Shuck and Jive

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Can We Talk About Gun Control?

CNN reports that Cho Seung-Hi purchased one of his weapons recently.

Cho paid $571 for a 9 mm Glock 19 pistol just over a month ago, the owner of Roanoke Firearms told CNN Tuesday. He also used a .22-caliber Walther pistol in the attack, police said.

John Markell said Cho was very low-key when he purchased the Glock and 50 rounds of ammunition with a credit card in an "unremarkable" purchase.

Cho presented three forms of identification and did not say why he wanted the gun, Markell said.

State police conducted an instant background check that probably took about a minute, the store owner said. (read more)

Here is a video of a 9mm Glock 19 in action at full automatic. It can fire 15 rounds.

A semi-automatic, what Cho had, can fire 15 rounds as fast as you can pull the trigger 15 times--about six seconds.

He also fired a 22 caliber Walther pistol with a magazine capacity of seven rounds.

Cho, an English major, wrote a couple of plays you can read here. We can do a few things. We can say he was twisted, crazy, or demon-possessed. We could protect ourselves in that way. Yet, we need to ask: how many others have these "plays" in their psyches? The answer: more than you care to imagine.

Yes, he needed help.

The help he received was from his local gun shop. The gun shop owner is not at fault. He followed the law. In a side article entitled, Gun Control Unlikely to Get on Agenda Despite Shootings, CNN reports:

Is the Virginia Tech tragedy likely to put gun control on the political agenda? Don't bet on it. In recent years, gun control has been an issue most politicians prefer to stay away from....

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, issued a statement saying, "I believe this will re-ignite the dormant effort to pass common-sense gun regulations in this nation.''

But public anger is not usually sustained very long, whereas gun owners remember every gun control vote as a threat to their rights. Gun owners vote the issue. Supporters of gun control typically don't. So politicians believe they will pay a price at the polls if they support new guns laws, even when most voters agree with them. When it comes to public opinion, intensity matters. Not just numbers. (read more)

So what should we do? Load all of our college kids up with guns and hope the good guys get the draw? Maybe. Along with their dorm keys, copies of Nietzsche, credit cards, video games, and beer bongs, we could give all freshmen their very own 9mm Glock. School is hard. Shoot first and often.

Life is crazy. Adding easily accessible deadly weapons is crazier still.


  1. More attention on gun control is certainly needed,and we must not forget the severe cuts to mental health benefits passed under the Reagan regime. Most psychiatric professionals have the time and resources to do little more than jam a prescription into the hands of a would-be mass murderer. Add to that our culture of violence and Rambo mentality (ala George Bush), and we've got a nasty brew on our hands. Thank goodness tragedies such as Va. Tech are the exception in America. In Iraq, Darfur, you name your crisis, there are people who live with death and devastation every, single day. Let's keep hope alive that each of us can do something to make a difference somewhere.

  2. Very thoughtful, thank you.

    We have serious issues regarding mental health that are not being addressed.

    And yes, let us keep hope alive!

  3. Less guns might mean less gun deaths - it would be worth the experiment America.

  4. Society,

    What are the rules about guns in Canada? How easy it for example for you to purchase a 9mm Glock?

  5. Society,

    Less guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens sure worked for Washington, DC. But don't let the inconvenient facts get in the way of speaking "truth" to power. Especially when it gives you a chance to blame the American public rather than the disturbed and wicked individual actually responsible for this atrocity.

    Remember, folks, the Roman Empire preferred the Judeans to be unarmed!


  6. Thats right Chris. I agree completely with you on this one.

    Also, Make guns illegal and the criminals will still have guns.

    Now, if there should have been more of a reaction to the many complaints about the individual's "problems" that would have helped. Some investigation on those complaints might have lead to some questioning of his girlfriend and establishment of violent behavior. Possibly support her, (or someone he conflicted with) in a restraining order, and kick him out of school. Develop a record on this person and make sure the gun purchase background checks would catch these type records. There should be no "voluntary" type questions on the background check. It should only address things that can be backed up with records. If this takes a few days, I don't have a problem with it. But to ban guns? Are the criminals going to give up these guns? Are the meth heads in my town going to give up their guns? How am I supposed to defend my family from home invasions that do occur in my county without a gun? With love? Not at that point in a situation. The love has to be pre-emptive. Once the attack has occurred, you must defend yourself.

    I'm pleased with our state's legislature to consider allowing "concealed carry permitted" individuals on University/state properties. Imagine if a professor or staff member in that building had a gun. Or better yet imagine yourself huddled behind a blockaded door with an attacker on the other side of that door. Or better yet imagine yourself, in the room with the individual killing all those around you, if you could have been trained to legally carry a gun, you could at least tried to stop the killing.

    Yes it is a tuff world. It often does come down to kill or be killed. There's too many guns out there already to not have one. Would you want to be armed in Iraq?

    The US has already become this place. You can't change that, but you can protect yourself and those around you. Or at the least allow those whom wish to do the duty to protect you. A police man or woman is a trained individual with a gun, but they can't be everywhere when it counts. "Concealed Carry" individuals go through very specific training and carry a gun. They can help our campus's be more safe. I fully support the conceal carry permit addition in our state.

  7. Michael,

    That is very thoughtful. I think that proposal before the legislature deserves attention and conversation.

    I don't know what others think "gun control" means, but for me it isn't banning guns, but control and oversight.

    In my view, it should not be easy to get one. Extensive background checks and longer waiting periods I think should be part of this discussion.

    Thanks to all for your views. Discussion about this topic is an important one.

  8. cool John,
    I'm glad thats the way you see it.

  9. John,

    I'm with you to a point. We license people to drive and register their vehicles. We make certain they are competent and responsible (tests and insurance).

    The same can be true of gun ownership. The only legal difficulty I have with it is that bearing arms is a constitutionally protected right (like free speech, free assembly, and free practice of religion). Driving is not a right (it is a privilege). I'm normally not a stump speaker for "rights" (preferring to focus on our obligations, counter to the tide of entitlement in this country), but these are hills to die on. No earthly government has the right to silence its critics (though they aren't obliged to listen or to promote them). No earthly government has the right to dismiss peaceful assembly or disrupt religious observation (as long as there is no felonious activity).

    The more responsibilities we give to the government to keep us safe and civil towards one another, the worse off we are. Why? Because we abandon those inner constraints and impulses towards the good - cowering in fear, instead.

    Background checks seem sane. Waiting periods seem okay - so long as they are just long enough to let the steam off (something like 48-72 hours). But would you tolerate it if someone said you had to prove yourself competent in order to be *allowed* to speak freely? Or if you had to have a license and a three week waiting period before you could peacefully assemble and protest an immoral war on a public sidewalk?

    You got it right: We CAN talk about gun control!

  10. We live in a wonderful society, where the ownership of killing devices is considered a basic "right", while access to health care is not.

  11. Mystical,

    Don't forget that we also live in a country where killing instruments can be used on the most vulnerable of beings (unborn babies) because privacy is a "right."

    I agree - this is one messed up world...

  12. I hear ya, mystical seeker, I agree. I also agree that "control" is necessary when dealing with instruments intended to kill. We should make reasonable efforts to make sure guns aren’t going into the hands of imbalanced people, or people with any kind of history of violence or criminality. A week is not an unreasonable amount of time to ask people to wait before they can have a gun. Why rush the process? You generally don’t risk killing innocent people when you peaceably assemble on the sidewalk, so there is a difference there by the way.

    And also, why do some feel it is imperative that the government be involved in stopping abortions, but when it comes to getting involved in controlling guns, we hear this: “the more responsibilities we give to the government to keep us safe and civil towards one another, the worse off we are.”

  13. Rights is an interesting topic. What is a "right"?

    Beyond even a nation's understanding of "rights" what are some basic rights for all of life on Earth including human life?

    What are some basic human rights that are non-negotiable. That is, rights which shall not be infringed? And, how do we decide what they are?

  14. Bobby,

    It's a shame that a librarian can't tell the difference between the government's responsibility to restrain evil in its citizens (through the making of just laws and the fair enforcement thereof) and the citizenry's responsibility to restrain governmental tyranny tyranny (through a free press, maintaining arms, assembling to be heard, etc.).

    There are already laws that require FBI background checks. If they aren't required in private transactions (such as at gun shows), then I'm not opposed to taking the steps necessary to make that happen. But the whole "mental illness" thing? Were you asked to provide a clinical evaluation of your sanity when you registered your two-ton killing machine (the one that only incidentally transports you back and forth to work)? I dunno...sounds like an invasion on my right to privacy.

    As far as the distinction you make between the right to bear arms and the right to peaceful assembly, you can go to the U S Constitution and see that it doesn't make a distinction. They are both protected rights of citizens. Neither assembling together nor owning a gun is a guarantee of harm. Some people gather together to become a violent mob. At that point, the government's responsibility is to restrain evil. If someone misuses their right to own a gun, the government has a responsibility to restrain the free exercise of that abuse.

    That's the point strict interpreters of the Constitution press: we want an end to abortion because it is the willful and premedited deprivation of another human's right to life. We want the gov't off of our guns because it is our right to have them (just as it our right to stay alive and to defend our life must not be infringed UNTIL an occasion of abuse triggers the gov't responsibility to restrain evil).


  15. Chris, you act these are hot button issues we’re talking about or something. I understand the second amendment issues, but there is room for interpretation. Indeed we have a responsibility to interpret the second amendment and all of our other “rights” responsibly. My comment about the mentally ill is not intended as a slight to them, but the fact is that there is a large population of mentally ill folks in our country; many of them are homeless. It’s another failure of society that we let people slip through the cracks as much as we do, but I certainly wouldn’t put a gun in the hands of a potentially violent transient schizophrenic for example. I do think any citizen in good standing that passes a background check shouldn’t be denied the “right” to purchase a gun, so that’s something. Sorry for being a little cheeky about the abortion comparison, I do respect your opinion there, but I still see inconsistencies in your thoughts and attitudes between the two issues, and maybe others, and I’m not saying I might not have my own inconsistencies. These are tough issues and can’t be reduced to quick slogans. As far as governmental tyranny, if you’re worried about that, you should be concerned more about the state of the free press than gun ownership.