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I intimidate the other students

Teacher asked us to do an in-class essay in about ten minutes. I read mine to the class; one response was "You read that off the Internet, didn't you?" (Another, sadly, was "I'm not reading mine after that." *sigh*)

Who or what (besides Cho Seung-Hui) is responsible for the shooting at Virginia Tech and why?

It is a simple reality of our world that there are violent people in it. Whether mentally unbalanced or simply criminal, some people will decide to use force against others. Those people ought to be condemned, but people who are unwilling to face this simple, stark reality deserve a small share of the blame too.

I am speaking about gun control advocates.

A murder--even a multiple murder--at Virginia Tech was virtually inevitable with a deranged student like Cho Seung-Hui on the campus. But the fact that none of the students or teachers on campus could legally be armed turned a murder into a massacre.

No doubt some will blame Seung-Hui's crime on the Glock pistols he carried. The student obtained it legally, but he didn't have to; convicted felons get weapons all the time despite laws preventing them from purchasing them legally. The problem was not that Seung-Hui had a weapon; it's that nobody else did. If Seung-Hui had been carrying a rapier and nobody else on campus had so much as a pocketknife, the result would have been the same. It is the difference in armament, not the presence of it, that causes mass killings.

What would have happened if students could arm themselves freely? Surely at least one person in the many classrooms he attacked would have had a weapon equal to Seung-Hui's. He could have been stopped when the death toll stood at ten instead of thirty-two. It would still have been a tragedy--but not on anywhere near the same scale.



( Read 25 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 24th, 2007 01:28 am (UTC)
I still don't think the students should be allowed to have firearms. It's true; he could have been stopped before the death toll reached the number it did, but that might be balanced by a number of single homocides spread out over the year.

That being said, maybe the faculty should be allowed. That seems a little discriminatory, but university faculty generally undergo a number of interviews, tests and require a great deal of references before being hired by respectable universities. Students, on the other hand, are rarely interviewed to attend a university at the undergraduate level and are judged almost solely on grades, which is a poor indication of mental health/stability. Then again, it puts a lot of responsibility on faculty and danger as well, since, knowing this, a potental assailant would target faculty first in order to remove threats...

So I dunno... I really don't think making guns MORE accessible is the answer. To me, it's a mentality thing... in Canada, if someone gets pissed off and goes nuts, they rarely think of going on a shooting spree as the first option. And people DO go crazy pretty regularly, but because guns are so rare here, you only hear about shootings rarely... or maybe it's a function of the population difference. Who knows! In Pakistan too, guns are uncommon(despite the lax regulatory system, people are just too damn poor to buy guns) and you hear about shootings very rarely (well we get news from there, since that's where our family's from). But Pakistan's got its own set of problems, I'm tangenting hardcore, I think I'm done...
Apr. 24th, 2007 02:30 am (UTC)
On the other hand, Britain's gun crime is so bad that parents are buying bulletproof vests for their kids, and a mayor in Japan was just assassinated by a gunman; both countries have strict gun-control laws. I don't think it's the guns, I think it's the people.

The reality is that even if you let them, most people won't carry. Off the top of my head, I'd say that maybe one in fifty people would carry a gun if they could. If you restrict guns to professors, you'll be lucky if one professor in a building will want to carry one. (Less, actually, since most professors are liberals...) I sure as hell wouldn't want to force professors to carry—most of them wouldn't know what to do with a gun, which is a very dangerous situation, and despite the news reports, gun crime in schools really is pretty low. But if you let the students carry, you'll probably end up with one gun for every class or two—and since they'll be carrying voluntarily, chances are they'll know what they're doing.

As for the "lots of little homicides": keep in mind that most people are basically rational. Unless you're a gangster who's used to flouting the law or a nutcase who's too unstable to understand the possible consequences, you're not going to blow somebody's head off because he knocked your backpack over. If you think otherwise, you've probably never held a gun. Holding something that could destroy lives in your hands brings a remarkable clarity to your thoughts.
Apr. 24th, 2007 03:49 pm (UTC)
The rest of this, I am not in much of a position to comment on, but this:

"On the other hand, Britain's gun crime is so bad that parents are buying bulletproof vests for their kids"

... Bwahuh?

This is obviously a fairly recent development, because it's the first I've heard of it, and I live here.

Gun crime is on the increase over the last couple of years? Yes. Anywhere even remotely as prevelant as gun crime in the US? No.
Apr. 24th, 2007 04:52 pm (UTC)

It's probably an overreaction, but it's still rather telling.
Apr. 24th, 2007 03:57 am (UTC)
I still don't think the students should be allowed to have firearms. It's true; he could have been stopped before the death toll reached the number it did, but that might be balanced by a number of single homocides spread out over the year.

News flash. Virginia Tech is in rural, southwest Virginia. We already have the guns. No, really. If we want to go shooting up campus, we don't have to go shopping. Hell, I've got three handguns, and 200 rounds of ammo sitting on my desk (well, two of the handguns are in my safe, but that's a different matter). And my stuff is 9mm, .38, and .357... no sissy .22 stuff here. And I'm probably packing lightly. Now law or school policy is going to keep guns out of campus.
Apr. 24th, 2007 12:59 pm (UTC)
Pardon my ignorance.

... wait, if everyone already had ready access to guns, why didn't anyone pull out a gun? Are there policies in place already restricting guns on campus? I thought that's something they're doing as a reaction to this.
Apr. 24th, 2007 04:02 pm (UTC)
Because university policy (University Policies for Student Life, section V.W. (just skip to the end, it's the very last section)) prohibits my carrying on campus, even though it's perfectly legal for me to do so.

So we all had guns. But those who are inclined to follow the rules, the ones you can most trust with firearms, left ours at home.

What we, as gun owners, and especially those of us who have been cleared by Virginia State Police to carry a concealed handgun, are demanding the right to defend ourselves as the founding fathers intended.
Apr. 24th, 2007 04:46 am (UTC)
I'm not sure if it's really fair to say that allowing students and teachers to carry guns would have either prevented or lessened the tragedy. There's a good chance he simply wouldn't have run into anyone that happened to be carrying, after all. (Of course, he also probably would have been too much of a pussy to try in the first place, but I digress...)

However, while you can't say for sure it would have stopped it, there's some small chance it might have, and a small chance is better than none at all, right? And whether it would have stopped it or not, you'd have to be crazy to believe stricter gun control laws would have.

But if it were up to me, I'd have focused that essay on the fallacy of trying to place blame on anything other than Cho Seung-Hui in the first place.
Apr. 24th, 2007 12:24 pm (UTC)
I would say it was more than a chance. He fired on classes with grad students - meaning they were over 21 and could have a Concealed Handgun Permit. There were profs. Dr. Librescu had time to try to evacuate his students - he certainly would have had time to draw his piece. As the owner of Roanoke Firearms (yes, the store that sold Cho the guns, and yes, I've been there) told me, there are quite a few professors who shoot on a regular basis.

As I said above, we're in rural, southwest Virginia. We has the guns. We're just not allowed to carry on campus. I can assure you that he would have met up with a gun owner. If not in the classes he was in, then someone who heard the shots and screams and decided to come have a look-see.
Apr. 24th, 2007 04:55 pm (UTC)
Incidentally, Wikipedia notes that VT got a Virginia legislature bill killed last year that would have overridden public universities' rules against concealed carry on campus. Oops...
Apr. 25th, 2007 06:45 am (UTC)
The use of an unqualified "would" is a rhetorical device. I purposefully chose to very firmly defend my position because the assignment was to write a persuasive piece. If I'd been asked to merely explain my position instead of trying to persuade people of it, there would be quite a few more qualifiers scattered throughout. (And for that matter, I'd make it very clear that I pin about 99.9% of the blame on the nutcase who did it. I think the gun control policies that led to this were extremely misguided, but gun control advocates probably shouldn't lay awake at night mentally apologizing to the VT dead.)
Apr. 24th, 2007 03:11 pm (UTC)
I can see why they reacted that way.. the students in your class, I mean. ^^;
Apr. 24th, 2007 04:48 pm (UTC)
Most of their initial reaction was really, "zomg, you wrote something that good that fast?" Of course, once I'd brought up this position, the discussion shifted away from writing techniques to gun control...
Apr. 24th, 2007 06:12 pm (UTC)
Normally I don't comment on LJ stuff... but I'm going to break that rule because honestly, this is starting to disgust me - mostly cus you guys are people I generally think are cool.

Izzy, Brent, and well... everyone here (even El, as much as I love you man) except for Vorkon has the wrong idea.

"But if it were up to me, I'd have focused that essay on the fallacy of trying to place blame on anything other than Cho Seung-Hui in the first place."

Yes, yes, yes, and more yes. Goddamnit people, a week has hardly passed and already (even on the DAY OF IZZY!) you're trying to use these people's LIVES to justify your goddamn agenda! I mean, yes, there's plenty of fucking issues you can pin this on or say "look at this! If you had just listened to me then maybe this wouldn't have happened! Or not happened as bad!"

Fuck that!

This is a tragedy caused by one thing - the guy who did it. There's no deeper issues at stake here. So what if you could have reduced the killing to 20, 10, 5, even ONE person. This would have happened. Had it not been the killing of others, this would have been a Jeremy incident, and it would have still been a fucking tragedy.

The problem isn't Guns, Violent Video Games, Movies, Music, or anything else. It's a simple tragedy of one person who was either...
1. Mentally unstable without any real help.
2. Isolated, alone, and dispite those who tried to reach out to him, ultimately stayed alone to the point of losing it.

This isn't a problem of politics, it's a problem of people. Until we quit choosing the eyes of fear and choose the eyes of love, things like this will keep happening. Its a sad truth and reality, and you know what - even if every kid in that fucking school had a gun, one person would have died monday. And that's a tragedy.

So please PLEASE PLEASE stop this "guns could have saved Va Tech" argument. Please, it's making me lose a lot of respect for you guys. Please, it's not worth it to drag these people's corpses through the mud to make a point, since it's not like it's the core issue here. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE stop using this event to justify your agenda. You guys are better than this.

I'm going to go back to my hole now.

Apr. 24th, 2007 08:14 pm (UTC)
Re: ......
Technically, denying the premise of the question (i.e., "No, it all rests on the person") is a valid answer, as long as it's argued in a coherent fashion. So this was an option for the essay.

Hindsight is 20/20 with things like this, and society generally wants to look at factors that give them a sense of security ("What could we have done better? What policies could have been in place?") - even though it likely wouldn't have changed things drastically at all. This seems to be the default reaction.

As for using events and people to justify agendas, I've grown up with that - which is why I didn't respond to that, but to what seemed to be the reason why Brent put this up here on the first place; the "Hey, I wrote this, people thought it was a good essay" reaction. Whether or not you disagree with the premises, it is a good essay, especially given the time limitation (god, TEN MINUTES? And this is why I fangirl).

But, that's just me. Meh.
Apr. 24th, 2007 09:10 pm (UTC)
Re: ......
not logging in cus i'm lazy, but yes.

I agree, it's a well-done essay. 10 minutes too, that's very little time.

And yes, events should be used to justify agendas when it's an important factor to what happened, and when the agenda provides a real solution to the problem (maybe. That's very subjective too). Here, I'm not sure if gun control should be the debate we're focusing on as a society. Maybe I'm just crazy.

Regardless, yes - my previous post was more just a throwing up of hands at what people are focusing on these days in a very general sense too.

It was a fun essay Brent, and I have to say, it's a well argued point. I just wish it wasn't the point people were arguing...
Apr. 24th, 2007 11:48 pm (UTC)
Re: ......
Jasmine has already talked about the "following the prompt" angle, but I'll cover a different one. I think that politicizing this issue—and all issues, really—is necessary and good.

Politics has a bad rap because it's usually played dirty. But the basic idea is noble: it's a process for figuring out who should be in charge and what they should do. Everything that happens contains lessons that ought to be examined for political meaning—what it tells us about who should be in charge and what they should do. Otherwise we're working from less evidence than we could, so our conclusions will probably be more flawed than they could be.

For example, consider the Holocaust, probably the greatest tragedy of the last century. But how much worse would it have been if all we did was grieve for the victims and move on, without looking for the political meaning of the Holocaust? The discrediting of fascism, the understanding and rejection of genocide, the creation of new concepts in international law, the fall of anti-Semitism and increase in tolerance in the Western world, and the establishment of Israel were all positive results of politicizing the Holocaust. (Note that all of these causes existed before World War II; the discovery of the Holocaust simply added support.) The world is a better place because we drew political conclusions from the tragedy before we moved on.

Those conclusions, of course, can never make up for the Holocaust; nor can the conclusions we draw from Virginia Tech ever make up for the massacre. But to ignore those conclusions is to reject the small amount of sense we can recover from such a senseless act.
Apr. 25th, 2007 03:39 am (UTC)
Re: ......
I think a grieving non-reacting period is good because it gives people time to reflect and gain perspective on what happened. It makes the reacting stage wiser. That said, if every wise person waited for more evidence, the fools would get to speak unopposed for a long time, and I can see why people would want to avoid that. It's a tough problem.
Apr. 25th, 2007 12:07 am (UTC)
Re: ......
Hey, stop using this tragedy to promote your humanitarian agenda of treatment of people's mental health.
Apr. 25th, 2007 12:36 am (UTC)
Re: ......
that's the main reason i was loathe to post that T.T

Seriously though, what's at the heart of it all? That's my primary concern about all this - treating symptoms is good, but what's the root of the disease?
Apr. 25th, 2007 05:18 am (UTC)
Totally off-topic!
Kitsune mask! I have one. I loves it. It's even from Fushimi-Inari shrine. There was much squee.
Apr. 25th, 2007 08:40 am (UTC)
Re: ......
See, that's the thing. There's a difference between having an agenda, and genuinely thinking that you know what should be done to avoid such a tragedy in the future.

Watching people for warning signs is all well and good, but consider the difficulties with that. There are not enough doctors to watch everybody. The early warning signs of a crazed gun-toting psycho are very similar to the symptoms of a regular disgruntled teenager. And even if you successfully diagnose a growing problem, treatment is going to be hard because you can't really help the person unless they *want* to be helped, and trust you to help them.

Remember that people who are broken enough to take another person's life are very, very rare. Should we really suspect everyone around us of being the next crazed killer? Or should we assume that most people are decent and law-abiding, and allow them to have the means to protect themselves?
Apr. 25th, 2007 09:27 am (UTC)
Re: ......
I hardly presume to know what could truly fix the problem.

And while yes, the mental health factor is there, it's not just that...

It's a lot of things, but ultimately - the way I feel is simple: It's a psychological/social/societal issue we're dealing with here. Gun Control is a bandaid - it can get argued any which way, and it's not at all really related. Like i said - even if every person there was packing - this kid would have probably ended up committing suicide. Or if every gun was gone, he could have just as easily used a knife. or rope.

Is that not still a tragedy? Maybe not the same scale, but then again, there was the kid the song "Jeremy" got based off of. Killed himself infront of his class if i remember right. No one else got hurt physically, but well... that's a tragedy.

All I'm saying here is what people should really question and look at is WHY people are driven to this. Why someone would think it would be their only solution to kill themselves infront of their class. Or take as many with them as possible. What *creates* these people. And I'd say while there's some instability there, not all of them are raving lunatics. It's fully possible in the days to come we'll find the guy had no real "mental illness" aside from depression and feeling isolated - something that's been around far longer than the past 20 years if books like "The Stranger" are any indication. Or maybe he was completely insane and simply managed to stay "sane" enough to not be institutionalized. They referred him to counseling afterall, but people who get counseled/psychiatric aren't necessarily "mentally ill."

I'm not preaching anything in particular as far as solutions. I just wish we'd for once, as a society, look at the REAL heart of darkness behind the issue, rather than jumping to political bandwagons.

The truth of this incident is probably not going to make any politicians dollars, probably won't make anyone's legal agenda better.

What it could do though, maybe, just maybe, if we took it seriously and looked at why this happened... maybe make the world a better place. If we could find out what it is that drives people to feel they have to end it all like this.

I dunno, this could also be a completely absurd happening. There may be no rhyme or reason behind the killings, or it might be painfully obvious why.

I just think that in this case, at least, the "why" is the real issue. Not the "what could have prevented it." Afterall, I think that the "best case" scenario for this without looking at the why is still saddening - "try and erase this from the chalkboard" would probably be his final cry.

Regardless, I'd like to make a note now. Or several.

1. I'm tired, please forgive me if there's some errors.
2. It may be rambling a bit for #1
3. If it sounds like I "sympathize" with this guy... well, depends what you mean by that. If i can see potentially what state he was in psychologically and at least maybe understand, just a little, what he was thinking from the videos - yes (then again, anyone with any analysis skill can probably pick that up. It's not hard to see someone who's somewhat deluded, depressed, and gained a sense of righteous indignation from it). If i approve of the cowardly way he ended his life and the lives of others? no.

Apr. 24th, 2007 10:16 pm (UTC)

I'm not even going to bother to read the other comments to this entry right now. Instead, I'm just going to leave you with my emoticon and a link to this post from my journal (the comments are irrelevant).
Apr. 25th, 2007 03:00 pm (UTC)
Very good essay for a ten minute assignment. However I'm with the person who said that guns isn't the problem here. Now I was in the Boy Scouts and I support the idea of the second amendment. I know how to shoot a rifle, and while I'm not a great shot, if it came down to it, I could use it. I don't know how to use a handgun though I will admit. So my opinion on gun rights I think is pretty obvious.

However, no matter if everyone in that school was carrying guns or not this still would have happened. Would as many people have died? Who knows. Perhaps by someone having guns in the school the Seung-Hui could have stolen one from a person who could handle one and used that to kill everyone. It's Seung-Hui himself that caused this to occur, and its society that created him. What does society do in order to produce people like this? Until society can figure out how to change itself and fix itself things like this will continue to happen. The next one will probably happen in another 9 - 10 years.

Now, onto guns and gun control...

To quote the second amendment:

"[b]A well regulated Militia,[/b] being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

I don't know about you, but in my opinion a well regulated militia implies going through training and knowing how to properly load and use a rifle, and has gone through proper discipline on how to use it and when to use it.

After all, martial artists can literally kill with their hands, however they've gone through years and years of practice and discipline and can discriminate properly. This is where I agree with Molly Ivins in her essay "Get a Knife, Get a Dog but Get rid of Guns" However I think Molly Ivins is wrong about the fact that we're no longer a hunting society. She is, IMO, focusing much too much on the Eastern seaboard cities and ignoring the Rocky Mountain and Backwoods areas that make up the center of country. Also I disagree that getting rid of guns would make the world better. Creating guns was like opening Pandora's box. It's just like abortion, once you make it legal it cannot be made illegal without large consequences.

People who have the proper training and discipline to handle guns IMO should handle them. Having a person like Seung-Hui getting a hold of one just a disaster waiting to happen (which is why society should look to fixing it's social issues because society created Seung-Hui). We have all of these regulations on the people who sell them and in a lot of cases it isn't doing a bit of good.

What I think should happen is we should do what we do with cars, there should be national gun training and licensing centers. It doesn't take away people's rights to have a gun, it just makes sure those handling guns are mentally capable, and disciplined enough to do so. It is turning people into a well regulated militia, by giving them the discipline classes and giving a period of time for people to recognize possible nutcases like Seung-Hui. Sure things like this will still happen (because we haven't really fixed the root of the problem). But it would allow people to gain proper discipline to handle a gun, if they don't receive training from elsewhere, and it would make it harder for people like Seung-Hui to get guns. After going through a program with your state police you could then go out and by a weapon. Also I don't think guns should be available in cities, in the poorer districts. Gun shops can still exist in cities but don't put them where the people will be most tempted to use them/steal them.

That's my opinion on the issue.

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