In light of the tragedy at Virginia Tech last week, it might come as a shock to some people that many of their fellow citizens are calling for more guns in the hands of college students. Only this time, they want them in the hands of the law abiding folks who go out of their way to study and practice safe and responsible firearms use before picking up their license to carry a gun and their God-given right to self defense.
As many look to place blame on security decisions to not close the campus with a gunman on the loose, the failure of the mental health system to recognize that a suicidal student with a history of stalking shouldn’t have been on campus, or even, in a few cases, on victims who didn’t fight the gunman with their bare hands, it’s time to look at solutions.
Gun control laws were not the solution, as proven by the extensive planning the killer undertook. Had he not been able to purchase the guns legally, he would have found them another way. “One a month” gun purchase laws proved useless. The court system opted not to exercise the option to commit him to a mental health facility, instead choosing outpatient treatment, a decision which kept the court order out of the FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
However, one lawfully armed professor or student could have stopped the tragedy. Bradford Wiles, a graduate student at Virginia Tech, made the argument last August that as a law abiding concealed carry license holder, he was left feeling completely helpless when another armed gunman made his way to campus. In his commentary, he also noted the strange policy banning guns on campus by licensed folks that meant he could carry almost anywhere in Virginia, but “somehow, I become a threat to others when I cross from the town of Blacksburg onto Virginia Tech's campus.”
Imagine if a lawful concealed carry license holder had been in a Norris Hall classroom to stop the threat posed by the deranged killer. Imagine if instead of merely holding the door shut, heroic professor Liviu Librescu had a firearm with which to stop the shooter while more of his students escaped through the second story windows. More lawfully armed citizens might not deter the most crazed and depraved mass killers (unlike many other criminals), but they can put a stop to the threats they pose.
Look to the recent mall shooting in Utah and the armed off duty police officer who was also willing to ignore signs banning firearms in Trolley Square. Hero Kenneth Hammond distracted the shooter in a gun fight that took the killer’s sights off of innocent unarmed victims. Going back to Virginia, the Appalachian Law School shooting in 2002 ended when two students ran to their cars to retrieve their firearms and confronted the shooter. There are many more shootings stopped by lawful gun owners: just this weekend 82 year old Venus Ramey, who was Miss America 1944, held off an intruder with her handgun.
Lawmakers in at least one state have learned an important lesson in the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy. Two days after the events unfolded, a Tennessee House subcommittee approved a bill to repeal current law which forbids carrying guns on state, county and city governments owned property and buildings. The sponsor, Rep. Frank Niceley, was quoted as saying, "I think the recent Virginia disaster – or catastrophe or nightmare or whatever you want to call it – has woken up a lot of people to the need for having guns available to law-abiding citizens."
Rather than rely on police to clean up the massacre scene, perhaps the Virginia General Assembly will now recognize the rights of lawfully armed citizens to protect themselves and others. This should be a wake-up call to the liberal New Jersey legislature to pass a realistic right to carry law so the people of New jersey have the same rights as those in Pennsylvania, Florida and 35 other states where Americans are “permitted” self-protection.
I am a father of a daughter still in college. The first thing I did after hearing of this tragedy was to call my daughter to tell her I love her. I can’t imagine the pain of these parents that lost their children. There is no explanation for the shooters motivation and I don’t care how mentally ill he was. I know this: when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns and that will lead to more Virginia Tech style massacres, not less. The lesson from Virginia Tech: Gun Control Kills.