Ten years later….

April 20, 2009 at 4:02 pm (Politics) (, , , )

Courtesy of the Times, a few thoughts about gun control after Columbine.

I went to high school at the time, and got to go through the collective panic attack after the Columbine attacks (along with the rest of the nation, if not world).  Profiles of potential school shooters were distributed.  Plans were made in case it happened.  Security cameras were placed throughout the building.  Once, the school was evacuated, not because of bomb threats, not because of shooting threats, but because a student with a reputation for being an outsider was seen taking a backpack into the restroom (not me, but somebody I knew.)

And a zero tolerance policy was put into place.  Now, a lot of people already have realized how meaningless these are.  My school was even more fun – it was a zero tolerance policy, unless your knife was under two inches in length.  Nobody was particularly happy when I pointed out that an inch-and-a-half penknife was more than enough to kill somebody with, or that our new plans (supposedly approved by the FBI) were largely useless.

And, moreover, none of these things got to the real heart of the matter.  Nor have any of the other solutions adoped after similar shootings.  The people in the article I linked to at the top are right about that.  But they’re wrong about how to actually get at the heart of it.

You see, if you’ve got somebody who’s sufficiently set on killing people, they’re going to find a way.  Ask the guys in Akihabara how much good Japan’s much-vaunted gun control laws did them.  Or maybe ask the people who took the Tokyo subway on March 20, 1995.  Ask yourself if Klebold and Harris would have stopped their massacre if they hadn’t been able to get guns… or if they’d have just used more homemade explosives. 

Of those attacks, only Columbine *might* have been stopped, and that’s questionable.  Virginia Tech might have been, but even that could be questioned – if somebody is dedicated to the idea of getting a gun and shooting dozens of people, are they really going to be stopped by the fact that the gun they’re using to commit mass murder is illegal, or being carried somewhere it isn’t allowed?

What *could* have stopped all of these attacks, with the exception of the subway attacks (carried out in a clandestine manner)?

Being armed.

If one person at Virginia Tech had been armed and willing to shoot to kill, the death toll could have been 1, not 32.  The death toll at Columbine could have been 2.  Akihabara, 1.

Some people have suggested that common gun ownership would lead to the high murder rates of the old west, but that’s more likely to be the perfect storm of widespread guns, sparse law enforcement, and rampant drunkenness.  Now, which of those three *can’t* be argued as having justifiable purposes?

What’s more, the stats don’t really argue in favor of it.  Switzerland has mandatory gun training and practically mandatory ownership – and their collossal gun-violence rate of 34 deaths in the course of a year (for the entire country) has spurred gun control advocates to lobby for the end of this policy.  Kennesaw, GA has extremely widespread gun ownership, and its crime rates dropped – they have one of the lowest in the entire Atlanta metro area.

Personally, I think it’s a good thing that it’s easier to get a gun now than it was when the Columbine attacks had happened.  Maybe, if somebody had been armed, 12 students and teachers wouldn’t have died at the hands of two depressive psychopaths with a taste for violence and the resources to make their own explosives, let alone access to guns.


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