Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Gun Control and Virginia Tech

To be clear, I'm strongly in favor of stringent gun controls, up to and including an outright ban.

If second amendment fans want to carry firearms they should either join the national guard or limit themselves to the sort of muskets known to our founding fathers (see, I'm all about original intent).

None the less, the tragedy at Virginia Tech provides little reason for such a ban.

And to re-iterate, I believe such a ban would be beneficial, I just also believe that the actions of a deranged individual are not the strongest arguments in favor of such limitations.

As any number of news reports are now making abundantly clear, the gunman, Cho Seung-Hui, was a very sick individual. And as seems equally obvious, the options for limiting the dangers such individuals pose are very few. The best, it seems to me, being early identification and better response to persons exhibiting signs of severe mental illness, including de-stigmatizing those who so suffer.

None-the-less, even the most progressive responses will be inadequate in some cases, and are we willing to lock up all this society's eccentrics on the off chance that one of them might go over the edge?

No, we must simply learn that one of the costs of living in a free society is a certain degree of insecurity.

And no society, even the most authoritarian, can entirely eliminate the threat posed by a madman.

True, guns are capable of inflicting massive damage with relatively little physical effort, one of the reasons I favor limiting their use to police and military. And true, if Cho's only available weapon had been a knife the amount of carnage would be considerably less.

But if his weapon of choice had been a drum of diesel fuel and some fertilizer, his car, something beyond my limited imagination?

In this case I have to agree with the pro-gun crowd. To paraphrase, and not to draw too fine a point about it, guns don't kill people, madmen do.

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