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IN SELF DEFENCE…

By ATWadmin On April 18th, 2007

There has been a lot of discussion on the media and blogosphere concerning the massacre that took place at Virginia Tech a few days ago. One item that I highlighted here was the courage of 76 year old Holocaust survivor Professor Librescu who gave his life so that his students could escape the rampage of Cho Seung-hui. As you will recall that he blocked the entry to his class-room, but was shot in the head and body by the killer. This bought all the students in his class the precious time needed to make good their escape. The question I pose is this; Virginia Tech was a gun-free zone. It was illegal for students and faculty members to bring any guns onto campus. Problem is, Cho Seung-hui thought otherwise. Had faculty members such as Professor Librescu been permitted to carry weapons, do you think that this would have saved or cost more lives?

According to witnesses, Cho Seung-Hui, took his time and paused repeatedly for a minute or so to reload. In shootings at other schools, armed students or employees have restrained gunmen, possibly preventing additional murders. Four years ago at Appalachian Law School in Grundy, Va., a man who had killed the dean, a professor and a student was subdued by two students who ran to their cars and grabbed their guns. In 1997 an assistant principal at a public high school in Pearl, Miss., likewise retrieved a handgun from his car and used it to apprehend a student who had killed three people.

In other words, we have plenty of examples of where the lack of  "gun-free zones" have saved lives. No one suggests that one can entirely remove the likelihood of someone going on a killing rampage, but actively disarming the likely victims of such manic behaviour, as the State of Virginia has done, seems a delinquent approach to dealing with the problem. I ask again; If Professor Librescu had been armed would Seung-hui have been able to kill as many?  Your call.

54 Responses to “IN SELF DEFENCE…”

  1. In the long run it would mean more deaths.

    More guns mean more deaths. More than 30,000 people die in the US from gun injuries. Another 65,000 get injured. Now, I doubt there are 7,200 deaths in the UK each year from gun crimes. Nope, we’re far better off in our society.

    http://www.hno.harvard.edu/gazette/2000/09.28/firearms.html

  2. This is a good question, the fact is that you will never get rid of guns in the USA, So you are going to have to live with the fact that a lot of people own guns and probably 80% of owners are law abiding people. this leaves 20% who maybe of a dodgy nature. What the uni done was to give the mass killer a good head start, so i’d say as long as the students and teachers had the proper paperwork then they should have been allowed to carry guns.

    There would have still been deaths but probably not as many, also the scenario could have been that if the killer knew his victims may be carrying guns he might of thought twice before going on a rampage.

    By the way i’m from the UK so my ‘take’ on guns etc is a bit limited but it would be nice if we in the UK could defend ourselves.

  3. David: an interesting point. In regards to the particular incident, if everyone was armed to the teeth we would likely have seen less death on that day. Of course, we would have much more death daily from everyone having guns (road rage would have a new meaning). When I think of my college classmates, I recall many fondly, but few who I would wish to be packing. We had hoped the Dodge City mentality was past history. Are we going to arm all of our schools? Do we really want to live in a society where everyone carries a gun?

    I don’t know what gets over to your side about Virginia, but it is very lax when it comes to gun regulations. Indeed many of the guns used up here in Ny come from Virginia. They gunsellers in Virginia are so tone deaf they are continuing with a planned event that spoofs the NY city Mayor’s efforts to curb their guns making there way up to NY where they are used in crimes.

    I fully support the right of people to obtain hunting rifles and even handguns if they feel the need for protection. But the pro-gun lobby here resists all sensible regulation.

  4. If a Columbine-style massacre is going to become a yearly event in the USA, the pressure to allow guns in high schools and colleges will be irresistable.

    The benefit will be that would-be victims of madmen will have a chance to defend themselves. But the downside will be that there will be more shootings than ever because casual disagreements and rows will get out of hand as more and more have the option to resort to lethal force in the heat of the moment.

    I can’t believe that too many high school teachers or college lecturers would be in favour of pupils having guns in the classroom. But that’s the way it’s heading.

  5. Mahons: "But the pro-gun lobby here resists all sensible regulation."

    Huh? There is plenty of regulation, and law-abiding citizens are dutifully obeying it. It’s the criminal, and the psychos who could care less; no amount of regulation is going to make a difference.

    As long as evil exists we have a right to self-defense.

  6. The question is whether a man like Professor Librescu would have chosen to carry a gun had he been able to when he first took up his position. I very much doubt it.
    This then raises the question of who should carry firearms in a college or school classroom. Should the teacher be forced to do so? Should some students have the honour/obligation?
    I believe the vast majority of people do not want to live their lives with a gun in a holster and in a state of constant readiness for a shoot-out.
    The gun-deterrent argument won’t work, as the majority of people will choose not to carry guns even if they can. The shooting sprees in places like Texas prove this.
    If firearms were available, they would generally be carried only by those with a siege mentality of the kind that comment here and by the Chos of this world.

    I generally think pro-gun people are a bit too optimistic about human nature. The northern Troubles have shown those who still needed to be shown that there are some really dark individuals floating around, whose evil comes to the fore only when the circumstances are right. Indeed, the Bosnian war would suggest that something between one in five and half of all young men could kill innocent people without remorse if the situation was right for them.
    Do you really want to put firearms into the hands of so many potential psychopaths?

    The argument that a killer will get his hands on a weapon anyway also won’t wash. If Cho’s family had instead gone to Ireland, for example, with its tough gun laws, and all other things being equal, there is no way he would have been able to get a gun, and a Virginia-type tragedy would not have happened.

  7. Cunningham, going on the percentage of people with CCW permits in Virginia, there is a 67.52% chance that one of the people killed (excluding the gunman) had a permit. 21 people were injured, so there’s a 111.83% chance that one of the people who were shot had a permit.

    Of course, some people escaped without injury so it’s even higher.

  8. Just to avoid confusion: guns are banned from the campus. So although, statistically speaking, one of the people shot definitely did have a permit to carry a gun, they could not do so.

  9. If there is an insistence to a right to bear arms and these sorts of hatefests are going to be carried out in schools and universities on a near regular basis then maybe kids and teachers should all start wearing bullet proof vests and uni borders should be patrolled by regular small armies or at the very least CCTV and panic alarms, bolt doors so that the guy was trying to hold him back alone. Banks have better protection for their staff. Noone seemed to know what the hell was going on that day which seemed slightly ludicrous to me.

  10. David,

    By this logic (or maybe its extrapolation) Thomas Hamilton’s victims should also have been armed, which of course is ridiculous.

    Cho was mentally disturbed, and I’m afraid we can’t guard against this to the extent we’d like. If he’d known the students could shoot back he’d maybe have gone to a hospital or children’s playground. That’s the root of the problem: we don’t know where a homicidal lunatic is going to strike, or how.

  11. Mahons: Despite 41 states allowing people to carry guns, to date there has been one (1) case in which a permit holder has shot someone following a traffic accident. He was attacked by the other driver and a jury ruled he acted in self-defence.

  12. Patty: I am curious. What gun control legislation do you support since you indicate there is plenty?

    No one is saying people don’t have a right to self defense. One of the ways we can achieve that is by regulating guns better.

  13. I’d also like to ask: does anyone know that date when it became illegal to carry guns on school/college grounds?

    Why is it that up until 1934, any child could walk into a hardware store and buy a machinegun (or order one on credit via a catalouge) yet there were no school shootings?

  14. How about no American civilians being allowed to have guns? Except for farmers and the like who need to deal with pests. If I was allowed to carry a gun to protect my property and person I’m concerned that I’d be all too ready to use it. The problem with guns is this: Homeowner buys a 9mm handgun, criminal then buys a Desert Eagle, homeowner then buys a double barrel shotgun, criminal then buys an Uzi and so on.

    Its called "escalation" and what you end up with is a nation full of people weilding very powerful military grade weapons. Anyone who claims that isn’t lunacy needs a lot of expensive medical care.

    If no one had access to guns then Cho Seung-hui would only have had access to a knife or an axe or somesuch guaranteeing his rampage wouldn’t have cost 30 odd lives. If you think otherwise you are wrong. 100% totally and utterly wrong.

  15. Cynical Lib: The proposal as I understand it is to arm everyone in the schools. I think that might skew even your stats.

  16. Mahons: Gun ownership should come with training – like operating a car.
    I would also would support "reform" which required extensive training for teachers or administrators who wished to own and operate guns.

    I don’t think alcoholics, or those who have impulse control and fast tempers should own guns. Nor would I recommend a gun to a sound sleeper married to someone who roams the house at night for fear they might kill their loved one accidently.

  17. Patty: Ok. We have some common ground. I won’t tell Monica if you won’t.

  18. Mahons said:

    "The proposal as I understand it is to arm everyone in the schools. I think that might skew even your stats."

    Sorry, I don’t understand. What proposal? Which stats? How?

  19. The proposal is that everyone at the schools be armed. I suggest that could be a problem.

  20. today hundreds of innocent iraqis are killed yet the silence from Mr Vance is deafening. But they werent white or christian or american i suppose

  21. Here comes our daily troll,folks! Rather than ban him, I now commend him as a great example of what can happen to the human mind if left untutored. Ladies and Gentlemen, I proudly present …drum roll – Observer!!!

  22. so david, no mention of the hundreds murdered then. Why not? is it because theyre not white, or what?

  23. Readers,

    Whilst it is cool that we have our own tame troll, I respectfully suggest that you do not feed him with any comments. Thanks.

  24. Can we take photos?

  25. CL,

    LOL – he doesn’t bite – no teeth, no spine.Just don’t talk!!!!

  26. totally amazing how this site and those who contribute only recognize the deaths of amercian youths as being newsworthy

  27. 8.40pm , over 1 and ahalf hours after i raised the subject did david create a post on it – what time did the bombing occur?

    maybe he has some sort of conscience , but i doubt it

  28. Steve

    "By the way i’m from the UK so my ‘take’ on guns etc is a bit limited but it would be nice if we in the UK could defend ourselves."

    You can. The Bill of Rights guarantees your right to be armed, which you can be with a shotgun or rifle. Feeble Parliament can legislate all it likes, but it has no moral right to say you cannot defend yourself. And as a righteous man once said, it’s better to be judged by 12 men than carried by 6.

  29. Odserver – knock yourself off and I promise to comment on it (favorably).

  30. Pete Moore

    You have mentioned this Bill of Rights before as though it trumps subsequent Parliamentary legislation; it doesn’t. We don’t have a statutory constitutional set up in the UK like the US . No Act of Parliament has a superior status which cannot be amended by another Parliamentary Act. . Any legislation after the Bill of Rights which contradicts anything in that law supercedes it and that is the case with all legislation.

  31. Colm,

    The Bill of Rights is not an act of Parliament. It is the very document which gives Parliament the power it has. Parliament has no legal power to repeal the Bill of Rights or any portion thereof. This was confirmed by a judge only last year I believe.

    The Bill of Rights in fact has MORE standing than the US Bill of Rights because the US version can be amended. Ours cannot.

  32. CL

    I didn’t say the Bill of Rights was an Act of Parliament but I do concede that it could have been confered form my comment that I was implying it was. However I maintain that the UK system has Parliamentary legislation as absolute. Providing it goes through the correct Parliamentary stages and recieves Sovereign assent our legislators can enact whatever they want . The Bill of Rights is an act of historical reference and framework and only remains lawful in so far as Parliament permits it, and if a jusge did say otherwise then he is wrong.

  33. Truely, Americans are from Venus, Europeans are from Mars.

    How is it possible for someone to think that more guns is the solution – especially in a country where 100,000 are shot, and 30,000 are killed per year?!?

    Why not go a stage further. Why not implant a bomb inside every US citizen, so if anybody becomes violent anyone can press a button and activate the bomb inside anyone else?

  34. SMCGIFF: Plant a bomb inside every US Citizen. We call that Taco Bell.

  35. Perhaps I have a useful insight here as someone who has lived in the US now for >10 years… Americans don’t think like Europeans.

    🙂

    Really. As I see it, Europeans think no life is worth losing. Americans think that overall liberty is more important than individual life. This is the way Europeans used to think >50 years ago. To an American, it is most unfortunate that those 32 or so died, but it is MORE important that the populace have guns in case the government should try to remove freedoms by force. In America, the government would fail and the people would win. Americans think this is more important than individual lives. Now there are a lot of gun deaths here, I’m not pretending otherwise. But the opinion around here is that anyone who deliberately or accidentally kills someone with a gun is a criminal (in most cases, see Dick Chaney for an example of an exception), and needs to be locked away or executed.

  36. Colm

    "The Bill of Rights is an act of historical reference and framework and only remains lawful in so far as Parliament permits it, and if a jusge did say otherwise then he is wrong."

    Rubbish. The Bill of Rights is merely a statutory statement of the Declaration of Rights, a contract between Sovereign and Subjects. Parliament is inferior to it, it is not a creature of Parliament, Parliament may not alter or repeal it. As for the Bill itself, Lord Justice Laws (Sunderland CC vs Thoburn) clarified that the Bill of Rights itself is superior to ordinary statutes and supercedes them.

  37. Quite right, Mr. Moore.

    Mark, as a (British) no compromise supporter of the right to arms, I can say a couple of things.

    Firstly, that I believe that gun ownership reduce crime. The 32 people killed in Virginia Tech were not a price we have to pay for the freedom to be armed. They were partially due to gun control (statistically speaking, at least one of those killed would have been carrying a gun if they hadn’t been on the university campus where they are banned) and partially due to the nature of humanity. Never will any ammount of gun control stop mass killings. Even if we could de-invent the firearm, there would still be mass killings.

    However, just suppose that somehow, disarming law abiding people actually made them safer. Would I support gun control then? No, because it requires violence against people have never been violent themselves. Because it facilitates tyranny and because it demeans us as human beings, it turns us into children, into pathetic, helpless creatures who rely on the state for our protection (and as the VT shootings proved, the state won’t actually protect you).

  38. Actually the love of guns proves Americans deep down want to be communists. Wasn’t it said that, God made man but Smith & Wesson made them equal! 🙂

  39. Mark,

    "To an American, it is most unfortunate that those 32 or so died, but it is MORE important that the populace have guns in case the government should try to remove freedoms by force."

    That was the original intent of the 2nd amendment, it may have made sense then, but does it make sense now?

    I mean, it’s not like the US govt balked at invading Iraq because they had a lot of weapons at home. Why should it be any different if that firepower were (for some reason) directed inward at its own people?

  40. "To an American, it is most unfortunate that those 32 or so [it was 33] died, but it is MORE important that the populace have guns in case the government should try to remove freedoms by force."

    Sounds like the Borg manifesto. Individuals do not matter. All that matters is the collective.

    The Americans have had independence and a functioning democracy for over two hundred years now – when are ye going to lose the insecurity? Besides, all the privately held guns in the US didn’t stop the position of head of state being taken in 2000. Guns are no match for lawyers! 🙂

  41. Frank O’Dwyer said:

    "I mean, it’s not like the US govt balked at invading Iraq because they had a lot of weapons at home."

    And it’s going reeeally well over there 😛

  42. You point out the downside of the American way of thinking. Their long-term point of view leads to many tragedies along the way.

    There’s the difference: European says the individual is more important. American says long term view is more important.

    Discuss, as Andrew would say.

  43. Mark,

    30,000 deaths and 65,000 other gun injuries a year is a lot to pay for "a long term view" or as I would put it, "appeasing an irrational insecurity".

  44. Irrational? How many CCTV cameras recorded your journey to work this morning?

  45. Governments don’t legislate for the individual. If they did heroin would be legal because to deny it would infringe somebody’s right to take it. They legislate for society, recognising that while some, even many, peole can carry guns and take heroin without it being a problem for themselves or others, there is a significant minority that cannot. Where freely available guns have an overall negative effect on society, it is incumbent on governments to restrict them, the same way they have done with heroin.

    Cynical Libertarian,

    If you’re going to make a statement that gun ownership reduces crime you’re going to have to include some evidence, because nobody’s buying that. The US has the highest level of gun crime in any Western country.

  46. Niall,

    Unfortunately there are few cases where gun laws have been made repealed or loosened. One such case is when Floridians were given the right to carry guns in 1987. Between 1987 and 1996 the homicide rate fell by 35%, the firearm homicide rate fell by 37% and the handgun homicide rate fell by 41%.

    I don’t believe any gun ban has ever been followed by a reduction in gun crime.

    For instance, in the same nine year period following the total ban on handguns in the UK (along with tightening of other controls), handgun crime doubled.

  47. Niall

    Switzerland has a higher level of gun ownership than the US. Every Swiss home contains arms and ammunition. The level of gun crime in Switzerland is statistically insignificant.

    Potential criminals in Switzerland know this, and it acts as a great dissuader.

  48. Pete Moore,
    Switzerland is Switzerland and the US is the US. No one here is talking about gun control for remote rural areas. We’re talking about cities and universities where there are things like poverty, depression, psychopaths and stuff like that.

    If you find any case of psychopaths who buy guns legally in Switzerland, do let me know. And if there aren’t any psychopaths in Switzerland I’d like to know the reason for that as well.

  49. Niall

    "Switzerland has a higher level of gun ownership than the US. Every Swiss home contains arms and ammunition. The level of gun crime in Switzerland is statistically insignificant.

    Potential criminals in Switzerland know this, and it acts as a great dissuader."

    Pete,
    If in every other way Switzerland was like the US this statistic would be significant. Obviously Switzerland has addressed its crime issues through other measures, or simply does not have a significant one to begin with.

    This cannot be said of the US. It certainly could not be said it does not have a gun crime problem, When people point to Switzerland and use it to justify the right to bear arms, they fail to address why the US, with the same gun rights, is so utterly different in terms of crime statistics.

    If we accept that the situations in Switzerland and the US are radically different, as I think you will, then whatever laws Switzerland has in place is irrelevant.

    Justifying the right to bear arms in America by looking at Switzerland is like putting a square peg in a round hole.

    You can just as easily justify gun control in the US by looking at many more countries.

    The question is: ‘What can the Americans do about gun crime in the US?’

    Given that the US government seems short on any other suggestions to reduce gun crime, gun control seems the only sensible new approach worth taking. If the Swiss have invented some other magic formula that nobody knows about, then George Bush should head over there on a fact-finding trip.

  50. But gun control is not a new approach. It’s been tried, and gun crime has risen in those states.

    Perhaps the Swiss magic formula is a higher rate of gun ownership?

  51. >>The Bill of Rights in fact has MORE standing than the US Bill of Rights because the US version can be amended. Ours cannot.<<

    >>Declaration of Rights, a contract between Sovereign and Subjects. Parliament is inferior to it, it is not a creature of Parliament, Parliament may not alter or repeal it. As for the Bill itself, Lord Justice Laws (Sunderland CC vs Thoburn) clarified that the Bill of Rights itself is superior to ordinary statutes and supercedes them.<<

    If this is the case, then Britons are the most unfree people in Europe. Even if every one of them wished to set up a new constitutional system, they are seemingly prevented from doing so by some document written by someone centuries ago that nobody ever voted for.

    >>Every Swiss home contains arms and ammunition. ..
    Potential criminals in Switzerland know this, and it acts as a great dissuader.<<

    Nonsense, there are very tough laws in Switzerland prohibiting the bearing of arms in public places. Any criminal would have ample opportunity for the crime of his choice without fear of return fire.
    The fact that the street crime rate is still so low suggests that the presence of guns in homes is irrelevant.

  52. Canada has less guns and less crimes
    US more guns and more crime

    atleast these 2 have a more comparable sytems, we have a shared history and a shared geography. Canada just got luckier because when england was busy exporting its criminals and but jobs to the USA we were still owned by the french

  53. Cunningham said:

    "If this is the case, then Britons are the most unfree people in Europe. Even if every one of them wished to set up a new constitutional system, they are seemingly prevented from doing so by some document written by someone centuries ago that nobody ever voted for."

    I think we disagree on the definition of freedom here (not that I’m suggesting Britons are actually free), but your second sentence is correct.

    Niall said:

    "If we accept that the situations in Switzerland and the US are radically different, as I think you will, then whatever laws Switzerland has in place is irrelevant."

    This is true. The problem is that gun control supporters constantly give examples of countries with more gun control and less gun crime or fewer murders or whatever. However, there’s no correlation. Switzerland is one example. Another would be Japan and Columbia. Identical gun laws but whilst the latter is the most murderous nation on earth, the former is the least.

    However, by accepting this we must accept that gun availability is not the only factor at play. It is possible to have strict gun control and lots of murders, and also to have lots of gun ownership but few murders. Surely we wouldn’t want to infringe upon people’s freedoms so it would be better to try and change other things which don’t involve banning private property.

    Sean said:

    "Canada has less guns and less crimes
    US more guns and more crime"

    Firstly, whilst Canada does have a lower murder rate than the U.S. (1.9 vs. 5.5 in 2004), the rates of all other violent crimes are significantly higher in Canada. In the US in 2005, there were approximately 471 violent crimes per 100,000 people. In Canada, there were 943 per 100,000. That’s twice the US violent crime rate. So you’re actually much more likely to be violently attacked in Canada than in the US.

    Ok, so the difference in the murder rates is bigger than the difference in violent crime rate. But why? 1.97% of Canadians are black.12.3% of Americans are black. Why is this relevent? In the USA, the black homicide rate is a staggering 18.1 per 100,000 whilst the white murder rate is just 1.9 per 100,000…slightly less than Canada. In fact, if you even out the percentages of blacks and whites in the two countries, the murder rates would be about identical. This all in the knowledge that gun ownership is way higher amongst whites than blacks.

    Just one demographic difference that demonstrates that the murder rates are not comparable.

    Note: I hope I don’t need to say that I’m not suggesting black people are genetically more likely to murder or anything like that.

    Secondly, the USA has more of just about everything. Why arn’t cars or running shoes (which are used in most crimes) not to blame?

    And thirdly, what has been Canada’s crime rate historically? Does Canada have higher or lower gun crime now than it did before gun control? If, as I suspect, Canada has ALWAYS had a low rate of gun crime, how can a continued low level (if indeed it hasn’t risen which may well not be the case) be attributed to gun control?

    People often say "the UK has low gun crime and strict gun control so gun control must work". But the truth is that Britain has ALWAYS had low gun crime, and it’s actually risen (by staggering amounts) since gun control was introduced.

  54. "Surely we wouldn’t want to infringe upon people’s freedoms so it would be better to try and change other things which don’t involve banning private property."

    I’m all ears for what you suggest, but if there is no other alternative, then shouldn’t the option of banning or curtailing gun ownership be given a try?