

    Between 1987 and 1990, David McDowall found that guns were used in defense during a crime incident 64,615 times annually. During the same time period, there were 46,319 gun homicides,[Uniform Crime Reports, 1987-1990. Federal Bureau of Investigation] and the National Crime Victimization Survey estimates that 2,628,532 nonfatal crimes involving guns occurred. [McDowall, David, Brian Wiersema (1994). “The Incidence of Defensive Firearm Use by US Crime Victims, 1987 through 1990”. American Journal of Public Health 84: pp. 1982-1984. PubMed.]

    Cross-sectional US studies using either Kleck’s preferred proxy (the percentage of suicide that use firearms) or actual survey measures of firearm ownership (the CDC sponsored such state surveys in 2001 and in 2002) find a large, positive statistically significant relationship between gun prevalence and homicide, suicide and unintentional firearm death.(Miller et al 2002c; Hepburn & Hemenway 2004; Hemenway 2004). (

    Introducing guns add potential lethality to every argument. It MAY help if you are attacked in the home, but chance you will have a gun available for defense when you need it is low compared to the chance that the gun may be used in an incident several years from now.

    You may have a defensible position, but only if it is an informed one. I have laid forth my argument. Where is yours?

  9. David:

    Let me offer some perspective based on experience:

    I have a concealed carry permit. Obtaining one in Virginia does not require any special training. It only requires a half-day course in gun safety and a relatively-clean criminal record. The safety course teaches one the basics of gun safety and includes some rudimentary training in marksmanship. It does not prepare one to face dangerous situations or prepare them for the time when they may face a life or death situation at the hands of someone wielding a weapon. I did not have to take the course because I have military training. However, I did take the course in prep for a story on concealed carry permits. As one with professional raining on the handling and use of firearms in dangerous situations I found it disturbingly lacking. Have you taken the course?

    Among those opposed to Del. Morgan Griffith’s ill-conceived bill to arm students and faculty on college campuses were all of the organizations representing sheriff’s, state police and municipal police. They recognize, as most trained professionals do, that arming students poses more actual dangers that offset any potential advantages. Have you talked with law enforcement personnel about their feelings? If not, you should.

    Have you ever faced someone who wanted to use a weapon to harm you? I have. Have you ever used a weapon to take a human life? I have. I can tell you from experience that the minimalist training offered for a concealed carry permit does not begin to train anyone for either eventuality.

    In four decades of journalism, I have covered too many occurrences of violence and witnessed too much death at the hands of those who thought carrying a gun could save them. I interviewed a store owner in Northern Virginia who killed two passersby and wounded another while chasing, and shooting at, a would-be robber. He’s in prison how. I talked with a father in Bozeman, Montana, who killed his daughter when he thought he was shooting at an intruder. He later took his own life.

    I have seen, first hand, the carnage that can occur when a private citizen with a gun tries to take the law into their own hands.

    I was at Tech on that horrible day. I interviewed, photographed and videotaped students, cops, first responders. I saw veteran police officers puke out their guts over what they saw. Yet not one of those would share your opinion that arming students was a viable way to stop such violence.

    I read your piece on Tuesday morning last week after too little sleep from that horrible day in Blacksburg. I waited a week to respond because my first reaction was so strong that it left me shaking with rage.

    My rage has subsided but my feeling that the article was ill-conceived and its recommendations irresponsible has not.

  10. Zack,

    Challenging your ideas is not belittling them.

    I deliberately used the “line up like sheep” example to bring out the fact that failing to train students to defend themselves or to allow students to defend themselves is setting them up for this kind of disaster.

    You are absolutely right that legally owned guns get used every day in domestic and accidental violence. What you didn’t emphasize was that guns were used for defense 40% more times than they were used for homicides. Using your own figures, I see that the 46,319 gun homicides would have exceeded 100,000 gun homicides if the defenders had not been armed.

    My concern is that lack of intelligent preparation will leave our schools, etc. open to further exploitation by unhinged gun toters.

    In a threat situation like a school shooting, there is no time to build a Flight 93 resolution and response. Flight 93 passengers were warned by cellphone calls what to expect if they failed to act. These students, for the most part, did not know what to expect.

    In my 4/24/07 article, I have located some interesting research on gun violence in the UK from the Home Office.

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