The killing of innocents always brings out the conflicting feelings in me. I feel rage at the evil that was done and helplessness at not being able to do anything as the horrific drama unfolds.
I feel sorrow for the families of the victims, horror at the suffering the victims themselves must have suffered, and pity for the unmentioned victims, the family of the shooter, for they are victims also in that they well bear his stigma in his coward's death.
But sadly for me, in this day and age, I also feel frustration at the politicians and media (bloggers included) who will spin, promote and demagogue away with this event. What ought to be a shared moment of national sorrow becomes a media circus in what Michelle Malkin has labeled the Blame-the-guns bias watch.
And the sad truth is that as I watched the events unfold, she was totally correct, within hours the first calls for gun control were generated, one at the President's briefing, another in the promos for the MSNBC Scarborough and Country gun control special. ((Hot Air))
I won't say that the topic is not relevant, nor that there may or may not be some merit to it, but have we lost our compassion to the point that we have to trample on the dead while the steam still rises form their corpses in order to "scoop" the story?
And already one alleged false report has surfaced from such hasty reporting, that being the false identification of the shooter: ((Who is "wanusmaximus?"))
The Internet rumor mill, chasing down leads on the identity of the Virginia Tech shooter, has been grinding all day. Allah debunks one of those rumors, which Hot Air received, investigated, and debated this afternoon and evening:
There are some interesting reactions from the blogsphere too. ((source: Michelle Malkin))
Bull Dog Pundit: "In one sentence they say is that it is 'premature to draw too many lessons,' yet they then go on to say that stronger laws are needed over 'lethal weapons,' even though nothing is known about how he got them."
That reminds me of an email conversation with a friend who asked the same question, and offered that how he got the gun made a big difference. I disagree. How he got the guns is a pointless distraction.
Bryan Preston examines how resident aliens can obtain guns.
This dovetails into the rumors he was here on a visa. Let's make sure we roll the immigration issue into it.
I know more than a few faculty, either full-time or adjuncts at various colleges around the country who have carry permits. In those states where the laws allows it, some of them carry on campus. Many of the others would do so, at least when teaching night classes.
Would this have prevented this tragedy? It's hard to say. In most states, about 3-5% of the population eventually get a concealed carry permit. A few carry all the time; some carry frequently; a few carry very seldom. I would not say that there was a strong chance that repealing Virginia Tech's rule, and similar ones around the country, would make a big difference. But it would make a big difference to anyone who survived because one victim could fight back!
And that last sentiment brings me to an ironic editorial.
Andrew's Dad, noting a recent editorial from Va. Tech's university relations vice president arguing against allowing students to carry in self-defense on campus, blogs:
Imagine if students were armed
In an editorial dated Sept. 5th, 2006, Larry Hincker Vice President of University Relations from... wait for it... Virginia Tech, replied to an editorial from Bradford Wiles titled "Unarmed and vulnerable," Aug. 31. The last line of Mr. Hinckers editorial states:
Guns don't belong in the classrooms. They never will. Virginia Tech has a very sound policy preventing same.
Just imagine if students were armed. We no longer need to imagine what will happen when they are not armed.
Update: The original Unarmed and vulnerable commentary has been located.
Bear in mind this was from back in August. How prophetic.
Unarmed and vulnerable
From a Virginia Tech Blog, August 31, 2006
Bradford B. Wiles
Wiles, of New Castle, is a graduate student at Virginia Tech.
On Aug. 21 at about 9:20 a.m., my graduate-level class was evacuated from the Squires Student Center. We were interrupted in class and not informed of anything other than the following words: "You need to get out of the building."
Upon exiting the classroom, we were met at the doors leading outside by two armor-clad policemen with fully automatic weapons, plus their side arms. Once outside, there were several more officers with either fully automatic rifles and pump shotguns, and policemen running down the street, pistols drawn.
It was at this time that I realized that I had no viable means of protecting myself.
Please realize that I am licensed to carry a concealed handgun in the commonwealth of Virginia, and do so on a regular basis. However, because I am a Virginia Tech student, I am prohibited from carrying at school because of Virginia Tech's student policy, which makes possession of a handgun an expellable offense, but not a prosecutable crime.
I had entrusted my safety, and the safety of others to the police. In light of this, there are a few things I wish to point out.
First, I never want to have my safety fully in the hands of anyone else, including the police.
Second, I considered bringing my gun with me to campus, but did not due to the obvious risk of losing my graduate career, which is ridiculous because had I been shot and killed, there would have been no graduate career for me anyway.
Third, and most important, I am trained and able to carry a concealed handgun almost anywhere in Virginia and other states that have reciprocity with Virginia, but cannot carry where I spend more time than anywhere else because, somehow, I become a threat to others when I cross from the town of Blacksburg onto Virginia Tech's campus.
Of all of the emotions and thoughts that were running through my head that morning, the most overwhelming one was of helplessness.
That feeling of helplessness has been difficult to reconcile because I knew I would have been safer with a proper means to defend myself.
I would also like to point out that when I mentioned to a professor that I would feel safer with my gun, this is what she said to me, "I would feel safer if you had your gun."
The policy that forbids students who are legally licensed to carry in Virginia needs to be changed.
I am qualified and capable of carrying a concealed handgun and urge you to work with me to allow my most basic right of self-defense, and eliminate my entrusting my safety and the safety of my classmates to the government.
This incident makes it clear that it is time that Virginia Tech and the commonwealth of Virginia let me take responsibility for my safety.
That is one aspect of the debate that will not happen much in the MSM outlets, but will be in heavy debate in some places like O'Reilly and Hannity, and in the blogsphere.
And also debated, with less vehemence, will be the notion that we as a people as so sheep-ish that we allow one guy to kill people when a group of the potential victims could have easily overwhelmed him.
Lest anyone accuse me of blaming the victim, I will clearly say that in a similar situation I doubt I would be the guy to rush the gunman, the hero in the face of overwhelming odds. I would likely cower in a corner and wait to die. But the reality is that we preach so much non-violence that I sometimes wonder if we are breeding the ability to fight for our survival. Have we become so used to letting the government protect us that we have lost the ability to protect ourselves? It scares me, not just that I might be right, but that the thought occurs to me at all.
I have posted before that I plan to get my carry permit, and this again reinforces my desire to do so. Not so I can necessarily be Rambo in a situation like that, but so that I will at least have the ability to have a choice. With the no gun rules, these students did not have that option.
But then I stop. I realize I am doing it too. Am I so insensitive to the suffering that I can editorialize on the event mere hours later?
As I look at all this, I return to the feeling that too much has been said too soon, and I am complicate.
But hope abounds. People like Ken Schram have historically been on the warpath against guns, and I fully expected him to rally the anti gun forces tonight.
But in his commentary tonight, he seems to also see the idiocy of the early overreactions:
32 people murdered.
29 others wounded.
Honestly, I can't wrap my mind around the enormity of what happened at Virginia Tech.
Others don't seem to have that problem.
I'm dumbfounded by the people who've leaped into this tragedy by ignorantly proclaiming how it could all have been avoided if only more students carried guns.
The lame-brained notion being that if the college kids were armed, one of them could have placed a round between the killer's eyes.
Equally ignorant is the clamor of those who insist that the Virginia Tech tragedy proves that every gun owned by every person in the U.S. should be confiscated and gun sales forever prohibited.
Some news organizations are eagerly fueling the frenzy by offering instant internet polls on what people think should be done.
It's as if 32 dead college students are nothing more than fodder for political points of view on gun control.
The gun nuts versus the anti gun nuts.
And I simply wonder when we lost the social capacity to simply express sadness.
I wonder why we can't put the issues on hold for even a short time and quietly mourn the dead and pray for their families.
I guess maybe there is hope if that guy can take a measured moderate approach. Maybe I will call his show and thank him for that tomorrow. By then I expect his anti gun feelings will be back on track.
But for now, for this moment, he is 100% correct. Tomorrow is a good day for discussions, debates, blame and decisions.
Tonight we should just hold each other's hands and pray. I will close on that note and on this image, which I found at Sister Toldjah.
RIP. God have mercy on us.