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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Why?

Like most Americans, I have been following the news about the shootings at Virginia Tech. I don't know anyone who attends Virginia Tech so I am not personally affected by this particular incident. Still, it scares the heck out of me because there is nothing unique about Virginia Tech that would make it more likely for this kind of carnage to occur. It could be University of Any State, or Small Town High, as we all know. I can't really think to myself "It won't happen to me", because while unlikely, it could. In fact, it has happened in my home town, but at the Post Office, not at a school.

What is this "It"? We as Americans really need to get a handle on what "It" is, because "It" appears far too often for us to pass off as an anomaly. Is it the guns? Even though I am not a big fan of guns, I really don't think we can put the blame on them. Should we blame the parents? That's another easy option, but so far I haven't read anything about the boy's parents that I could point a finger at and say "If they had done XYZ, this would never have happened".

The parents were Korean immigrants who most likely were working their rear-ends off to try to provide their son with a better life. I suspect they were strict and expected their son to work hard, go to college and make something of himself; at least that has usually been the case amongst recent immigrant families I have known. They missed the fact that their son was seriously disturbed, or maybe they didn't but didn't have the knowledge or tools to do something about it. Why would they, we as a society don't either. I know it was not that they didn't care. (I have heard that they committed suicide, or attempted it, which isn't really surprising given the magnitude of this tragedy. - Apparently this has appeared in Korean newspapers, but I do not know this to be fact.)

The fact remains that this kid was seriously sick in the head, and many people were aware of it. Sure, he might have been an evil person, but I don't think that is all there is to it. You can be evil till the cows come home and still have enough sense to not buy a gun and shoot 32 people over some stupid unrequited love situation. An evil person would try to get away with it, this kid shot himself. He was mentally ill, and needed to be in treatment, at a hospital, where he should have stayed until he was better.

We need to think about what "mentally ill" means. It means your brain is sick and is not functioning right. It can't be expected to carry out its normal functions properly, just as you can't expect the body to produce insulin (a normal function) when it has diabetes. Telling this kid to get counseling is like expecting a quadriplegic to exercise more to increase muscle strength. It isn't going to happen without help.

I also think that nobody should be able to buy a firearm unless they have two "sponsors". By this I mean that the purchaser must show that two different people have knowledge that they are buying a weapon. These two people will fill out a form that describes how they know the person, and whether there is any reason they feel said person should NOT have a gun. Yes it is an inconvenience, but I think Cho Seung-Hui would've had a hard time finding those two people.

RH

12 comments:

Jonathan said...

I like your "sponsors" idea regarding gun control--an excellent example of lateral thinking.

Live without guns said...

But why do people need to have guns? The world would be better off without them.

Bath Body Junky said...

I can not stop thinking about the VA Tech situation. Its such a scary world that we live in.

Retro Housewife said...

Personally, I don't like guns and would never have one in the house. I wish they weren't so easy to get, and I wish everything automatic was completely banned. But it's not up to me. The US Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms, and I respect the Constitution. However, we also have the right of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. IMO, handing over guns to whack jobs and wing nuts deprives other people of their rights. So, that's why I suggested the sponsor approach. You would have to be a real moron to sponsor somebody you don't know, and if you were aware that your buddy is just about to go off the deep end, you may include that in your (confidential) sponsorship form. How many people were aware that Cho was LOOOOONEY? People were dropping classes that he was in because he scared them!

In the end, only our friends and family really have any knowledge of who we are. They will be the ones affected if we lose it, so maybe they should have a say. Government can't do everything for us!

RH

C's Correction said...

It is so sad to hear of the shooting at Virginia Tech. Being from the UK I've only just heard of it.

I am like you RH, I don't like guns or believe that they can in anyway solve societal problems – they only add to them.

I am also a strong believer in being a stay at home parent. I believe it is important to provide the loving harmony and domestic bliss that a tired working mother just wouldn't be able to provide. The money that two incomes bring can't buy the essentials - and that is, well brought up children. Although not every family would have the luxury of staying at home, if they in anyway can they should do so.

Best,
~C~

Mrs. Huckabay said...

A respectful dissent here. Blaming guns for the death of these students is like blaming your pencil for a misspelled word. I don't have a personal love for guns, but my husband does, and we have many guns in our home. They are all kept unloaded and locked up in a gun safe with a combination so the children and anyone who might break into our home could not get to them. They are used for hunting, which provides our family with good quality, hormone free meat and poultry year round. They are used for protection, both of our home and our person. My husband has a concealed carry permit, which means he can carry his handgun on his person legally anywhere except schools and courthouses. He buys all his guns legally and goes through an hour's worth of paperwork and background checks before he purchases a firearm.

Having a sponsorship law won't stop crazy or bad people from getting guns. It's not the law-abiding citizens you have to worry about. They will continue to obey whatever laws are in place to purchase their guns legally. It's the criminals or the mentally ill we should be concerned with, and they will find a way to get a gun no matter what laws are in place. A person sick enough to plan and murder that many people isn't going to be stopped by not having enough sponsors to buy a gun...he's just going to buy it from a private person or steal it.

The cold hard truth is this: the bad guys out there aren't going to turn in or register their guns. They aren't going to obey gun laws. They are going to get their guns any way they can, while law-abiding citizens' hands are tied because of gun laws. We should be able to defend ourselves and others from people like this, and getting rid of or making guns harder to get for good people won't make things any better.

Retro Housewife said...

Forgive me if I sound a bit harsh, but I do think a sponsor law would have helped in the Virginia Tech situation, or would in the future. Given the national media attention these shootings get, one would surely become curious as to what sort of idiot agreed to sponsor somebody who is so obviously insane. I think the prospect of a hundred or so reporters trying to track you down and camping outside your house would deter at least a few criminally minded, since the last thing a criminal wants is close inspection of their activities.

It would also cause regular folk to give serious consideration to whether they want to sponsor, say, one-eyed wacky joe in his attempt to acquire an arsenal of AK-47s to keep the demons out of his cabbage patch.

Owning a weapon carries a burden of responsibility, and an individual must also act responsibly with respect to society. I hear a lot about "freedoms", but never much about responsibility. What ever happened to "The Buck Stops Here?" All I ever see when something like this happens is the dust left from everybody scrambling to get out of the way of the blame. You want the freedom to own a gun? Then how about stepping up and owning the responsibility, acknowledging that there is an intolerable problem, and working to find real solutions instead of whining about how the poor gun is so misunderstood?
Somehow I think that is what the founding fathers would have done.

RH

Mrs. Huckabay said...

It's very true that a criminal or a mentally ill person about to go on a shooting rampage wouldn't want their personal life pried into, and a 'sponsor' may be hard to find in that situation. My point was that when a person has gotten to that point, that they are willing to break the law, risk death themselves, or life in prison, just to shoot another person, they are not going to stroll into a sporting goods store to purchase a firearm. They're going to either steal one, or 'acquire' their weapon off some guy in a back ally somewhere. Personally, I'm glad my husband can carry his gun legally almost everywhere he goes.

As I stated before, it's not the legal means of getting guns we need to worry about. It's the ones who will get one by any means necessary.

Retro Housewife said...

First, may I say that I really like the name "Mrs. Huckabay".

I agree with you that criminals will commit criminal acts, but if one follows your logic, we should do away with all laws, since criminals will still break them.

I am not advocating forbidding guns altogether. As I said before, it is written in our Constitution, and I don't have to want to own a gun myself to respect the right of others to do so. My point is merely that purchasing a gun shouldn't be something you do on a whim and a fancy. If your husband is a responsible person, knows how to shoot straight and can keep his wits about him, then he is somebody who gets to have one.

But you also have to realize that there are some people who shouldn't have one and who cannot be trusted to handle a gun with the caution a a deadly weapon demands.

Requiring sponsors just puts a few more people in the loop who may have insight into the motives of the gun purchaser. They also have a personal stake in not taking a sponsorship lightly, because if the person they sponsor goes on a rampage, they can expect the public and media to be looking at them rather closely.

Jonathan said...

mrs. huckabay, your argument ie. "Blaming guns for the death of these students is like blaming your pencil for a misspelled word" is a terrible argument that belongs only on bumperstickers slapped to the side of a truck with the confederate flag proudly displayed.

If you take the logic of your analogy to its most extreme logical end, then it should be okay that people own atomic weapons, so long as they keep them unfueled in their basements and properly sealed behind lead-lined walls.

The fact of the matter is that new technologies (like firearms and weaponry, for instance) require different laws to regulate them. If you'll remember, there were no automatic weapons when the constitution was written. Try going on a 30 person killing spree with a black powder musket and you'll understand why our forefathers didn't have the foresight to better explain that the right to bear arms is meant for state militias--like your state guard units and their armories.

Some people say that the government is trying to disarm Americans and finally strip them of all their rights in some sort of civil coup. It may be the case that the government has already done this by barring state militias and taking control of our state guardsmen by making them part of a larger federal military. I believe it was understood that small state militias would be less inclined to join the federal army in forming a military dictatorship, which is why the constitution guarantees that local militias may arm themselves.

Well, to this you might say that since these militias no longer exist (or are run by lunatics in their present form) it is up to each American to arm and defend themselves. The problem is, the weapons we are defending and arming ourselves with are not meant to stop a single intruder but to fight wars.

Imagine the terror people felt when the first gattling guns were rolled out onto the battlefield and deployed. What happened? Military tactics had to change. We didn't line up our soldiers like ducks anymore. We hid them, gave them cover, and body armor, and automatic weapons of their own. Now our senators and congress people are being asked to change tactics to save Americans from themselves. Incidents like the massacre at VA Tech prove that individuals, no matter who they are, cannot be trusted with a "tool" that was designed to kill 10, 11, 12, 30 people with a single loaded clip.

If we don't trust other countries with nuclear weapons, why should we trust the next door neighbor's children with automatic pistols and rifles?

I don't mind shotguns. It's actually quite difficult to kill someone with a shotgun if you're not using the right ammunition. I don't mind hunting rifles either. You might take out a couple of people from a very long distance, but at least the people who haven't been shot will have time to find cover or get away between reloads.

You must consider the fact that none of these school shootings would have been possible without automatic pistols, automatic rifles, or even semi-automatic weapons--not on such a scale of 30+ deaths.

So, please, don't ever use that argument again; it doesn't complement your ability to form a complete sentence.

Jonathan said...

Oh, and lateral thinking is just the ability to think outside of the box, rather than push a dated argument back and forth like we're doing here. I kind of like your sponsors idea, even for hunting weapons. I know a lot of hunters who would probably agree with you.

Anonymous said...

Why does the American constitution override what you know to be true. If the constitution says you can bear arms then it must be right??? I am sorry I don't understand. It is clearly wrong. Better social welfare, a much better and freely accessible education system and free quality health care will improve America. The world watches while America spirals down instead of lifting itself up. Stop spending billions on going to war when you don't need to and clean up your country. Ban guns, look after your environment and most of all look after your people. Otherwise you are headed for many more of these incidents and a massive social and economic collapse. The enemy of America is conservatism and the every man for himself approach to social and health policy. The world is watching while America slowly self destructs. Such a shame.