4.16.2007

Horrible news from the US: School shootings claim 33 lives.

I just heard: at least 33 people are dead after a shooter attacked students at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg. CBC and the BBC have good coverage at the moment.

I won't pounce on this with theory, but I will say the American media will be all over this event for a very long time. Both the conservative and liberal factions will duke it out in the public sphere once again, over everything from violent media to gun control to public safety.

And, although we're living in Europe, we were born and raised neighbouring the US (Lisa: We're not immune from this sort of thing, either). Our condolences go out to the victims and their families.

Take care.

45 comments:

Maja said...

I've just read about it on internet...my God, that's horrible! I'm shocked. I'm trying to imagine how painful it must be for the family members...

Jay said...

Maja: I know, I can't stop thinking about the victims' families.

From what I've heard, both medical and counseling services were on top of the situation.

This will take a long time to heal, however, both physically and emotionally.

pengovsky said...

I still don't know what to think about it... On one hand I feel so sorry for all the people who have lost their loved ones. I know what it is like to have someone die on you, so I can somewhat imagine the stress of people who witnessed it and survived.

But on the other hand I just can't help but to (again) ask aloud: why do they let these things happen? I know all about the Second amendment and "guns-don't-kill-people.-people-with-guns-kill-people" mantra.... But.... I just don't get it...

Lisa said...

It is incomprehensible. The worst is the sensationalist way the media reports on the story, which greatly increases the likelyhood of copycat actions in the coming days.

There are guns and then there are guns. Why the 2nd amendment is considered to give a constitutional right to bear semi-automatic assault rifles is so beyond me. There is no use for those things except killing other humans.

I read a pretty interesting book called the 'Gift of Fear', which has a section on disgruntled employees and how to tune in to people who are likely to snap violently. There are usually a lot of people with "bad feelings" or fear about the murderer in the days leading up to the deadly event, it's actually pretty rare that these things just happen "out of the blue".

I don't know what the answers to this sort of thing are, but at the very least there are some basic public safety things that need to be done. The fact that there was a two hour window between the killing of two people and the killing of the other 30...and yet the campus had not been evacuated or classes cancelled! From what I understand the uni sent an email warning people to not go to their classes. An email!!! Maybe having a plan for this type of thing, and simple things like classroom doors that lock would be a start. I know that the college I teach at in the fall doesn't have locks on the doors. I don't even know what I would do if something like this happened while I was teaching.

Michael said...

@lisa - totally agree with the comments on the media. It's sickening how they sensationalize everything...unfortunately that's the US media these days, they're all about "ratings" instead of just getting the facts out.

@peng - actually the original saying goes "guns don't kill people, people kill people"...and possibly to your dismay I tend to agree with this statement. (see my next paragraph, and the last for my view point)

The whole gun control debate IMO is ridiculous, even if you were able to ban the sale of all weapons in the US, the "bad" guys would still have them, it's like drugs...they are illegal but yet it's use is rampant and widespread in America. Some people might say well it's different because guns are bigger and harder to smuggle...please..they smuggle people across our sieve-like borders, guns wouldn't be anymore difficult. So in the end the only people who get punished are the ones using guns for legal purposes.

@lisa - assault rifles, yup like you said no big use for them, except people who just love guns, and collect them; I'm not sure if it's still legal to own assault rifles in the US anymore. At any rate in this incident the weapons were two pistols.

See IMO when these groups/media/politicians start going off about how guns are the cause or violent media like movies, video games they take away from what truly caused this man to kill these people. It's not like he stared at the gun and it started talking to him and said "let's go kill some people today". Something ticked this man off where he decided it's not worth living and before he goes he's taking some people with him. Besides even if there were no guns to speak of in America, this man could have took a knife and stabbed somebody to death, or made a bomb and strapped it to himself. In the end same result except you might have less/more people dead. In the end banishing guns doesn't solve the root of the problem! That's my 2 cents.

Michael said...

@lisa - Almost forgot to comment about the door locks. Most US universities have locks on all doors, although if somebody has a gun, it's not going to make much of a difference, it's easy to shoot out the lock rendering it useless.

My comment about the assault rifles, I hope you don't take that as being sarcastic, (after rereading it I thought it may be taken out of context) I was just trying to say the only reason I can think of for owning an assault rifle is people who have a passion for collecting guns.

pengovsky said...

I won't go into the gun control debate, since my knowledge on the issue is severely limited. But I see the whole thing through the prism of public safety:

Of course banishing guns won't cure the problem, but - yes - a knife would leave a lot less people dead. I'm sorry if I sound cold-hearted, but there are at least 32 families out there asking "why my kid", so I'd say that to some people it would matter a whole lot if this guy had a knife instead of a gun.

You mentioned a bomb - could very well be. But why didn't he make one in the first place? You can get a plan for a bomb on the net, afterall... I might have an answer (or at least a very good guess):

a)
Unlike a bomb, he didn't have to build a gun - he just bought it. Legally, I presume

b)
Gunshot is irevokable. He wanted to kill in the easiest way possible.

The point I'm trying to make is that you cannot (in all honesty) stop people from trying to kill other people. But you can (maybe even should) make it harder to do so.

Yes, guns and drugs are rampant. But if guns don't kill people, then drugs don't either? Hope you'll forgive a slightly demagogical approach here, but the fact that something is legal, does not neceserally mean it is inherently good. Basically, drugs and guns are the same. There are drugs you can use to little risk to yourself and other (if handled properly), and the same goes for guns. And yet, drugs are illegal, whereas most guns are legal. Why is that, I wonder?

Luka said...

@Michael: Yes, and earthquakes don't kill people, buildings do... but this is pointless. I have to agree with pengovsky that this is just a mantra really being a lame excuse. Guns are made with one and sole purpose - killing people. We don't make scrambled eggs with guns or anything else for that matter. So that famous saying a hypocritical no matter how you look at it. Guns have no other purpose. But of course you are right about banning guns in USA will amount to nothing. People will still continue to kill each other because the problem lies in the society. And people having guns there, is just another symptom of the same promblem of American society. People in Europe don't have guns and they also do not build bombs or even use knives to massacre each other. So what I am trying to say is that you are right about the fact that guns are not the immediate ennemy. The problem is the deep rooted wild west mentality where people even consider that having guns could be somthing normal.

pengovsky said...

It just dawned on me... 33 dead... That's a lot of ammo... Even assuming that each bullet was fatal (which I find kind of hard to believe, plus there were a lot of wouned), the number of victims suggest at least one reload, which would mean that this whole thing was entirely premeditated.

Lisa said...

Horrifyingly, at least one person notified campus officials about this person. Professor Roy seems to me an extremely brave and in-tune person to not only pick up on this person and his effect on his peers and teachers, but also to try to help him individually, suggest counselling and contact authorities about him. Professors and students expressed fear of this person for a couple of years before this incident.

pengovsky said...

And yet noone did anything about it... It is a typical example of "somebody else's problem". Having read the whole story by WP I'm surprised by the number of people who suddenly remember who this guy way - but beforehand everyone thought he was just "the wierdo down the hall".

If the shooter had a history of mental problems, wouldn't that show up on someone's radar? Or was everyone too self-oriented to take notice?

Don't get me wrong - I'm not defending him, I'm just trying to piece this together the best I can.

Inaudiable and/or incomprehensible speech are the first signs of mental instability - usually followed by a creations of an alternate reality, often perceived by the outside world as paranoia.

I don't expect students to know that (afterall they came to the university to have a good time and learn), but I always thought there are at least behavioral specialists if not fully fledged psychiatrists available at such institutions.

Michael said...

@peng: Not sure why he didn't make a bomb maybe he just didn't like them, or thought it wasn't necessary, we'll never know. And your right it's easy to find instructions on the internet to create them.

Gunshot is an easier way to kill people than bombs?...I think not!!!

If that were true bombs would have never been invented. Which is easier: light a fuse and throw a bomb into a crowd, or point and shoot at 32 people with two pistols?

By the way your right he bought both pistols legally approximately 30 days prior to the incident. And eyewitnesses state he reloaded several times so I'm pretty sure it's premeditated also.

Sorry peng, but your drug analogy is not a very good one. :) Yes drugs won't kill people all by themselves, if they just sat on a desk not being used, just like guns. Also, not all drugs are illegal, medicine are drugs as well...legal drugs. Illegal drugs (for the most part) are those that have been found to have no medicinal value, and are found over long term use to have health consequences.

@luka: First I have to say you misused your analogy. It would have to be buildings don't kill people earthquakes do...since somebody has to pick up a gun and fire it (i.e. cause->effect). The building needs something to make it fall, hence the earthquake. So earthquakes do kill people, just like people kill people. :)

Yes a gun is built to kill. It's only purpose is to kill people though??? What about hunters? They use it to hunt animals. What about farmers who are trying to protect their livestock from coyotes and wolves and foxes and so on. Some people do like do use them for skeet shooting/clay pigeons (basically hard clay targets). Last but not least for home protection..unfortunately in the US you have some pretty brazen criminals who try and break in your home regardless of whether you are there or not. Some people just like having the gun to have the feeling that they are safe and protected.

Your next statement Luka I'll just think of that as a typo perhaps...because no one in Europe has built bombs nor owns a gun? What happened in Madrid & London over the last 3 years?? I know for a fact people do own guns in Europe, they might need a license to have possession of it or be in a club but yes people do own them. Oh and what about groups like Red Army Faction & Italian Red Brigades in the 80's that took hostages and used bombs/guns?

Finally, my whole point is I just dislike the whole gun-control debate mainly because it neglects the root problem, why these people are doing this. I mean look at Columbine, the media talked and talked about how guns, movies, video games caused that tragedy. They barely touched on why the culprits do the act. Here we are 8 years later same stuff happening and we're no closer to the truth.

Last comment to you peng...yes we probably will never be able to fully stop people from trying to kill other people, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. I know you weren't saying that...but I know there are others in this world who think "well it always going to happen so why bother trying to fix it"!

Michael said...

@peng: just saw your last post after I posted my massive response. :)

IMO, that "someone else's problem" is typical behavior here in the US. I was watching a national news broadcast here the other day, and they had one of the kids who graduated last year, and said that he remembered the guy and was always joking w/ friends that they'll probably see him in the newspaper someday guilty of some crime like the one he committed. I guess they won't be joking anymore.

Unfortunately he didn't come forward when he first had those fears, maybe then this tragedy would have been prevented. I'm also sorry to say I doubt he'll even learn a lesson from this. I bet if he would run across a similar person in the future; he would probably stay silent again.

Luka said...

@Michael: Look, it was not my intention to start arguing about this gun control issue, I was only trying to say that the problem of people shooting each other in the States does not spring from the fact that everybody has a gun, but rather the fact that everybody HAS a gun is already the effect of a certain state of society. And of course I was not implying that nobody in Europe owns a gun. We all know how many guns Jelincic owns. But this can hardly be compared to ordinary people hiding revolvers under their pillows.
But you see, I disagree with you concerning my analogy. If there are no buildings, no earthquake can harm you, right? And that is exactly why we disagree about the gun issue. Guns on the shelves don't hurt anyone... Well, so we can put a vase on the shelf, right? C'mon, guns were not invented for biathlon! Or skeet shooting. This is just for compensating our hunter instincts or I don't know what. Anyway, I still believe that guns do kill people and that that famous saying is nothing but hypocritical. And of course bombs do too. And so do swords. The only question is how you organize a society. In Japan ordinary people were prohibited to use swords already as early as the end of 16th century. I think that 21st century is late enough to take the killing weapons out of peoples hands also in the States.

pengovsky said...

@michael:

Re: bomb: If he wanted to make the bomb, he'd have to google it, get the components from various sources and mix them in proper quantities. Much easier to get a gun to kill with. Just a trek down the street to the nearest gun-store.

Re: stopping the killing: My point exactly... I'm arguing that *if* people are going to try to kill each other, it should be made harder for them to do so! I'd call restricting access to guns a good start. Yes, guns can pe of good use for hunters/farmers/sharpshooters/collectors, etc... Noone disputes that. But I'm sure they wouldn't mind guns being a bit more regulated.

Re: feeling safe: I know that line of reasoning - but I also happen to know that most gun-related accidents happen when a scared mother shot her husband who was sneaking into the house in the middle of the night trying not to wake her up, or when a spousal abuser takes it up one level and replaces fists and trouser-belts with a barrel of a gun.

Re: drugs/guns: Actually I think you've proven my point. The fact is that drugs (better: narcotics) are made for people to get high. And guns are made to kill. But the latter is perfectly legal, whereas the former are illegal.

Again: you can get busted for *buying* 5 grams of cocaine, but you get busted only *after* you've killed people with a gun.

Michael said...

@luka: Ok, I believe you...but please understand that I don't think anybody who would've read your statement "People in Europe don't have guns and they also do not build bombs or even use knives to massacre each other." would believe you weren't implying that. I hope you see what I'm talking about.

Hiding revolvers under pillows?? I think everybody in this world takes what they see on TV and in American movies far too seriously!

On earthquakes..wrong again. The tsunami that killed all those people in SE Asia was caused by earthquakes. Check out the link if you'd like. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsunami#2004_-_Indian_Ocean_tsunami
They can cause avalanches in snowy mountainous areas, and can kill you many other ways, but that's besides the point. The whole point of the guns/people analogy is it takes a person to kill someone. i.e. The gun will never grow legs walk across a desk and shoot someone all by itself. The same goes for your building analogy, unless someone or something alters the building physically to make it fall it will never harm anyone.

Not sure I get your vase comment?? But if your talking about placement of the gun, well I was just trying to say a gun placed by itself anywhere...a shelf, the ground, table, a box, closet, whatever doesn't matter it will never be able to hurt you until a person picks it up. And since you brought up the vase, you don't think that can be turned into a weapon? If you break it, it's turns into sharp shards. You could easily use it like a knife. Should we ban those too perhaps?? I know, I know it has other uses.

If you read my entire previous post, you see I don't disagree with the fact that guns are built to kill. I never said it was invented for biathalon, did I??

You said guns have no other purpose, so I gave a few instances where guns are used for other purposes besides killing. I just wanted to disprove a false statement you made, but at no point did I ever say guns were made for a purpose other than to kill, I agreed with you in fact.

Funny you should mention Japan, which has some of the strictest gun laws around. Although it doesn't seem to help, it seems a certain mobster didn't follow the gun ban rules and shot the Mayor of Nagasaki dead yesterday over a payment dispute with the city.

My whole point before we started going off on tangents is that even if you ban all the guns, and have people turn them in. The only people who will turn them are the good citizens who would never harm anyone. The bad guys will keep them until they're taken away, and fat chance of that happening.

On one other point with you luka I have to agree, there is something with the way people act/think/behave in the USA that predicates them to this type of behavior. I don't know if it's Wild West behavior...I think that's a little too cliché and not totally correct, but it would be nice to find out why it happens not go ahead and ban every conceivable object that can be used as a weapon first. <- I know that's not something you suggested, but in America it's not too crazy to think it might actually happen.

luka said...

Michael, thank you for your lengthy response... but I think we are not coming together on some points and I'll just try to comment on some of them... earthquakes: well I would really feel stupid if were beginning to discuss this earthquake question seriously. Earthquake is not on trial it was ment to be an analogy to show my point, the analogy which obviously missed its point since you don't agree on it. But still, tsunamis and avalanches again are the ones that kill, not the earthquakes.
No, you didn't say guns were invented for biathlon. That was ment to be my sarcastic addendum to your mentioning skeet shooting and so. It's no point saying all the things that can be turned into a weapon... people can kill with their own hands. But vase is suppose to sit quietly on the shelf while gun is suppose to... well SHOOT. And saying coyotes here is only an excuse.
Of course I understand your argument about protection. But that is entirely in line with my argument that the real problem lies in the fact, that people there actually have to protect themselves with guns. But that is the path in the wrong direction, I believe. Following this kind of logic, we could say that people actually DON'T carry enough guns, because if they did, somebody could shoot Cho, before he killed 32 people. But would that make the American society safer?

Michael said...

@peng: hold on there a second. Don't be changing your story. :) Above you said "He wanted to kill in the easiest way possible." that's not the same as which is easier to get. Also I'll chock this up to you not knowing US gun laws. But it's not as easy as walking up to a store. They have to wait for a background check to get the gun which is at least 3 days up to 7. So you see plenty of time to do other things.

My point though is the access restriction will only stop those who aren't going to break the rules. Many of these school shooting were planned out over several month long periods, like Columbine. Plenty of time to stockpile or get weapons through illegal/subversive means. More regulate you say, not sure what else they can do besides take them away.

re: feeling safe: I'm all for possibly requiring anybody who owns a gun to take safety classes for proper handling procedures so accidents like you described don't happen. The spousal abuse scenario is a little cheap, so how about he pulls out a knife instead of a gun, is that any better?

re: drugs/guns: Not really, now your breaking down drugs into good/bad ones and leaving out the part that doesn't fit your argument while at the same time including all guns. Not exactly fair. Also drugs have two purposes, the good ones non-narcotics (also if I'm not mistaken narcotics also includes legal drugs that are abusable) heal, the bad ones get you "high" and slowly kill cells. On the other hand all guns are the same, no gun will affect you differently, the only bad effect it will have on a person is when a person holds the weapon.

Anyways to both of you peng & luka, I hope you don't take any of my comments the wrong way, I just get a little worked up about issues like this and when I see comments that I perceive to be misguided and possibly give someone the wrong impression.

Luka said...

And Michael, the earthquakes here are irrelevant, while the drugs are completely beside the point. Actually I don't know why drugs should be illegal, I think that I can eat or smoke whatever I like. What, if somebody says that tomato is bad for my health, they should ban tomatoes?? If I want to smoke hash I should damn well be allowd to do so. And besides, all the mafia killings and crime happens exactly BECAUSE drugs are illegal.
USA went as far as prohibiting the alcohol in its days... it didn't prove to be a smart move. Tousands died and not because of drinking it.

Jay said...

I walk away from the blog for a day and look what happens . . . no, I'm happy you're all discussing this, it should be talked about. Although, whenever a school shooting occurs the discussion is usually the same: gun control, public safety, the effects of violent media or violent culture, watching out for potentially dangerous people, you all know the drill.

Generally I avoid these issues for a little while. People are suffering. They lost loved ones or have been injured, and although it is our responsibility as citizens to make sense out of tragedies like this, I don't want to overly philosophize / theorize / problematize incidents like these.
It abstracts away from human suffering and it is my responsibility to ease suffering.

So, please, continue discussing these issues, only I won't have anything meaningful to say. You are all better at it than I am. :)

However, I've has some time to think about things and read the comments, but I could only come up with two items.

First, look out for copycats. Sometimes this happens, according to research. Universities, high schools - any institution with a large number of people should be on high alert for awhile.

Second, as some of you pointed out, the safety protocols at VA Tech met with some problems. Did they outright fail? I don't know; I don't have enough information. If other institutions are watching for copycats, they could learn from VA Tech to prevent further loss of life.

Your thoughts on this? Or anything else? I encourage vigourous discussions. :)

Luka said...

And the readers of these comments will judge which are misguided so you needn't worry about the wrong impression.

Michael said...

@luka: well you brought up a point at the end that I was thinking of, but wasn't going to bring up. Who knows, maybe if everybody had a gun it would be safer! I don't know, maybe.

Using pengovsky reasoning that less deaths equates an improved situation. If everybody in the class had a gun and shot Cho before he shot anyone else it would have saved lives. Some might say that would be good. It all depends though, if it stopped all crime then I'd say yeah it's a great solution, but if crime didn't change or got worse, it didn't solve anything. Unfortunately I can't see the future to answer questions like that. :) At any rate giving everybody a gun would probably be just as unsuccessful as taking everybody's gun away. It still doesn't solve why these people act/think that killing others is the answer. It would be nice for the world to focus on something like that instead of a band-aid type solution like gun-control, which in the end I feel would change nothing.

I'll just say this much about the analogies, my whole point with that is more cause & effect and how it relates to the analogy regardless of specific examples. You need item A to do something with item B to have the desired effect C. If item A never existed item B would never be able to cause C to occur. I was just pointing out your original statement because it was backwards, I never wanted to go this much in detail :) seriously :). In your original example I was pointing out that if the building didn't exist earthquakes could still kill people a million other ways, no need to mention them all. And your comment the earthquake didn't kill, the tsunami did, that's just a question of semantics (which one you want to blame, earthquake caused the tsunami, tsunami drowned everybody), so another bad example on my part.

Hmm, I forgot where I was going with this now, and I'm tired of going back and forth over something so silly like this anyway...So let's just agree to disagree on this analogy garbage. :)

Michael said...

"Actually I don't know why drugs should be illegal, I think that I can eat or smoke whatever I like. What, if somebody says that tomato is bad for my health, they should ban tomatoes?? If I want to smoke hash I should damn well be allowd to do so. And besides, all the mafia killings and crime happens exactly BECAUSE drugs are illegal.
USA went as far as prohibiting the alcohol in its days... it didn't prove to be a smart move. Tousands died and not because of drinking it."

Aha. My thoughts exactly. Funny though most people would call you a hypocrite for that view point. So you should be able to have drugs because you wish it, but guns on the other hand you have a problem with and you don't want people to have.

Also you brought up prohibition and how that went down, do you think if they take everybody's guns away it would be any different?

My view on drugs is somewhat different but no need to go into that discussion here.

Illegal drugs are a good portion of the causes of crime but not completely.

Oh and finally, your comment about tomatoes..well I would say once they ban weapons in the US, and crime still occured, then it would be blame the next thing we can find for the violence. Maybe they'd be banning violent movies or video games next. You might think I'm crazy but there has already been attempts by politicians to severly limit things like that. My point is when does it stop.

Michael said...

@Jay: sorry for going all into the weeds about guns.

I wasn't planning to post anything but when it was brought up by other posters; I decided to give my differing view points, in hopes of steering the conversation more toward the culprit and why he decided to do this.

Lisa said...

Jay's out for a drink, but I think I can speak for him when I say "please feel free to run through the weeds"! :)

Lisa said...

@ peng: From what I understand, Roy directly alerted university officials about the guy. One female professor threatened to quit if he wasn't removed from her classes (he was taking pictures of her and other students, and was writing bizarre and violent things for his assignment). Between demeanor, obvious social isolation, expression of violent fantasies and other inappropriate acts (snapping pictures, for instance), it's becoming pretty clear that quite a few professors were concerned. Professors talk...there is no way admin wouldn't have been aware of the issue with him.

And this is where the issue of violence against women rears its head (and it will likely be completely ignored in the mainstream press while the left and right argue over guns and semantics, or worse, over whether the shooter was somehow connected to Islam..for crying out loud!!!).

It's coming out now that the murderer had been stalking women on campus, and that officials had even investigated him. So, not only did Professor Roy approach uni officials, but (presumedly) campus police officers interviewed some of his alleged stalking victims. This piece on boingboing.net (particularly Laura S. Petelle's comment) really sums up for me the issue of violence against women on North American campuses. Under-reporting and hushing up of violent incidents, and bungling of procedures means that a lot of things "slip under the radar". I wish it were pure ineptitude that was the cause of this, because the truth is uglier: universities don't want to lose funding or scare away prospective students.

Of course the reaction of those who had a passing acquaintance with the murderer will be "yeah, I had a feeling all along". It's a way of coping with the inexplicable, a way of trying to fit the event into some kind of rational universe. But more than a few people had legit, voiced concerns about this kid. There was definitely diffusion of responsibility, but I would suggest that it falls at the feet of admin and campus policing officials.

pengovsky said...

@michael: Sorry to follow up so late in the night...

I still think guns and knives are inherently different - even if you think of both as strictly killing devices.

Furthermore: Yes, three days for a background check - if he bought it from a licensed dealer. As you point out so accurately, I don't know enough about gun laws in the US, but from what I understand, that's not the only way to buy a gun legally...

But debating about fine point of mechanics of buying a firearm is rather academic, isn't it?

The fact is that the shooter had ways and means to take a lot of lives.

I think we all agree on the fact that it is *much* easier to legally get a gun in the US than in Europe, making guns a weapon of choice in the US (apparently there are some 200 milion guns out there in the US) - not in the least because a gun can be used to a more deadly effect with greater safety to the perpetrator (the fact that he took his own life is what usually happens at the end of a killing spree).

I meant what I said in the begining of this debate. It is incomprehensible to me for guns to be so widely available (widely compared to my own country, of course). Do you really believe that taking away guns would percipetate an avalanche of government attempts at controlling all aspects of life?

I apologize if these questions seem out of place or even partronizing. I assure you they are not. I'm just trying to understand. I do have some idea of the intensity of gun control debate in the US - but I imagine it might remain a mystery to me, much like the divisions in Slovenia which date from WWII are (I'm sure) a mystery to people from other places

Lisa said...

**To add to my comment, I don't mean to say that the gun issue isn't worthy of debate (I really like the discussion here about that), just that the way it will play out in the wretched sensational media between "left" and "right" talking heads will likely, as usual, completely subsume discussions that are probably more important to the actual prevention of both mass and individual violent acts in the future.

pengovsky said...

@lisa: Yes, due to today's correspondence I'm following the story much more closely. And I agree with you completely... So many people in position have failed to do their duty that it's just unbelivable.

Just on a side note: I understand that the shooter was a "legal alien". I thought only US citizens can buy a gun freely?

Lisa said...

I think his status was akin to permanent residence status...but I don't know too much about issues of immigration (in US) to do with gun purchase. He certainly didn't have a problem purchasing the guns under Virginia law, so there must be either a loophole or it's ok for "aliens" to own guns in that state.

As for following the story more closely, I'm trying to pull back a little to look at it more sociologically (and it's part of why I'm really appreciating this conversation). Reading about the 70+ year old professor, Liviu Librescu, who survived the Holocaust and Ceaucesceu's regime, and then died holding the door against the gunman so that his students could escape out the windows just about undid me.

Michael said...

@peng: Well I agree there are differences between guns & knives. I just didn't think your spousal dispute comment really carried any added value. Mainly because having a gun in the house isn't going to cause the man to kill his wife instead of beat her. If he had a knife, he could just as easily have stabbed her to death.

Oh by the way I forgot to post this earlier but you can get arrested for having a gun without killing someone with it in the USA. More than a couple ways. 1. If you're caught with an unregistered gun for any reason, your busted. 2. If you live in a state that doesn't allow you to carry firearms around the city/in your vehicle (quite a few states)
and you get caught you get busted as well even if it's a registered gun.

Back on topic

I'd have to research the other legal ways you speculate about. To tell you the truth I'm not 100% sure, but there could be another legal way to purchase a gun in the US.

Yes it is rather academic, only reason I brought it up is your prior post made it seem that buying a gun in the US was as nonchalant as skipping down to a store and saying 1..2..3 guns please!

Yes I'd say it's more difficult to aquire a weapon in Europe; Even though I honestly don't know all the rules over there myself

To a certain degree yes. Although IMO it wouldn't be an avalanche, it would be slower and more methodical. It would probably happen because after you take all the guns away, these crimes would still occur. Then it would be the media and spinster politicians job to find the next "supposed" culprit. They keep knocking on that new "culprit" until they finally get their way, and so on. Besides look at what America is like today, parents try getting the government to control what kids watch instead of the other way around. IMO most parents seem to rather have the government raise their children in every aspect instead of doing it themselves. If that continues you don't think the government will eventually control every aspect of our lives. I agree it might take 1 or 2 generations, but eventually if people just willingly give up their freedoms, eventually the govt will have them all.

pengovsky said...

@lisa: You see, this kind of information depresses me... I mean, I've seen people die without reason once or twice, but this is just so sad...

Lisa said...

I'm sorry, I don't mean to spread sadness by relating that story! :(

After spending some time crying after reading the article about him, I decided to try and focus on the beauty and selflessness of what he did, instead of the sadness of the story. Often there is so much focus on carnage and loss, that the truly good and noble acts undertaken by everyday people can be swept aside.

Luka said...

Michael I am really loosing you. I am hypocritical because I would allow drugs but not the guns??? Why is that the same? Am I going to throw a joint at you and kill you with that??? And why would you want to have a gun? I don't believe it's fot your personal satisfaction. And your logical reasoning: You need item A to do something with item B to have the desired effect C. If item A never existed item B would never be able to cause C to occur...
Did you think maybe that item A could not be able to do that if it hadn't been for item B? And again, item B being a gun, why exactly do we use them? Gettig high or getting dead?

Michael said...

re: "legal alien" - It was written in news reports that he was a legal alien with a valid green card w/ permanent residency.

Apparently this is all that is needed to legally purchase a gun if you are a non-us citizen.

Food for thought...it was also stated that he had been in a mental institution recently but he had been labeled as a self-identified patient. Had he been put into the system as being referred to the mental institute not by choice (which was the case) he would never have passed the background check to purchase the weapon.

pengovsky said...

@michael: I was under the impression that the pressure for "decency" and "protecting children from bad influences" comes mainly from the same circles as pro-gun attitudes do. I may have been mistaken.

I know the quote by (I think) Teddy Roosevelt, who said that if you trade a little liberty for a little security, you deserve neither and will lose both. And basically I agree with it. I just don't believe that this includes realitve ease of access to guns.

In my mind guns should be picked up by ordinary people only in time of war, whereas in time of peace the right to bear arms should reside only with army and the police.

@lisa: I agree... But sometimes I get the feeling that this sort of things happen only to good people, whereas "not so good" people somehow make it. And I thking this applies to all walks of life

Lisa said...

Well, we agree there (and in quite a few other places too), certainly.

I hope it's not trite or overly naive to wish that at least some of those students that he saved with his sacrifice will find a way to go forward with their lives and do something good with them.

Michael said...

@luka: Lets just drop the analogy stuff. I don't think we'll ever see eye to eye on that one. :)

I'll make it short and sweet..drugs can lead to death (by overdosing), guns can lead to death too. You find one not so reprehensible whereas the other you have a problem with.

Well I don't have a gun, nor do I ever care to own one. Some people do though, for the reasons i stated in earlier posts.

Michael said...

@pengovsky: I'm all for "protecting children from bad influences" up to the point that it's the governments job (i.e. locking up child predators, child labor laws, and so on). I just see too many people trying to slough off their jobs as parents onto the government.

Concerning "decency" that's the parents job to teach. Would you want the governments of Nazi Germany, Idi Amin, Saddam teaching their people decency?

pengovsky said...

@michael: It may surprise you, but we actually agree on the decency issue. For example: Our "precious" (read: proto-fascist) government has passed a law setting a curfew for children under 16. I'm still furious about it. I *do* think that kids under 16 have to be home by 10 pm, but that's their parents' business, not the governments.

It's just that you extend that line of reasoning to the issue of gun ownership, whereas I don't. Again, I firmly believe that firearms should not be available to general public (hunters, sportsmen, collectors, sure, but only after a thorough background check). I stress the fact that this is my *belief*.

I am, however, begining to realize the depth of the "gun control" debate. But I do believe that owning a gun "for protection" puts you in even greater danger.

maja said...

This seems like a very interesting debate, unfortunately I haven't had the time to read it all, but I was just wondering...has anyone read DBC Pierre's Vernon God Little? It has to do with the topic you're discussing, especially with the effect media can have in this kind of situation. I recommend reading it.

Michael said...

@pengovsky: Actually, I'm not really surprised. Personally I find most European countries leave defining what is decent to that of the parents. I've seen many things in Germany and as Michael from Carniola writes in his "things you'll never see in America" posts that would never make it in America.

Well I would say most of the people who own guns in the USA fit into one of those categories. I'd guess that the actual number of people who buy it just for protection is probably less than 1/4 of all gun owners. And those people/politicians in the USA who are against guns, well they know the best they will ever be able to do is limit guns a little more. If they had their way though, they would ban guns for everybody. Only the police and military could "legally" have guns in this country if they had their way.

Disablez said...

Well, I own a handgun. That doesn't make me a criminal, -even if Jack Thompson would say so-. Not even helps me to think more as a criminal.
But that's because my head is well furnished. I think just police should have guns. However you can ban drugs, guns, videogames, whatever, and some people will always find other ways to hurt.

The subjacent problem is the fact that society is ill. And an ill society creates ill individuals.
We went from full-scale censure to "everything is valid". I'm 24 and most guys 4 yrs younger than me seem to be brainless. Parents nowadays are too busy to teach correct behavior, teachers cannot do anything as "the poor child will get frustrated and traumatized", and poor if they dare to say something to the boy, as next day his father will come in rage to kick their ass for daring to touch "his angelcek". And media doesn't really help educate those poor minds. I can play GTA, or see "nice" movies, as first my head has been formed (punishments and some lesser hitting included). But a child that wasn't well taught... how can he be responsible to have a gun, a car, a bottle of whiskey?

We went all through from oppression to libertinism, w/o staying in freedom. Freedom means not that u're free to do whatever you feel like, but that u're able to control what you do. He who cannot control his own freedom, doesn't deserve it.
Then comes the other side of this ill society... Given that there's people who cannot control his freedom, we need other people to do so. There comes police, judges. Problem is they don't serve moral values, but other people. Thus, each time they do less and less of what they would be supposed to, and people who decides to behave as a normal member of society, feels helpless.

-Let's say right now I'm watching a clone of Solid Snake eating ice-cream, just to spit it on the wall of my building. Yesterday he came with tools and stole the exterior lights, breaking as well the covers. A month ago, he was loading a real -not compressed-air- gun, God knows what for. Nice police says "We cannot do anything till something big happens". And I know even if they did, they'd just be told how evil they were and sent out in a pair of days... poor them, they'd grow frustrated. Some others have tried to break into the cellar a pair of times. Everyone keeps having doors open. Answer of the manager... put a paper saying "please don't enter, you naughty boys", and saying "well, some neighbors are rich, so they don't care being stolen the cellar. You're helpless"-
Therefore, if I was different person, there'd arrive a moment in which either I surrender and depress, or I take the gun and go on a killing spree... something that is not justifiable, but it's one of the few options that I feel I have, to solve a problem that shouldn't be happening.

As well, we can add in the total individualism of people in most cases. You see someone being attacked and turn your head, for if something happens to you for helping him. You see people with problems, depressed... and you don't do anything.

So, what really happened? Is this guy just a badly-brought-up Korean that played too much Counta'Straik' and Starcraft? Or did his madness (yes, he is mad, not justifying what he did) come from something he went through for years? Was his education taken care of? Was help offered to him?... Were teachers paid attention when they felt something was not ok? Or just "sorry ma'am, we're busy with Paris Hilton suing Britney Spears cause she said their boobs are artificial"

But more... why are we surprised and shocked that things like that happen? If the first thing our society does is selling the news, and using them for everyone's private purposes?

Michael said...

@Disablez: I agree with quite a few of your statements. Although this one >Parents nowadays are too busy to teach correct behavior< Do you really believe that, or was that a sarcastic comment?? I myself hear this "too busy" excuse for a myriad of things...and that's what it is an excuse. If that's the case maybe they shouldn't have had children or they need to reevaluate how they spend their time.

Also I agree with the teachers comment, unfortunately nowadays teachers are unable to do anything even when action is warranted. If kids are acting out the teachers should not have to worry about moron parents who protect their children even when they are wrong. One thing I find backwards in the US is when these troublesome students get in trouble they get suspended/expelled. I don't see how that's punishment, many don't like having to be there in the first place. If you were going to punish them, you should make them stay after school, and make up for the time they wasted.

I'm almost 27 now, and I think the same way of most people younger than me in the USA. IMO that's a product of our broken education system in the US.

Like you said in your post, many people have this attitude that if it doesn't affect me it's not my problem.

To your last comment Disablez...It doesn't surprise or shock me at all, it never has..even back when Columbine happened. Look at how every country turns a blind eye toward all the violence going on in the world today. All the violence going on in Africa over the last couple decades, the sex (children too) slave trade in Asia, and human rights abuses in many other countries all over the world.

Nothing ever gets done really, many will give a token response to give the impression that they are doing something, but their actions are so minuscule it's insulting!!

Disablez said...

Agree. The parents' issue was meant to be ironic, as you guessed.