Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 18, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

RESPONDING TO TRAGEDY....When we learned yesterday that Cho Seung Hui, the Virginia Tech shooter, had been an "eccentric loner" who had written "disturbing" essays and plays, my heart sank. Here we go again, I thought. It's going to be just like the aftermath of Columbine, when high schools around the country went crazy and started expelling kids who wore too much black, or who wrote compositions too full of teenage angst, or who affected a pose of rebellion that was just a bit too unnerving. It was an insane overreaction to a tragic event, and one that's gone a long way toward virtually outlawing a lot of fairly normal teenage behavior.

But then the stories about Cho started dribbling out, and it turned out he was more than just an eccentric loner. He wrote poetry so disturbing that classmates refused to come to class and he ended up getting one-on-one tutoring. The tutor, Lucinda Roy, says she tried repeatedly to warn campus officials about Cho but was told there was nothing they could do. There were complaints two years ago from female students about harrassment. After the second one Cho was checked into a psychiatric hospital.

In other words, Cho's behavior wasn't merely eccentric. There really are good reasons to think that it might have been possible to do something prophylactic before Cho finally snapped and killed 32 students and professors two days ago. And it's going to be perfectly reasonable to start thinking about ways this tragedy might have been stopped before it ever occurred.

All I can say is: I still hope everyone takes this very, very slowly. There might be lessons we can learn from Monday's tragedy, but our first reactions are almost certain to be wrong. Probably our second reactions too. Whatever we do, let's not make the cure worse than the disease.

Kevin Drum 12:08 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (227)

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Comments

"prophylactic "?

Yeah, it's correct, but what an odd word choice.

Just sayin...

Posted by: raff on April 18, 2007 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Lock-up all the brown people.

Posted by: rusrus on April 18, 2007 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

Hear, hear, Kevin.

I say: if we're really serious about preventing such tragedies, we should be passing laws that will discourage: the writing of plays; angst; "debauchery" and "rich kids"; Korean teenagers; maroon caps; love; buildings with third floors; second shooters; English majors; depression; and the state of Virginia.

Posted by: lampwick on April 18, 2007 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

[handle hijack]

Posted by: Al on April 18, 2007 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

I read Cho's short (9 or 10 pages) one-act play, "Richard McBeef," at The Smoking Gun's Web site.

It was a quick read, a very bad play, very interesting, and very disturbing. Exactly the sort of play you'd expect a disturbed future mass shooter to write.

It's no wonder his professors were concerned about him.

Posted by: Ron Mexico on April 18, 2007 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Psychologists will no doubt take to the airwaves tonight pleading with parents and teachers to look for the warning signs of the next Cho Seung-Hui in their own family and friends.

The language of violence, bestiality and pedophilia in the piece is really disturbing:

"At age ten the madam put the child in a cage with a bear trained to couple with young girls so the girls would be frigid and not fall in love with their patrons. They fed her through the bars and aroused the bear with a stick when it seemed to lose interest...He ased if they should f**k the deer."

Oh no, wait. That's not the Virginia Tech student, that's the work of Scooter Libby.

Posted by: Larry on April 18, 2007 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Dealing with adults who are self destructive is always difficult. Those who are addicted to harmful substances - how much freedom of choice do we give them? This young man was institutionalized - was he on medication? If so, how can society force someone to stay on medication? We pretend that as a society we value freedom of choice but give it away so easily under certain circumstances and yet refuse to do under other equally if not more compelling circumstances.

Posted by: ml on April 18, 2007 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,
You got this one exactly right. Thanks.

Posted by: Ralph on April 18, 2007 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Don't miss the crazy-ass "plays" he wrote for his drama class. The kid was a poster child for school-shooter awareness.

Posted by: Anderson on April 18, 2007 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

There's a story about this in today's SF Chronicle. Very informative.

Posted by: bleh on April 18, 2007 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Quentin Tarantino writes "plays" in which he enjoys, and invites us to enjoy, the mutilation and killing of young women and men. They are okay because Mr. Tarantino is an "ironist." I can't turn on an NBA game without being forced to sit through commercials for torture movies. These are usually less "ironic" but certainly as giddily consumed. We are very, very sick. No Rx on the horizon though.

Posted by: Chukuriuk on April 18, 2007 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

maybe we should consider making stalking an automatic prosecution, like domestic violence.

A criminal record for stalking would have shown up in the required background check.

It sounds like a lot of people in this kids life just passed him off to the next person in line, probably with a sigh of relief.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 18, 2007 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Treatment of the seriously disturbed as a national responsibility was abrogated by Reagan, if we remember. Therapy is now largely voluntary and even stalking is considered rather less seriously than it should be. Consider the number of wives (and often children) who are killed by husbands even after the wife complains about violent, threatening behavior. The police normally respond that the husband had not done anything provably violent, or they have a restraning order, which requires a rational human to obey it.

None of Cho's pathological behavioral traits entered into his ability to buy pistols. Even if they had, he could have obtained them illegally if clever enough. So the question is how to head these folks off at the pass, so to speak, and allow the eccentric but non-pathological to proceed with their lives. I have no solution.

Posted by: Mudge on April 18, 2007 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Ron Mexico wrote: "It was a quick read, a very bad play, very interesting, and very disturbing. Exactly the sort of play you'd expect a disturbed future mass shooter to write."

Or perhaps a future Quentin Tarantino.

"Keep violence in the mind where it belongs."
-- Brian Aldiss, Barefoot In The Head

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 18, 2007 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Al: "I'm always bemused..."

That word also does not mean what you think it means.

Posted by: Kenji on April 18, 2007 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

The guy was not angry all the time, and society distinguishes between those who are creepy and disturbing, and those who present a threat.

It's easy after the fact to talk about why people didn't deal with this guy earlier. Truth is, a person as withdrawn as him will not necessarily share all his violent thoughts. These things are not necessarily as inevitable as our deterministic culture would like to think. We do not always have the God-like foresight we wished we had. These are complex interactions, and we do not always know what people are capable of, just by looking at them.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty on April 18, 2007 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Dear Virginia:

Please stop selling guns to people who have been committed to insane asylums.

Sincerely,

The rest of America

Posted by: anonymous on April 18, 2007 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

mudge, actually that was the ACLU and the Supreme Court. but anyway....of course you'd blame it on Reagan.

Posted by: Nathan on April 18, 2007 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Mudge wrote: "None of Cho's pathological behavioral traits entered into his ability to buy pistols. Even if they had, he could have obtained them illegally if clever enough."

The owner of the gun store where Cho purchased his Glock pistol was quoted as saying that the background check took "one minute". Isn't it comforting to know that a psychopath who has been "checked into a psychiatric hospital" after the second time female students complained of his harrassment can walk into a gun store and walk out with a high-powered semi-automatic handgun and a bag full of ammunition after a one minute "background check"?

Perhaps Cho could have obtained a high-powered semi-automatic pistol and high-capacity ammunition clips (which were prohibited under the Clinton-era assault weapons ban that the Republicans overturned) illegally, perhaps not. Perhaps he would have been caught if he attempted to do that, and the killings would have been prevented. At a minimum, trying to locate and obtain a weapon illegally would have placed one more obstacle in his path to mass murder.

Stricter laws governing the purchase of guns, and governing the kind of guns that individuals can purchase, are not an absolute guarantee that no one will ever acquire a gun and use it to commit crime. There are no absolute guarantees. There are only deterrents that help make it more difficult and less likely for would-be mass murderers to be successful. Stricter gun laws are such a deterrent.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 18, 2007 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

This has been debated continuously for at least the last 40 years. If you had more freedom to detain people who were apprarently violently mentally ill, you would have more freedom to detain political protesters. And if you could have detained Whitman and Cho, you still would have been powerless against McVeigh and that Wall Street bomber in the '20s. We are still actively debating the correct responses to 9/11, and whether the "wall" between domestic and foreign surveillance was too strict in the Clinton years and Bush's first year.

Everything that has been said in the immediate aftermath has already been said before. And to punctuate the debate, so to speak, the mayor of Kyoto was just killed by a gun, in a country with strict gun laws and effective enforcement (well, pretty effective) of the gun laws.

And when the argument is over, we still have the Jeffrey Daumer's of the world, and the Heaven's Gate nihilists.

On a lighter note, another step forward in biofuels:

http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=oddlyEnoughNews&storyid=2007-04-18T135228Z_01_KUA849907_RTRUKOC_0_US-BIOFUELS-ELEPHANTS-ODD.xml&src=rss&rpc=22

Next on the horizon: enzymes from the microflora in the intestines of termites.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on April 18, 2007 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

What happened at VT could conceivably happen at any institution. Part of the problem lies in confidentiality restrictions the University has with regard to students, who are no longer minors. These restrictions prevent faculty from getting information about student mental health history without student permission. It also prevents the university and faculty from discussing the student with his or her parents without student permission. Without the lines of communication open, it is very hard to establish patterns. You need a student services staff who is on top of student files and synthesizing information, and I can tell you this is very hard to find at an institution VTs size. Unfortunately, public universities everywhere are strapped for cash and so are unlikely to increase the staff per student in student services. In the VT case, it seems like faculty advising did the best it possibly could to get this kid help. Unfortunately, faculty are not trained mental health specialists, and have other responsibilities. It should not be laid on us to make sure there is proper follow up.

It would be interested to know the statistics on numbers of college students on psychoactive prescription medication. My informal sense is that it has skyrocketed in the past decade. How are universities managing the mental health issues that are proliferating?

An anecdote: A few years ago I had a student who was writing crazy essays suggesting he took himself to be the supreme authority, harassing his TA, and then harassing me (thankfully only via email). I had to call Student Services persistently to get him called in for a conversation. (I was first told that maybe he just has a problem with women in authority, and I should just cope). I had to alert Campus Security. I even talked to the Human Rights officer (in Canada, harassment can be a human rights violation). I had no way of knowing whether he was having problems in other classes, with other students or faculty. The work it took to get someone to attend to a student that was clearly having mental health issues was astonishing.

Posted by: lisainvan on April 18, 2007 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Columbine happened my junior year of highschool. I had been a big highlander fan since I was 12 and so from 17 on I started wearing trench coats. NOT dusters (like Klebbold and Harris) or Matrix type coats, but business style. Mostly black because it's easier to keep clean.

I collect edged weapons (swords, knives, throwing starts etc.) so naturally my school freaked out, also I was a hispanic in a private white lutheran highschool. Needless to say there were some angry responses from my parents and family.

Long story short, one day I am going to go back to that school when I am rich, donate a tremendous amount of money, and then force them to fire the teacher who brought concerns about me to the school administration.

The best revenge is not physical, but to destroy someone's life as only a rich person can.

Posted by: MNPundit on April 18, 2007 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Let's see, with 20/20 hindsight one of his teachers and some of his classmates are saying they saw signs and they were afraid he would blow. He wrote scary plays. He suffered from depression. He is accused of stalking, but no sign of criminal prosecution. He checked in to a mental hospital. He was treated by a psychologist. It might have been possible for somebody to have recognized the first attack was coming, but not the attack on the classroom building. I don't think we know nearly enough to make any final judgments about Cho, let alone do anything to stop future attacks.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 18, 2007 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

MRM, can I help you with linking?

I really hate copy-and-pastes, and usually skip them. But some of your stuff is actually readable and worthwhile...So learn to link...please!

Okay, off my high horse now...

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 18, 2007 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

MNPundit perhaps you should read the Count of Monte Cristo. Revenge is a large waste of time.

Posted by: Gandalf on April 18, 2007 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Nathan,

I said "treatment of the seriously disturbed" which is different than "casual incarceration of the annoying". Reagan chose to disband the necessary facilities/programs along with the improper ones. Remember, government IS the problem. Even now the Bush adminstration fights treating war trauma of Iraqi veterans.

Posted by: Mudge on April 18, 2007 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Man, it's a sad case. Where were his parents? How could they not notice this kind of behavior? One wonders if just one, determined person could have engaged the kid, and got him some help. The medications for psychiatric conditions, like depression and schizophrenia, are VERY effective - probably over 75% are helped, significantly.

Posted by: luci on April 18, 2007 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

It was a quick read, a very bad play, very interesting, and very disturbing. Exactly the sort of play you'd expect a disturbed future mass shooter to write.
It's no wonder his professors were concerned about him.

Yes--they were concerned because he had no talent whatsoever.

Universities are constantly on the lookout for literary talent. English departments throughout the country are the breeding ground of future literary greats. Virtually all of the books that have been written this year were written by people who went to college and took a significant number of English courses.

I am shocked that this little fellow's work was so badly plotted and thought out. He could have used a bit of irony, some detachment by using one character to comment on what the other characters are doing. A good play has at least one visit from either a horny woman or a man who can tapdance.

Lost in all of the commentary about this person is the fact that he was taking upskirts photos of the gals at Virginia Tech. No word on whether he had a digital camera or a cellular telephone camera or a website where he was able to sort and display these photos. The article merely explains that he was caught taking them.

He had no talent, he was perverted, and they let him have handguns. That's a recipe for disaster if there ever was one.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on April 18, 2007 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

'[I]nsane asylum' sounds like a throwback to 'Bedlam'.

Can we maybe try a term that doesn't sound quite so 18th century. I mean, that reeks of 'loony bin' or other silly formulations.

Psychiatric Hospital.

Posted by: MsNThrope on April 18, 2007 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

And to punctuate the debate, so to speak, the mayor of Kyoto was just killed by a gun, in a country with strict gun laws and effective enforcement (well, pretty effective) of the gun laws. - MatthewRMarler

Last year, there were 54 gun homicides in Japan, a nation with a population of 127 million. In the US, with a population around 300 million, there were some 8000 gun homicides in 2004. The rate of gun homicides in the US, a country with lax gun control, is over 50 times higher than the rate in Japan, a country with strict gun control. This is pretty unambiguous stuff; the only question is whether it is possible to get from where the US is now, to where Japan is.

Posted by: mattsteinglass on April 18, 2007 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

My first reaction was that my first reaction might be wrong. Now I don't know what I think!

Posted by: Zeno on April 18, 2007 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

What happened at VT could conceivably happen at any institution.

But it didn't. It happened at a specific university and in a specific state. A university in which his mental illness and dangerous behavior was allowed to fester and a state in which such things were not an impediment to being able to buy handguns.

He had no talent, he was perverted, and they let him have handguns.

I look forward to the "literary talent and sexual propriety" requirements in the new handgun permit laws.

Posted by: Tyro on April 18, 2007 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Gandalf, actually in the BOOK Count of Monte Cristo, he does pretty well for himself. Goes off into the sunset with the pretty slave girl after wrecking everybody's life. His first love enters a convent.

Anyway...SecularAnimist, you have it exactly right. In the past 6 year we have introduced legislation here in Virginia to restrict gun-buying of those who have been convicted of stalking or domestic abuse. We lost. We've lost every time we try to bring up what we view as commonsense gun laws--like keeping guns off public school property. No, it's not illegal in Virginia. That's why they made such a stink about the Universities being "gun-free" zones.

People keep saying they want to keep guns out of the "wrong" hands, but they are unwilling to pass legislation that would do so. And, yes, this young man could have bought his gun illegally. But he didn't. It could have happened anyway, but shouldn't we try to make it a little bit harder for a mass murderer like this--one who'd raised all kinds of alarms for any number of years--to get his weapon of choice?

Posted by: LAS on April 18, 2007 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin,

**PLEASE DO NOT DELETE THIS POST, I AM POSTING FROM A WORK COMPOUTER, I HAVE NOT HIJACKED THE HANDEL!!! THANK YOU!!!***

So your assessment is that we should go slow?

We've been going slow ever since the liberal rot started infesting this nation, Kevin, to the point where were so PC we can't even raise the issue of this childs nationaility.

We need to revisit our morales in this country, and we need to do it soon before another one of these tragedies happens.

Posted by: egbert on April 18, 2007 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Incidentally, this from Kevin:

Whatever we do, let's not make the cure worse than the disease.

...I take to be a bad moment of infelicitous phrasing. Pretty hard to imagine a cure here that would actually be worse than madmen stalking around slaughtering innocent college students.

Posted by: mattsteinglass on April 18, 2007 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

Psychiatric Hospital.

Funny farm? Bonkers hotel? Freakout facility? Mr. Crazy Pants and his padded room sleepover club?

Posted by: Norman Rogers on April 18, 2007 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

There are several things that require cool rational examination when the emotional grieving is done.

1. Why were the English professors efforts to get police, mental health dept, faculty and staff involved so fruitless. I cant tell you how many articles I have now read where campus police chiefs say the best security is to keep a watch out and report suspicious people. Here was someone pegged by his prof as a potential killer, and her repeated efforts to get someone to act were all fruitless. We need better response systems. I know people will blah blah about no probable cause etc. However campus security people even TODAY are saying the best security is to report people who are acting suspiciously. Here someone did and there was no reaction. I refuse to believe we cannot do better than this.

2. Why was a man accused of stalking and in mental health care in 2005 for violence/suicide allowed to buy a gun? We need better systems to weed out people like this from the instantaneous purchase of guns. Dont get me wrong, I own guns and strongly support the right to bear arms, but a stalker under mental health care should not be able to get a gun. Period. Anyone arguing for his right to buy a gun is truly misplaced in their thinking.

3. Why was the campus not evacuated with two people dead and the shooter on the loose? I have sympathy for police dealing with a chaotic situation but we surely can do better than was done on this fateful day.

Like Gov. Kane, I loathe those who are trying to score political points on any side of the gun divide on this case. However, we need a cold hard look at the foregoing issues and hopefully Kanes commission will look at all of them. I have seen way too many people saying we cant do anything, you cant prevent this kind of thing, and no one did anything wrong. I realize that the tendency of humans is to not review the situation for fear someone will be shown to have done something wrong. But we are a clever species and surely we can, without playing the blame game, rationally look at our systems and try to do better, rather than tell everyone nothing can be done.

Posted by: Jammer on April 18, 2007 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

In the past 6 year we have introduced legislation here in Virginia to restrict gun-buying of those who have been convicted of stalking or domestic abuse. We lost.

Hm...interesting, LAS. Makes it sound like there's actually a voting bloc that sees itself as potentially being convicted of stalking or domestic abuse, and wants to protect its right to buy a gun in that case.

Posted by: mattsteinglass on April 18, 2007 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Like Gov. Kane, I loathe those who are trying to score political points on any side of the gun divide on this case.

I thought the President and Senator McCain did an excellent job of reminding everyone, within hours of the incident, that no one will have their Second Amendment rights abridged, so long as they are in charge of things. You'll notice that none of the liberals running for President stood up and offered to help needy people buy guns to defend themselves. (You may read that last line with the disdain and the snark I intend to go with it.)

Posted by: Norman Rogers on April 18, 2007 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

mattsteinglass, I should note that such spree-shootings hardly ever occur. We are not suffering from a "disease" of madmen stalking around slaughtering innocent college students.

This is, in fact, a similar reason why the ridiculous idea that "if people a VaTech were allowed to carry guns, this wouldn't have happened" is such a stupid line of reasoning-- few people who COULD carry a gun WOULD carry one, because there is little self-defense rationale, since the odds that a spree-killer (or even an armed robber) is going to appear on campus is infinitesimally small.

Posted by: Tyro on April 18, 2007 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

3. Why was the campus not evacuated with two people dead and the shooter on the loose? I have sympathy for police dealing with a chaotic situation but we surely can do better than was done on this fateful day.

The campus covers hundreds of acres with tens of thousands of people living and working in it. It's the equivalent of a small city. You couldn't, and wouldn't, evacuate a small city because there were two shootings and an escaped killer. This was tragic, yes, but it would be simply impossible and an extreme over-reaction to try to evacuate a college campus every time there was an event like this. (And evacuate them to where, exactly, and how? To stand around in the outside as targets?)

Posted by: Stefan on April 18, 2007 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

mattsteinglass, I should note that such spree-shootings hardly ever occur. We are not suffering from a "disease" of madmen stalking around slaughtering innocent college students.

Iraq, on the other hand....think about it this way: Iraq is suffering the equivalant of about a dozen Tech style massacres every single day, in a nation with less than one-tenth our population.

Posted by: Stefan on April 18, 2007 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

maybe we should consider making stalking an automatic prosecution, like domestic violence.

A bad idea because open to abuse. In domestic violence there's a "there" there: one person strikes another. What level of stalking, though, would rise to the level of automatic prosecution? Too many late night drunken phone calls? Making prosecution automatic would remove any ability to exercise discretion, and would put the love-sick girl having a hard time letting go on the same legal level as the determined stalker with the trunk full of rope and a shovel.

Posted by: Stefan on April 18, 2007 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

If someone doesn't want to accept help, it's very, very hard to force it upon them, even with all the well-meaning and hardworking support in the world. And people with serious mental illnesses don't necessarily accept that they're seriously ill and need help. Yes, absolutely there should be more resources available, but even with more resources you're not always going to succeed.

Posted by: DaveL on April 18, 2007 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

mattsteinglass. Here is a cure that is probably worse than the crime.

If you study the statistics you will see that most violent crime is committed by people between the ages of 16 and 29. We should lock up every 16 year old and not let them out until they are 30. That will protect us all. Praise Jesus.

Jammer, You are not real big on "innocent until proven guilty" are you? I understand. You, like all of us, have endured 6 years of Bush rants against the rights of the accused found in the United States Constitution.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 18, 2007 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

maybe we should consider making stalking an automatic prosecution, like domestic violence.

Once again, that doesn't really solve the problem. I'm being serious now--the thing that triggers more violence from men than anything else is to joke about how small a man's penis is. Women who point and laugh take their personal safety into their own hands. That one thing has led to more violence than virtually any other taunt or insult.

You can't really prosecute stalking. And when I was younger, it wasn't called "stalking." It was called "being shy."

Posted by: Norman Rogers on April 18, 2007 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Jammer: "Here was someone pegged by his prof as a potential killer, and her repeated efforts to get someone to act were all fruitless. We need better response systems."

I appreciate your point, but it's not particularly clear what kind of expertise a college professor brings to a discussion about potential killers. She did the right thing by referring this to the police, and one can only assume that the police had access to the writings she had flagged, but the kind of society in which we live -- and the one in which I think we want to live -- requires that we blah blah blah about probable cause.

"Why was a man accused of stalking and in mental health care in 2005 for violence/suicide allowed to buy a gun?"

That's a good question, and maybe somebody who knows about regulations that govern the sale of firearms can chime in. Frankly, it would surprise me if these retailers have access to people's mental health records, so I don't know how they could avoid selling to anyone with a history of mental health issues. How does that work?

"Why was the campus not evacuated with two people dead and the shooter on the loose?"

Police pursued a lead that turned out to be faulty. They immediately located & question the boyfriend of the girl who had been shot initially. Circumstances initially suggested a kind of homicide that doesn't suggest a threat to other people, rather than the random mass murder it turned out to be.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on April 18, 2007 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

"What happened at VT could conceivably happen at any institution.

But it didn't. It happened at a specific university and in a specific state. A university in which his mental illness and dangerous behavior was allowed to fester and a state in which such things were not an impediment to being able to buy handguns."

Actually, it did, and in a country (Canada) with much stricter gun control laws. Six months ago at Dawson College, in Montreal, a student came in and went on a shooting spree. Also, you might recall another shooting on Dec 6 1989 also in Montreal. Marc Lepine specifically directed against 14 women sitting in a classroom.

Gun control laws are certainly an issue here, but they are not the only issue. Stefan asks the right sort of questions above. When faculty do everything they can to get a student help, what part of the university system fails?

Posted by: lisainvan on April 18, 2007 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

If this is true, then, yes, I am sure there were a number of people who probably thought strongly that the guy was a murderer in the making. However, put yourselves in these people's place- what do you do in such a situation? Indeed, what can be done legally by society? Up to Monday, the man had not been convicted of a crime. Involuntary commitments to psychiatric hospitals are hard to sustain for any length of time, especially if the patient is capable enough to fool his doctors. Banning him from campus would have been meaningless.

On the issue of the guns:

Waiting periods for purchase may, or may not, have stopped this rampage, as is true with thorough background checks- it is impossible to say for sure. However a waiting period would be likely to prevent some violence, but then who can be certain that waiting periods would not harm someone else? There are no easy answers when it comes to guns. General bans are not ever going to occur in this country, nor do I think they would be particularly effective at keeping them out of the hands of criminals without surrendering a lot of our civil rights in the process, something I will not do, and I would hope none of you would be willing to do- knowledge of how to manufacture arms is completely disseminated, and the means to make them cannot be banned in any case, nor could you prevent them from flowing in illegally (as they already do to some extent). The real problem, our more violent nature, is deep within our culture itself, and I don't see how you extract it.

And one last thing- one idea that was pooh-poohed on the previous thread, encouraging the meme of fighting back in such situations, is not as ridiculous as some would think. Just because someone is armed with a gun, and you are not, does not make him invulnerable, and you helpless. If only one or two people had had the presence of mind to rush and attack him physically (and this might have had the effect of encouraging others to participate), there may have been a lot fewer dead today. I don't see the logic in encouraging people to wait in fear to be shot- if you can't hide effectively, and you have no avenue of escape, then you must take action to preserve your own life, even if it runs the risk of ending it a minute earlier.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on April 18, 2007 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

I got to deal with two Clancy Wiggums and a Dale Gribble yesterday in the wake of this.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 18, 2007 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

egbert: **PLEASE DO NOT DELETE THIS POST, I AM POSTING FROM A WORK COMPOUTER, I HAVE NOT HIJACKED THE HANDEL!!! THANK YOU!!!***

[snip]

We need to revisit our morales in this country, and we need to do it soon before another one of these tragedies happens.

Wow, eghead. Posting from a work Compouter? Sure that's not a composter, feeding more shit?

No one's accused you of hijacking Handel. He did quite well with that whole music stuff without you.

As far as revisiting our morales, what about Sanchez, and Guttierez? I'm sure they'd love some visitors.

Posted by: bigcat on April 18, 2007 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Police pursued a lead that turned out to be faulty. They immediately located & question the boyfriend of the girl who had been shot initially. Circumstances initially suggested a kind of homicide that doesn't suggest a threat to other people, rather than the random mass murder it turned out to be.

And, as I pointed out above, you can't really "evacuate" a college campus the same way you can evacuate a high school, say. Where and how would you move tens of thousands of people spread out over hundreds of acres?

Posted by: Stefan on April 18, 2007 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

"If someone doesn't want to accept help, it's very, very hard to force it upon them, even with all the well-meaning and hardworking support in the world. And people with serious mental illnesses don't necessarily accept that they're seriously ill and need help."

DaveL is exactly right about this, and anyone who's been in the awful position of trying to -- for lack of a better way of putting it -- get someone committed knows how difficult it is to persuade relevant authorities that that person is a harm to him/herself or others. That process, alone, is maddening.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on April 18, 2007 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

I'm very puzzled by people like Egbert who feel that the the ethnicity of the shooter is somehow relevant to the issue. Is there some hidden idea that South Koreans, or asians in general, have an innate proensity to blow away 30 or 40 people at random every now and then? How many white people have done this in the past as opposed to blacks or asians? Is it a property of ethnicity or is it a property of mental illness? The reality of the situation is is that a young person who was obviously disturbed for a long time received no help in resolving his illness.

I also wonder at the media who find it neccessary to find a local "representative" from the South Korean community to be interviewed about the reaction of the community. Do they expect them to say "Whitey got his at last"? They disn't know him or his family.

We had a neighbor who once threated to shoot us while the police were there to investigate a bogus complaint he made against us. They took the 5 or 6 guns from his house and put him into a hopsital for psychiatric observation for 48 hours. He was out within 6 hours through the legal intervention of his nephew, an attorney. Needless to say, we moved soon after. By the way, he was a half-blind old white guy. Perhaps we should watch them.

Posted by: Neal on April 18, 2007 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Yancy Ward

Your last point is entirely correct. If you can't get away and you have every reason to believe the guy is going to shoot, you shouldn't wait meekly to be shot. Attack him. Better to die a lion than a sheep. As you attack it is harder for him to hit you than if you stand and wait. You might die, but you will probably save the lives of others around you. If you stand there, everybody dies.

How many lives did the Israeli professor save as he blocked the door? He was an old man, but he was a survivor of violence up close and personal. He knew what he could do. If the stories I read are accurate, he did good.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 18, 2007 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Your comments couldn't be more irrelevant, mhr.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on April 18, 2007 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

After the second one Cho was checked into a psychiatric hospital.

That would have been enough to prevent him from legally purchasing a gun in IL. If you've been in a mental institution in the last, iirc, 5 years, you're not getting your FOID card.

It's time for VA to stop handing out guns to people with mental illness. Currently the best VA can muster is to draft legislation to "develop educational materials concerning the possession of firearms in homes occupied by a mentally ill person."

Even worse, some nut in the VA House wants to stop VA Tech and other Universities from prohibiting guns on campus.

Posted by: Disputo on April 18, 2007 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers, no one knows for a fact that they will be the ones to die. People generally will attempt to maximize their probability of living rather than guarantee that they will die.

I doubt that anyone "stood there." They likely ducked, ran, and tried to do what they could to avoid being shot.

Posted by: Tyro on April 18, 2007 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

But liberals did not promote a similar approach when the story of the alleged Duke rape broke.

Um, yes, I did. A lot of parents of college-age boys did, of all political persuasions.

Now, what did that comment have to do with the topic of the thread?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 18, 2007 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

If only one or two people had had the presence of mind to rush and attack him physically (and this might have had the effect of encouraging others to participate), there may have been a lot fewer dead today. I don't see the logic in encouraging people to wait in fear to be shot- if you can't hide effectively, and you have no avenue of escape, then you must take action to preserve your own life, even if it runs the risk of ending it a minute earlier.

Yancey Ward, ladies and gentlemen.

I'm sure we're all in awe of your rugged individualism, Yancey. But perhaps you can help me -- please cite to an example of someone in these threads ridiculing the idea of fighting back, and not John Derbyshire's disparaging the courage of the slain without knowing whether they had fought back or not.

For that matter, do you know that none of the dead did not, in fact, try to fight back?

Shame on you, Yancey.

Posted by: Gregory on April 18, 2007 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

"If you can't get away and you have every reason to believe the guy is going to shoot, you shouldn't wait meekly to be shot. Attack him. Better to die a lion than a sheep."

I hope I'd be able to find that kind of courage, Ron Byers, but I can't know that I would. I think it's harsh, though, to suggest that those who were shot were meek lambs.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on April 18, 2007 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and Yancey?

The idea of an unarmed person subduing someone aremd with one gun, let alone two, is ludicrous. Memo to Yancey: Life is not a bad kung-fu movie.

Posted by: Gregory on April 18, 2007 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Let's see, with 20/20 hindsight one of his teachers and some of his classmates are saying they saw signs and they were afraid he would blow.

Cho's fellow student who now works for AOl and posted Cho's violent plays says that his second reaction after hearing about the massacre was that Cho did it. (His first reaction was to worry about his friends.) That's not 20/20. Based on Cho's past behavior, the guy know he was the perp before he was IDed.

Posted by: Disputo on April 18, 2007 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Tyro

I have read that several were killed execution style. Given the high death rate it is very likely many of the victims were shot in the head. There is the report of the custodian who confronted Cho, he ran as fast as he could Cho shot at him 5 times and missed. He felt the bullets fly past his head. It's hard to hit a moving person in the head.

The guns we are talking about are a 22 and a 9mm. Both are considered weak personal defense rounds. Some police departments use the 9mm but that is because they are light and easy to use, and because the don't penetrate as much as more powerful rounds. There are lots of stories about suspects not going down immediately after being shot with several 9mm rounds.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 18, 2007 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

It seems there were only two agents unaware of Cho's mental state: the campus administration, who didn't want to know, and the gun vendor, who didn't care.

Posted by: ogmb on April 18, 2007 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Good Ford, Ron: If you can't get away and you have every reason to believe the guy is going to shoot, you shouldn't wait meekly to be shot.

If memory serves me right, the US Army has long studied the reactions of men under fire, and found that the instinct to take cover -- a very sensible one, I might add -- is extremely hard to overcome. Despite all their training, armed, trained soldiers very frequently freeze under fire.

These were college kids, attacked in separate groups, by someone carrying not one but two guns who, I heard on the radio, put at least three rounds in each of his victims.

On top of that, I don't think we know no one tired to stop him. We do know that either way, those who weren't able to flee mostly wound up dead.

Shame on you for implying these kids were cowards.

Posted by: Gregory on April 18, 2007 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

There are lots of stories about suspects not going down immediately after being shot with several 9mm rounds.

The ones I've seen were pretty much all chemically assisted.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 18, 2007 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

I have read that several were killed execution style. Given the high death rate it is very likely many of the victims were shot in the head.

What Cho did was go around putting additional bullets into people that were already dead or dying. I've seen no report that he lined people up and shot them in the head.

There is the report of the custodian who confronted Cho, he ran as fast as he could Cho shot at him 5 times and missed. He felt the bullets fly past his head. It's hard to hit a moving person in the head.

Running down a hallway away from a shooter is much different than being a sitting duck caught in a classroom with no exit but out the window.

Posted by: Disputo on April 18, 2007 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory, one gun or two is irrelevant, but you are right, unless you are Jet Li, you are not going to subdue a man with a gun. You might save others.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 18, 2007 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

"You might save others."

Extremely noble. No argument. But that's not the thought going through most people's minds in that kind of situation.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on April 18, 2007 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Shame on you for implying these kids were cowards.

I second that.

Posted by: Disputo on April 18, 2007 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

The ones I've seen were pretty much all chemically assisted.

The stopping power of a 9mm sucks, compared to, say, a .45, but that isn't because they "don't penetrate as much as more powerful rounds;" it's because they do -- they punch right through a person.

And if you're claiming a .22 round can't be deadly, you might want to contact the makers of the .223-caliber M-16. A .22 round often doesn't exit, it's true; it fragments inside the body.

For pity's sake, Ron, the guy tagged each victim three times apiece, and his guns killed plenty of people. You'll note there were more fatalities -- 32 -- than surviving wounded -- 29.

Ron, I respectively submit you don't know what the hell you're talking about.

Posted by: Gregory on April 18, 2007 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

The .22 is commonly used for head-shot executions because it only penetrates the skull once. Then it bounces around, fragments and finishes the job if the initial shot wasn't enough. A larger caliber goes out the other side and leaves a lot bigger hole exiting.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 18, 2007 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

I want to know how many rounds the clips held, and I want to know what kind of ammo he was using? The high death rate might be due to fragmenting bullets. The things they haven't told us are the things I really want to know.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 18, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory, one gun or two is irrelevant

No, it isn't. For one thing, it makes Derbyshire an idiot for suggesting they wait til he reloaded -- he may always have had a loaded weapon (and that's leaving aside the extended clips he was said to have used), especially since he seems to have reloaded in the halls. For which reason, as well, the students didn't have a lot of information, even as to the number of assailants.

but you are right, unless you are Jet Li, you are not going to subdue a man with a gun. You might save others.

Ron, we'd all like to think we would rise to the occasion, and Professor Librescu did save students lives by buying them time to escape, but again -- on what basis are we even claiming that no one fought back? And that aside, it's completely asinine to suggest that these kids were somehow at fault for exhibiting a reaction the US Army isn't able to completely train out of its own soldiers.

The ones who survived did so by playing dead, getting out of the building or by sitting tight in rooms he hadn't gone to and waiting for the cavalry to arrive. You've offered no evidence at all that attacking this SOB would have accomplished anything -- in fact you admit that life isn't chop socky film bullshit.

You know, the Chinese tried what you suggested once. I suggest you Google the Boxer Rebellion to educate yourself of the efficacy of attacking gun-toting men barehanded.

Please, think before you post.

Posted by: Gregory on April 18, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

The owner of the gun store where Cho purchased his Glock pistol was quoted as saying that the background check took "one minute".

VA only requires the federally mandated instant background check, doesn't allow the police extra time to do a real background check, and provides no cooling off period.

Posted by: Disputo on April 18, 2007 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

I want to know how many rounds the clips held,

I read somewhere that it was 30 rounds in each extended clip.

Posted by: Disputo on April 18, 2007 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

BGRS wrote: The .22 is commonly used for head-shot executions because it only penetrates the skull once. Then it bounces around, fragments and finishes the job if the initial shot wasn't enough. A larger caliber goes out the other side and leaves a lot bigger hole exiting.

If memory serves me right, the same effect occurs in the chest cavity -- there are all these ribs and spinal bones to ricochet off of and turn internal organs into chop suey.

And again, the death toll is obvious evidence that the .22 was no laughing matter, for pity's sake.

Posted by: Gregory on April 18, 2007 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

The ones who survived did so by playing dead, getting out of the building or by sitting tight in rooms he hadn't gone to and waiting for the cavalry to arrive.

There were also those four(?) kids who survived the initial slaughter in the German class and then subsequently barricaded themselves in the room and successfully prevented the shooter from entering a second time (after he left presumably to reload).

Posted by: Disputo on April 18, 2007 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

I may not the first person to notice this but last year on May 8, 18-year-old Centreville resident Michael Kennedy went on a shooting rampage and killed two police officers at the Sully Police Station in Chantilly, Virginia, before police shot him dead.

The Sully Police Station is just a short distance from Westfields High School where Cho Seung Hui, the VT shooter, went to high school. In fact, Westfields HS went into lockdown immediately as the tragedy at Sully Police Station unfolded.

And just two weeks ago on April 6 the FBI arrested Michael's father, Brian, for illegal possession of firearms. The arrest was covered widely in all the media.

It's quite a coincidence that two multiple- murderers would hail from the same small suburb. Description of the two young, disturbed men sound eerily familiar. Here's a description of Michael Kennedy from a recent Associated Press article:

"Kennedy's family and friends said he had a history of psychological problems, and his parents had tried repeatedly to get help for him at mental health facilities in the area."

Could the recent arrest of Kennedy's father have influenced Cho's state of mind?

A few other observations:

1) Cho bought his guns on his own. No one knew he had them on campus. Michael Kennedy's guns belonged to his father. So I don't know if a 5-year wait period for gun purchases by former hospitalized psych patients would ultimately work, but it might work in some cases and is definitely worth considering.

2) Virginia tech is a huge, industrial-looking campus. They talk about how difficult it is to lock down, that it takes time. That may well be, but the experience at Westfields HS shows that lockdowns can be done quickly and effectively during times of crisis. Who knows what might have happened if Michael Kennedy fled to the HS after shooting up the police station? At least the HS was locked.

3) VT's large size may have permitted Cho to fall through cracks in the system. Clearly some people recognized his problems, but he was able to remain more or less anonymous amidst 22,000 people. That would have been a lot harder to do on a smaller campus, say like a William and Mary. Colleges need regular, personal contact with students outside class. Cho hadn't attended his English class in a month. Did anybody check up on him?

4) Why wasn't Cho placed on leave after two reports of sexual harrassment and commitment to a psychological hospital? This may not have solved VT's problems -- what's to keep a disturbed outsider from coming onto any campus? And you don't want to get into legislating what people are permitted to think (Bush and Cheney have been trying that), and you don't want to discriminate against people with depression and mental illness (think: Van Gogh). But it is perfectly reasonable to expect students to uphold certain standards of behavior if they want to be part of a college community.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on April 18, 2007 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

VA only requires the federally mandated instant background check, doesn't allow the police extra time to do a real background check, and provides no cooling off period. Posted by: Disputo on April 18, 2007 at 2:54 PM

Disputo, Cho bought his first gun in February. Which means he was planning this for months.

A 'cooling off period' would have had absolutely no effect on this incident.

And no, he was not using extended clips. But he did go to a shooting range and practice rapidly changing clips according to one interview I saw last night.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on April 18, 2007 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

If memory serves me right, the same effect occurs in the chest cavity -- there are all these ribs and spinal bones to ricochet off of and turn internal organs into chop suey...And again, the death toll is obvious evidence that the .22 was no laughing matter, for pity's sake.

No gun is a laughing matter. All guns are potentially lethal. I recall a toddler dying after being hit with a CO2 pellet gun.

And yeah, there is a lot of opportunity for a .22 to bounce around in the thoracic cavity.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 18, 2007 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

This country has absolutely lousy mental health services AND a vast cultural conditioning against taking mental health issues seriously.

Posted by: fiat lux on April 18, 2007 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

No gun is a laughing matter. All guns are potentially lethal.

I'm accustomed to offensive, chest-thumping wish fulfillment bravado from cowardly, dickless conservatives, but Derbyshire's post really pissed me off. Yancey Ward displaying his rugged individualism by agreeing, of course, comes as no surprise, but shame on anyone who agrees with such drivel.

If you're going to externalize your own feelings of inadequacy, don't do it at the expense of those poor kids, fucktards.

Posted by: Gregory on April 18, 2007 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, and apparently Ryan Clark, who was one of the two casualties in the dorm, was going to the aid of the female victim.

And Derbyshire pissed me off too. I could almost stand 75 yards back and kick up dust in front of him and see if he keeps charging toward the gunfire, or looks for cover. And I wouldn't even be trying to kill him. Just testing his mettle.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 18, 2007 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

fiat lux,

Excellent point. My company's health plan offers no coverage for mental illness.

Counselling is very expensive out-of-pocket. Hui complained about rich kids -- his family's economic situation may have made psych counselling a difficult option.

Also, in many families and cultures emotional problems are simply not acknowledged. Cho was obviously suppressing a lot of anger, which finally burst through beyond his control. You wonder how long he had these thoughts --

Posted by: pj in jesusland on April 18, 2007 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

In fact, I think that is a stellar idea. Derb should make arrangements with a police department to don body armor and protective gear and prove his intestinal fortitude and v-log it.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 18, 2007 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Disputo, Cho bought his first gun in February. Which means he was planning this for months. A 'cooling off period' would have had absolutely no effect on this incident.

*sigh*

1) I was stating a fact about VA law, not suggesting that it would have effected Cho. It is interesting how itchy the trigger fingers are of the pro-gin crowd to jump on anything that can be spun to excuse VA's lax gun laws.

2) What I've read indicates that one purchase was in March, the other in April (we at least can thank VA for not allowing mass purchases). I have not read anything about a Feb purchase.

3) Regardless of when the guns were purchased, I have seen no evidence that Cho was planning this for months, unless you are suggesting that simply purchasing a gun is proof of intent to commit a future crime.

Posted by: Disputo on April 18, 2007 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

In fact, I think that is a stellar idea. Derb should make arrangements with a police department to don body armor and protective gear and prove his intestinal fortitude and v-log it.

I'd pay money to see that.

Posted by: Gregory on April 18, 2007 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

That's really interesting parallel, pj -- I had no idea.

"They talk about how difficult it is to lock down, that it takes time. That may well be, but the experience at Westfields HS shows that lockdowns can be done quickly and effectively during times of crisis."

Clearly, it's far easier to lock down a solitary building like a high school than it is to lock down a campus of this size. I'm not sure that your parallel here makes much practical sense.

"VT's large size may have permitted Cho to fall through cracks in the system. Clearly some people recognized his problems, but he was able to remain more or less anonymous amidst 22,000 people. That would have been a lot harder to do on a smaller campus, say like a William and Mary."

I'm not sure what you're suggesting here -- that we do away with large, public universities? Anyway, random violence like this happens at smaller settings -- rural high schools, office buildings -- with enough frequency to render this point moot.

"Why wasn't Cho placed on leave after two reports of sexual harrassment and commitment to a psychological hospital?"

I'm sure policies differ among institutions, but taking surreptitious photos of girls' panties in no way predicts what happened here. As to your latter question, you actually answered it yourself.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on April 18, 2007 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not running toward gunfire, unless it's away from a burning fire. Period.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 18, 2007 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

"It is interesting how itchy the trigger fingers are of the pro-gin crowd to jump on anything that can be spun to excuse VA's lax gun laws."

What do you have against the pro-gin crowd???

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on April 18, 2007 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

In the mid-seventies, I had a disturbed student who wrote something similar to "Richard McBeef" (soon to be on YouTube performed by actors good and bad). I took him physically to the counsellor, who took him to the hospital. He was back the next week.

Two years ago, a deranged student shrieked out in class "Kill him" when I put a conflict resolution problem to the class. He did not even get a visit to the hospital because everyone in Admin was so worried about rights, procedures, lawsuits, etc.

Such is progress.

Posted by: Bob M on April 18, 2007 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Ok, I checked and Dr. M is correct that the current reporting is that Cho got his handguns in early Feb and March.

I also hadn't heard before that his Feb purchase was apparently made over the internet. So, in VA you can purchase guns over the inet? How charming.

Posted by: Disputo on April 18, 2007 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Chauncey:

1) On lockdowns: All the recently built or renovated elementary schools in our area have a) modern PA systems and b) key locks on classroom doors. Something that would have been relatively easy to do would have been a campus-wide broadcast saying "Lock all classroom doors. Intruder on the premises." That wouldn't have prevented Cho from shooting up the Campus Commons, but it may have helped.

2) On college anonymit: the University of Vermont, with 9,000 students, breaks up the university into seven smaller colleges with lots of faculty-student interaction (lunch, colloquia, etc.). Lots of thematic living residences, not just massive dorms. Fewer opportunities for troubled kids to hide out alone.

3) On codes of conduct: I'm no psychologist, but seems to me depression & mental illness often manifest themselves with bizarre behavior toward the opposite sex. I say zero tolerance for sexual harassment. Bring accusers and accused before a board of their peers for consideration of appropriate responses.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on April 18, 2007 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not running toward gunfire, unless it's away from a burning fire. Period.

Amen to that. Only bozos keep suggesting that anyone would or should do otherwise. As for the holocaust survivor, my understanding is that he didn't rush the guy while he was firing, but that he blockaded the door before the guy got to the room, and was killed while preventing him from entering. Although quite heroic, that ain't the same thing as tackling a guy who is shooting at you.

Posted by: Disputo on April 18, 2007 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

What do you have against the pro-gin crowd???

I prefer vermouth.

Posted by: Disputo on April 18, 2007 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

First versions of "Richard McBeef" already on YouTube. More to come. Unfortunately, it is too good to let go. I wonder if if the big comics will deal with it and the other play.

Posted by: Bob M on April 18, 2007 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

"Next on the horizon: enzymes from the microflora in the intestines of termites."

?? Why would you think that'd give you much of a leg up compared to T. reesei, which has been worked on for donkey's years by NREL, Novozymes, Genencor as a cellulase source?

Posted by: No Longer a Urinated State of America on April 18, 2007 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting that our Police State can lock up "terrorists" like the pathetic "Florida Seven" and the "Dirty Bomber" indefintely on the basis of what they allegedly were conspiring to do even though none of these hapless morons had the least chance of ever carrying out their potential "terrorist acts."

Yet though this Virgina Tech shooter gave off all kinds of alarms and fit to a T the prototype of a mass killer, nothing could be done about detaining him or even getting him into treatment. I used to be in the mental health field and there was a clear concept that applied to people who were a danger to themselves or others. They could be hospitalized against their will for a brief period but for enough time to evaluate them at least. I know because I had to do it a few times. Our values and our priorities are so screwed in this society it's mind boggling.

Posted by: R.T.Tihista on April 18, 2007 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

R.T.,

Mentally ill people have rights, too.

Having gone through the recent struggle of getting the drivers license and check signing priveleges taken away from my mom with Alzheimers I have more of an appreciation as to why these rights exist.

Cho was very unusual because he wasn't physically hurting himself or anyone else up to the shooting -- only thinking about it. Once you start making peoples' thoughts illegal where does it stop?

I say deal with the less violent stuff more seriously, like with turnstile jumpers in NYC. People who harrass their female classmates probably have other issues.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on April 18, 2007 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Can we maybe try a term that doesn't sound quite so 18th century.

Like cracker factory or laughing academy.

I AM POSTING FROM A WORK COMPOUTER

A thing that automatically compouts for you? The stuff you can buy these days. The automatic compouting would explain so much.

Norman, And when I was younger, it wasn't called "stalking." It was called "being shy."

Which led to the phrase, 'He seemed like such a shy kid.'

Posted by: cld on April 18, 2007 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

. . .described by those who encountered him over the years as at times angry, menacing, disturbed and so depressed that he seemed near tears. . .

Days later, seven of (Nikki) Giovanni's 70 or so students showed up for a class. She asked them why the others didn't show up and was told that they were afraid of Cho.

He regularly seemed so depressed he was near tears and 63 out of 70 in the class don't show up because they were afraid of him.

That would sound to me like he had caused a significant disruption.

Posted by: cld on April 18, 2007 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

April is the cruelest month. But why? Why do these horrendous massacres always seem to happen in April? Any theories?

Posted by: mackdaddy on April 18, 2007 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

I went ahead and blogged my challenge to Derbyshire

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 18, 2007 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory,

Derbyshire did not disparage the courage of the victims, nor did Ron Byers or myself (I don't doubt for a second that I would have been pissing my pants)- we are asking why people don't defend themselves when cornered. This isn't a question of courage, it is a question of what is your best option for living when trapped with a maniac armed with a pistol. What happened on 9/11 is partially applicable here- I have never considered the people on Flight 95 to be courageous definition, but facing certain death without action, they took the only option open to them to live- why isn't this option taken in situations like Monday's?

I have read no reports of people fighting back, and the nature of the killings suggests that no one tried, however, that is irrelevant to my point. As you wrote, the fear involved is difficult to overcome, but we should encourage people to do so if faced with similar circumstances. Spreading the meme that it is futile to oppose someone who is armed, and that you are trapped with, is not useful. Most people probably have not given any thought to such scenarios and are unprepared to act accordingly, it will probably even be true that most will still be unable to do so when in peril, but hopefully, in the future, more and more will be able.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on April 18, 2007 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Ok, the shooter did have a court record, of sorts:

Cho Seung Hui, then 21, was taken to a hospital in nearby Christiansburg, Va. on the night of Dec. 13, 2005. But, after a doctor reported that Cho denied having suicidal thoughts, a court magistrate ordered him released for outpatient treatment, court documents show.
The order, signed by Montgomery County, Va., Special Justice Paul M. Barnett, checked a box that said Cho "presents an imminent danger to himself as a result of mental illness." But Barnett checked another box that said involuntary hospitalization was not necessary.

So, a judge found that Cho "presents an imminent danger to himself as a result of mental illness" (although subsequently releasing him), and yet the state of VA allowed this man to purchase guns little more than one year later?

Like I said before, Cho would have never been allowed to legally purchase guns in IL with that record. It's a shame that VA instead opts to hand out guns to those with mental illness.

Posted by: Disputo on April 18, 2007 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Yet though this Virgina Tech shooter gave off all kinds of alarms and fit to a T the prototype of a mass killer, nothing could be done about detaining him or even getting him into treatment.

There is no single prototype of a mass killer -- none, that is, that wouldn't bring in millions of Americans. If we're going to start detaining all the angry, quiet loners with delusions of grandeur, well, we may as well start rounding up all the Young Republicans and move on from there.

Posted by: Stefan on April 18, 2007 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

I hope all of the parents of the deceased are able to find comfort during this troubling time.

I know the Korean-American community was huddled together in fear and shame last night. I hope there is not too much of a backlash against them.

Posted by: Brojo on April 18, 2007 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

we may as well start rounding up all the Young Republicans and move on from there.

I think you might be onto something...I'll get the torches, you get the pitchforks. We'll meet in San Diego.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 18, 2007 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

There is no single prototype of a mass killer -- none, that is, that wouldn't bring in millions of Americans.

There is no single criterion with which to diagnose any mental illness. All mental illnesses are diagnosed based upon a cluster of symptoms. This guy was exhibiting symptoms right and left.

Posted by: Disputo on April 18, 2007 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Derbyshire did not disparage the courage of the victims, nor did Ron Byers or myself

Congratulations on the most blatant -- and blatantly obvious -- lie you've told in these forums, Yancey.

And congratulations on giving us yet another reason not to take you seriously.

Posted by: Gregory on April 18, 2007 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

CNN is reporting:

Cho Seung-Hui in 2005 was declared mentally ill by a Virginia special justice, who declared he was "an imminent danger to others," a court document states.

The owner of the gun store where Cho bought his Glock pistol was quoted on CNN yesterday saying that the background check took "one minute".

A man who was declared "mentally ill" and "an imminent danger to others" by a court was able to walk into a gun store and buy a semi-automatic pistol, one or more high-capacity ammunition clips, and a bag of ammunition -- with a "one minute" background check.

Yes, stricter gun control laws must be "off the table", because "everyone must accept" that it is an "immutable fact" that the USA is a "gun-saturated society", and advocacy of stricter gun control laws will condemn the Democratic Party to permanent minority status, even though Gallup Polls conducted on a regular basis since 1990 have always found that clear majorities of Americans (on average, 62 percent) are in favor of stricter laws governing gun purchases.

So it goes.


Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 18, 2007 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

OMG. We now know what Cho was doing in between the two sets of killings -- he was emailing a multimedia presentation of his grievances to NBC.

Ah, the youtube generation....

Posted by: Disputo on April 18, 2007 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

I agree that it should have been a hell of a lot harder for him to obtain those weapons. I have talked to a couple of people who have maintained that at least those "god-damned to easy to get Virginia guns were used in Virginia this time."

And the stupidity of their lax gun laws does temper the sympathy when the state is so god-damned pathologically stupid about their gun laws.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 18, 2007 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

Yancey Ward wrote: As you wrote, the fear involved is difficult to overcome, but we should encourage people to do so if faced with similar circumstances.

Memo to Yancey: Movies, TV and comic books aren't real.

As I pointed out, the US military trains its soldiers rigorously "to do so if faced with similar circumstances," and still can't always overcome the instinct to duck and cover. I know that as a ruggedly individualist individual, you completely lack empathy, but are you also completely ignorant of human nature, in addition to being terminally dense?

Spreading the meme that it is futile to oppose someone who is armed, and that you are trapped with, is not useful.

Yeah -- spreading the opposite meme worked out so well for the Chinese during the Boxer Rebellion. So sorry if it pisses you off that reality trumps your little fantasy world, but you should realize by now that such is your lot as a oony libertarian.

As for the Flight 93 heroes, they were facing men armed with knives, they had time to plan, and they were well aware that they were doomed if they didn't do anything. There's simply no comparison to a college student shot within moments of obeying the instinct to duck, and frankly, sir, you're an asshole to bring it up, and an even bigger asshole to cast aspersions on the victims of this tragedy.

Yancey Ward, ladies and gentlemen.

Posted by: Gregory on April 18, 2007 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Since Gregory has taken it upon himself to shout at me I feel compelled to respond.

First, I am not talking about charging anybody holding a handgun from 75 yards. Your best chance is to run away. Your best chance is to run away from a shooter at 75 feet. Just run away. If you have ever fired a handgun you know just how hard it is to hit a moving target at 75 feet.

Second, the victims in this case were truly victims. They were surprised. The noise of a gun going off in a confined space is shocking enough to stop most of us from moving. I am not blaming the victims.

All I am saying is if some guy is 7.5 feet or closer and he is shooting at people, and you still have your wits about you, your best chance is to go at him, and that isn't a very good chance. In fact it is piss poor, but it is better than running at an angle or diving under a table and waiting for him to walk quietly up to you and blow your brains out.

Again I am not blaming the victims. All of them confronted something most of us will never experience. Most of them had never experienced the noise of a handgun going off in a confined space. They really shouldn't be expected to be able to react. Truth be known, I probably would have frozen as well.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 18, 2007 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

It is very disturbing to learn this boy could have been helped, or at least prevented from becoming a killer, with minor changes to gun control laws.

Posted by: Brojo on April 18, 2007 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

Secular, do you have a link to the CNN report?

All I can find is that the judge found he was a danger to *himself*. (Not that that shouldn't be sufficient to deny him access to guns.)

Posted by: Disputo on April 18, 2007 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

Well, they could at least hold up the sale of weapons in that state long enough to check the veracity of the answers provided on the buyers questionnaires. At least. Good god. (**shaking head incredulously**)

Even though they do come off as cold-hearted when they make that "keepin' it in Virginia" assertion, those folks are uncomfortably right.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 18, 2007 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

Disputo: "do you have a link to the CNN report?"

Yup:

http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/04/18/vtech.shooting/index.html

I quoted the first paragraph as it appeared on CNN's website at 5:05PM. That first paragraph has now been edited to read as follows:

Cho Seung-Hui in 2005 was declared mentally ill by a Virginia special justice, who declared he was "an imminent danger" to himself, a court document states.

Here's an additional relevant passage from the CNN report:

A temporary detention order from General District Court in the commonwealth of Virginia said Cho "presents an imminent danger to himself as a result of mental illness."

A box indicating that the subject "Presents an imminent danger to others as a result of mental illness" was not checked.

In another part of the form, Cho was described as "mentally ill and in need of hospitalization, and presents an imminent danger to self or others as a result of mental illness, or is so seriously mentally ill as to be substantially unable to care for self, and is incapable of volunteering or unwilling to volunteer for treatment."

A handwritten section of the form describes Cho. "Affect is flat and mood is depressed," said the order, which was signed December 14 by Special Justice Paul M. Barnett. "He denies suicidal ideation. He does not acknowledge symptoms of a thought disorder. His insight and judgment are normal."

Evidently CNN's original account of that court document was not entirely accurate.

Nonetheless I find it appalling that an individual who had been judged by a court to be "mentally ill and in need of hospitalization" was able to walk into a gun store and walk out with a high-powered semi-automatic weapon and a load of ammunition after a "one minute" background check.

Of course if he had bought it at a gun show then there wouldn't have been any background check. And he could easily have bought much more powerful weapons.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 18, 2007 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

I can't believe I'm agreeing with Disputo and SA. Maybe the freeze over in hell is why it's taking so long to warm up this spring.

Given what we're hearing about this kid's psychological history, there's no way he should have been allowed lawful access to firearms.

He might have still acquired them on the black market illegally or killed lots of people via other means...but the inability of Virginia and healthcare in the US in general to adequately deal with mental illness is a fuckin blight on this country. If anything good comes out of this, maybe that'll change.

Posted by: Sebastian-PGP on April 18, 2007 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

It takes exceptional training to get people to move towards a firing weapon, especially when surprised. Even people in the military, with the exception of the elite or very, very, experienced (think WWII vets who saw months of combat), will not tend to do what is required when ambushed, which is to attack in the direction of the weapons being fired. And they have weapons with which to fire back.

Wondering why unarmed college students on what appears to be, until all hell breaks loose, a normal Monday morning, don't act like Rangers or Marines who become recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor is a bit naive.

Posted by: Will Allen on April 18, 2007 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Excellent article at Time.

Posted by: cld on April 18, 2007 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

I very rarely agree with Will Allen, but that was well said and well written.

Posted by: Stefan on April 18, 2007 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

Well said Will Allen.

(Yes, I am feeling a chill.:)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 18, 2007 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

In the US mentally ill people who don't want treatment (and some who do) don't get treatment. In the US mentally ill people with suicidal tendancies can waltz into a gun store and walk out with a killing machine capable of snuffing dozens of people in less than a minute. As long as these weapons are available, one of these incidents will occur every few years. Banning them would eliminate fun for thousands of enthusiasts who enjoy firing their assault weapons at the local gun club.

Posted by: bakho on April 18, 2007 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, the best advice I heard from any "expert" in the wake of this awful massacre was that a thick leather belt is an excellent tool with which to jam a door shut. Of course, this requires pre-planning; I'd certainly never thought of that.

Posted by: Will Allen on April 18, 2007 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

While I can't disagree that someone who had been committed/declared a danger should have ever been able to buy those guns, I'm not sure it would have saved lives in the end. If he really did plan ahead far enough to do things like chain the doors, he could have killed as many as he did with a few bucks of gasoline.

Posted by: tavella on April 18, 2007 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

No one is going to read this far down, but...

I know people like this guy. People that need friends, need help, and need honesty. Maybe he was really nuts - but I know people who otherwise would be 'normal' treated by a society that won't reach out.

What kind of campus can you run around inside a building and kill people without a people standing up to it? Barring doors does nothing for your neighbors (The Administration in Bagdad should know that) and while it may save your skin, it doesn't save anyone else's.

Really, he was privately tutored? He needed to know how to talk to people, not be shuttered out. That at least is true.

And the law said he wasn't supposed to have a gun. Who cares? We know the law is useless without training, licensing, and 'community standards'.

This really just makes me want to reach out to more socially troubled people and try to help them.

Posted by: Crissa on April 18, 2007 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

he could have killed as many as he did with a few bucks of gasoline.

Certainly; the kids would not have been able to escape out the windows as Cho was shooting flames at them.

Good lord, if fire was as efficient a killing tool as guns, then the NRA would be competing for members with the National Arsonists Association.

Posted by: Disputo on April 18, 2007 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, the best advice I heard from any "expert" in the wake of this awful massacre was that a thick leather belt is an excellent tool with which to jam a door shut. Of course, this requires pre-planning; I'd certainly never thought of that.

Can you explain further? I'm having trouble visualizing how that would work.

Posted by: Disputo on April 18, 2007 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I haven't tried it, obviously, but the "expert" said that the belt can rolled or folded, and then jammed between the door and the floor, preventing the door from being opened. It seems possible to me, although it likely would be wise to practice it; attmepting to do something requiring manual dexterity for the first time, as someone with bad intent approaches with firearm, squeezing off rounds, is not a recipe for success.

Posted by: Will Allen on April 18, 2007 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

It might be nice if people could deal with their feelings of inadequacy arising from this tragedy without pissing all over these poor dead kids.

All I am saying is if some guy is 7.5 feet or closer and he is shooting at people, and you still have your wits about you, your best chance is to go at him, and that isn't a very good chance. In fact it is piss poor, but it is better than running at an angle or diving under a table and waiting for him to walk quietly up to you and blow your brains out.

Ron, you simply do not know what you're talking about. Yancey Ward might complain about it, but an unarmed person simply is not going to win a fight against someone who's carrying one gun, let alone two, and determined to do damage.

And, again, we don't know -- we may never know -- if some of these poor kids did try to resist.

I just heard one of the survivors on the radio. Like everyone else, he hid under a desk, and as it happens he never got hit, for reasons he knows he'll never understand. And I think he's one of the bravest people I've heard from in a long time, the chest-thumpers at the Corner notwithstanding.

And yeah, I agree with every word Will Allen posted at 5:54 pm. Mirabile dictu.

Posted by: Gregory on April 18, 2007 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

Good lord, if fire was as efficient a killing tool as guns, then the NRA would be competing for members with the National Arsonists Association.

And unless you have a flamethrower fire isn't exactly portable, and it's not quite as easy to conceal as a handgun.

Posted by: Stefan on April 18, 2007 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

A can of Aqua-Net and a bic lighter makes a pretty adequate portable and concealable flamethrower.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 18, 2007 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

If I'm attacked with a gun, that overrides my pacifist nature.

If I'm with more than one person, I'm going to attempt to subdue the assailant. Maybe I'll die now instead of living - but at least I'll do something, if only being a meatshield for someone else.

Of course, not everyone has faced blood and trauma and knows how they will react to it, I will admit.

But it's better to tell people that when cornered, it's perfectly acceptable to work as a group to live.

Posted by: Crissa on April 18, 2007 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

NPR just played a part of the audio tape Cho sent to NBC.

Posted by: Disputo on April 18, 2007 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Kevin's instinct to take it slow. There are also couple of good posts in a similar vein over at Andrew Sullivan's site.

That said, a couple of things -

-Automatic prosecution of stalking - very, very tough to do. "Stalking" as a layman's term is pretty vague\undefined. In legal terms, I suppose if you really nailed down the elements of the crime in the enacting legislation, it might be possible, but certainly not easy, or not subject to abuse.

-Making anything "automatic" in the legal system frequently has unintended consequences. To pick a related subject, the Lautenberg Ammendment was enacted with the laudable goal of keeping guns out of the hands of those seemingly more likely to murder their spouse\partner, ie those convicted of domestic violence. Great. Unsurprisingly, it's caused no end of trouble, because there's no differentiation between types of domestic violence or purpose in using firearms. What that means in practice is that anyone, not just a wife beater, but anyone with any kind of a conviction, e.g. a drunken fistfight between non-sexual roomates, an order of protection issued as part of a judge's (very reasonable) excess of caution in a nasty divorce, etc means that someone not only can't buy guns for hunting\protection\sport\whatever anymore, but they also can't be a cop\soldier\whatever. Which leads to all kinds of nastiness, and ultimately makes the law more arbitrary, because no good cop wants to jam up someone they THINK is an otherwise good guy\girl. No one wants to fix it\tweak the law because then they're soft on domestic violence.

-There is absolutely no way, and I mean NO WAY, that a liberal democratic (small l, small d) society is going to have an easy time dealing with mental illness. It can involve infringing on an adult's freedom. There's a stigma. Not everyone is violent, or easy to identify outside of a healthcare setting. Plus the treatment is expensive, often difficult to deliver, and can be difficult to assess for efficacy. This is all true regardless of the structure of a nation's health care system. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try to figure out what works, but don't expect it to be a matter of getting past one particular political or cultural hurdle.

-There are all kind of issues associated with saying that we should have some sort of checks associated with those that have been institutionalized. Don't expect any easy answers there. The closest thing I can think of is some sort of a database of involuntary committments\Baker Act (?) holds, grouped in with the other background checks required for a firearm purchase (or certain other matters). Disputo kind of touched on this. But before anyone says "Great Idea!". I can think of several major, troubling problems with this. Probably managable if you only retained the records for limited period of time. Not a slam dunk thing, though.

-Regarding the student's reactions - some of the remarks I've heard about sound contemtible, though I haven't exactly done a thorough survey over at The Corner. I'd love to think that in that situation I'd have it together enough to assault and give myself and others a better chance. Honestly, though - if I was in what should have been a completely non-threatening classroom situation like those kids were, even with relevant training, it would take either divine intervention or the neurons firing just right that day for me to be assured of getting it right. Hell, fill those classrooms with the hardest, most dangerous, well trained men in the world (Delta\CAG\JSOC, Brit and Aussie SAS, etc), and some significant percentage of them might not have reacted correctly. If complete shock is achieved - it's very, very tough to beat quickly. Again - that's given "sitting in an uneventful morning class - psycopath walks in and starts shooting". In different situations - some degree of warning of what's coming, and training, leadership, and motivation does help you "run towards gunfire", and battle drill after battle drill helps to beat the "combat shock" out of you. That's why cops and small units train so hard, and why cops often seem on edge. That's not the situation those kids found themselves in, though.

-As awful as this was, looking for simple fixes or policy answers here would likely be a mistake. I'm somewhat relieved that I'm not hearing alot of that. This kind of event is so awful that it almost has to be treated as an outlier, regardless of the issue.

Posted by: hotrod on April 18, 2007 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

Very well put, Hotrod. Very well put indeed.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 18, 2007 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

Given what we're hearing about this kid's psychological history, there's no way he should have been allowed lawful access to firearms.

Pretty much what we were trying to tell you yesterday, you pathetic and (non) threatening asshole.

There is not reason why he should have been allowed to purchase a firearm--oh, wait. What were we ALSO telling you yesterday?

The Commonwealth of Virginia has taken a defiant stand against all neighboring states in the Northeast and has decided to set itself up as the source of guns used in crimes and murders throughout the region. Virginia gun sellers laugh and have "Bloomberg" raffles to mock NYC mayor Bloomberg and his efforts to STOP the flow of handguns into NYC. Virginia is one of the easiest places in the country to buy firearms. Drive out from Washington DC and you find NRA headquarters right by the freeway in a prominent corner of Northern Virginia. Virginia recently passed a law making it illegal for law enforcement to conduct stings against gun sellers. And on and on and on.

Perhaps now you'll just shut the fuck up. Have enough shame and self awareness to do so? Didn't think so.

Posted by: Some perspective for you on April 18, 2007 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory,

Wallowing in self-rightous indignation, you failed to read my whole comment. This is the last paragraph. "Again I am not blaming the victims. All of them confronted something most of us will never experience. Most of them had never experienced the noise of a handgun going off in a confined space. They really shouldn't be expected to be able to react. Truth be known, I probably would have frozen as well."

If you had read all that I said, you would have realized I agree with Will Allen as well.

I usually like your comments well, but on this topic you have allowed your emotions go get in the way of your thinking.

I saw some of the NBC tapes. Cho was far worse than a young loner filled with angst and rejection.

Based on his tapes he was nothing less than psychotic. He should have been hospitalized years ago. They shouldn't have let him loose. That's my diagnosis from 2000 miles away, and by Frist I am sticking to it.

If we hadn't essentially shut down almost all the inpatient mental health facilities a generation ago, he might still be there and the 32 victims might still be alive. That is the scandal. To save a few bucks, and in the name of freedom, back in Reagan's day America turned nearly all the mentally ill loose.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 18, 2007 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

That's my diagnosis from 2000 miles away, and by Frist I am sticking to it.

I sooo needed the laugh I got from that.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 18, 2007 at 8:23 PM | PERMALINK

Can we stop second guessing the students?

You have a professor who warned everyone as to what this young man was about. You have students terrified of him. You have him stalking women and taking inappropriate photos. You have example after example of horrific violence and misguided emotions that are expressed in the most obscene and inappropriate manner. You have anti-social behavior. You have hospitalization and treatment for depression. You have the young man on anti-depressant medication. Thanks to the relaxed and laissez-faire laws of Virginia, he gets a Glock and he gets hollow point ammunition after a one minute background check.

Now, what the fuck does any of that have to do with the victims and their reaction time and their ability to disarm a shooter? Absolutely fucking nothing.

Posted by: Some perspective for you on April 18, 2007 at 8:28 PM | PERMALINK

Being a liberal and all, I am loathe to speak for anyone else without their consent, so I will just speak for myself here. I, for one, have been all over the emotional map on this, and I know I have been casting about for answers and any scrap of anything that can make sense of it all.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 18, 2007 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK

Some perspective for you: I have been appreciating your comments on this. Thank you for coming out of the lurkers shadows.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 18, 2007 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

BG, For more take a look at the new post on your blog Watching Those We Chose.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 18, 2007 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

Our blog - I'm one of 20 over there. No more and no less than anyone else...:)

And off to take a look now...

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 18, 2007 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

That is a really good post, and everyone should real it. So here is the link

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 18, 2007 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

-Automatic prosecution of stalking - very, very tough to do. "Stalking" as a layman's term is pretty vague\undefined. In legal terms, I suppose if you really nailed down the elements of the crime in the enacting legislation, it might be possible, but certainly not easy, or not subject to abuse. -Making anything "automatic" in the legal system frequently has unintended consequences.

As I said above:

What level of stalking, though, would rise to the level of automatic prosecution? Too many late night drunken phone calls? Making prosecution automatic would remove any ability to exercise discretion, and would put the love-sick girl having a hard time letting go on the same legal level as the determined stalker with the trunk full of rope and a shovel.

Posted by: Stefan on April 18, 2007 at 9:13 PM | PERMALINK

Some perspective:

You cite some good points about what people knew about Cho's mental state, but most of it was unknown to the pawn shop owner who sold a very polite Mr. Cho the gun.

Which suggests information stovepipes hinder good policy and good decisions implementing that policy. Just like when the 9/11 terrorists were pulled over for a traffic violation when they had immigration irregularities. The cops simply didn't know.

Also, a recent (as in last week) court case heard in the Eastern District Federal Court, Ting-Yi Oei vs. Fairfax County Public Schools, makes the point that Aisans are under-represented in administrative positions in Fairfax County Public Schools. Aisans collectively make up 18 percent of the population in Fairfax county but only 1-2 percent of the school principals.

In other words, there are few role models for Aisan students in the County's revered public schools. Not that role models can't be black, Hispanic or caucasian, but the underutilization and marginalization of Asians in school administration ought to be a concern.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on April 18, 2007 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK

You are, of course, correct Stefan.

I am doing a lot of casting about right now, and I hope no one pens any legislation based on anything I have contributed to these emotional threads.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 18, 2007 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

My son, who was diagnosed the year before with depression, which runs in our family and was getting treatment and his grades flew upwards and he bacame alot more outgoing, got the next year the Columbine treatment at his high school.
At the time, theocrats were gaining a toehold (though a few years of them, people threw them out). Since Eric had this diagnosis it did not matter he did a personality turn around and was like a regular kid. He had depression so, he must be driven away. He dropped out his senior year. He could not take the harassment and since the good teachers were also run out and theocrat style ones came, it became impossible.
But, this is how America is. They go so far overboard on everything, and have not learned at all about moderation. Or addressing the real problems. Like mental illness. Depression is treatable and not a stigma. Look at Mike Wallace, ect. But, this country is so afraid to even admit to mental illness and look at it head on, we will continue to have this problem.

Posted by: vwcat on April 18, 2007 at 9:37 PM | PERMALINK

you failed to read my whole comment. This is the last paragraph. "Again I am not blaming the victims.

Sorry, Ron, but disclaimers that you aren't blaming the victims when you're claiming that they should have attacked the gunman -- even though you admit they had next to no chance of success, and furthermore don't even know whether any of the victims did try -- doesn't wash. If you don't like being judged by what you actually write as opposed to your disingenuous disclaimers, then maybe you ought to reconsider what you write.

Posted by: Gregory on April 18, 2007 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

on this topic you have allowed your emotions go get in the way of your thinking

Um, Ron, I suggest it's the other way around. I see clearly that the possibility of an unarmed person subduing Cho -- especially given his seeming psychosis, to say nothing of packing not one but two pistols -- makes any tut-tutting comments that they should have fought back entirely, and I do mean entirely, inappropriate.

It's normal to regard this kind of tragedy, wonder how we'd react, and hope we'd rise to the occasion. But as much as Yancey Ward might object to having his movie-inspired fantasy bubble popped, an unarmed individual is simply not going to prevail over a well-armed person determined to do harm, *especially* when caught unprepared and with no time to plan or coordinate a defense.

So again, Ron, I suggest it's you who are letting your emotions get the better of your thinking when you continue to defend your statement, when everyone else on this thread seems to have dropped the subject.

Posted by: Gregory on April 18, 2007 at 9:46 PM | PERMALINK

egbert: We've been going slow ever since the liberal rot started infesting this nation, Kevin, to the point where were so PC we can't even raise the issue of this childs nationaility.

He was an American, same as David Ho of the Aaron Diamond Research Center; or Jack Xin, Knut Solna, and Ivan Soltesz of the University of California at Irvine; or Ruey Tsai of the University of Chicago.

Same as Charles Whitman and the Columbine boys.

Posted by: spider on April 18, 2007 at 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

"Good lord, if fire was as efficient a killing tool as guns, then the NRA would be competing for members with the National Arsonists Association."

Chemical explosives more or less = fire.

There are lots of ways to kill people more efficiently than guns. See: Baghdad.

"Pretty much what we were trying to tell you yesterday, you pathetic and (non) threatening asshole."

Go fuck yourself. When did I ever say that mental cases deserve firearms?

Fucking keyboard commandos...they never get old. Same predictable nonsense. Same willingness to taunt and act the fool from the safe confines of the keyboard.

"The Commonwealth of Virginia has taken a defiant stand against all neighboring states in the Northeast"

Bullshit. VA's laws are in line with all neighoring states except MD...which is the second most violent state in the Union give or take. The stricter the gun control laws...the more violent the state.

"and has decided to set itself up as the source of guns used in crimes and murders throughout the region"

VA is less violent than NJ, MD, NY, CT, MA, and DC. If the ability to buy guns readily creates violence...why is VA itself so non-violent by comparison on a per capita basis?

The inability of idiots like you to address that question speaks volumes. Cue dissembling and non-answers from Mr. Lack of Perspective.

"Drive out from Washington DC and you find NRA headquarters right by the freeway in a prominent corner of Northern Virginia"

Strangely enough you don't hear about muggings and massacres in this area. Go figure!

Maniacs purposefully choose areas where they know they'll find a large group of unarmed, helpless victims.

"Virginia recently passed a law making it illegal for law enforcement to conduct stings against gun sellers"

BULLSHIT!!!!!

The law made it illegal for NON-law enforcement to conduct stings. Law enforcement can still conduct stings.

You can't even get basic facts like that correct. Idiots like you are why gun control is a political loser...even when you're being honest you're still obviously lying.

Posted by: Sebastian-PGP on April 18, 2007 at 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

I see that Sebastian is reprising his violent threats from last night, showing for one and all once again that gun nuts should indeed be prevented from owning firearms.

This time I'll be saving a copy for posterity.

Posted by: Disputo on April 18, 2007 at 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory,

I didn't let it drop? You just used two posts to passionately defend yourself.

Move on, there is too much about this topic requiring real examination to waste our time day dreaming about what might have happened.

We need to spend time thinking about what did happen, and what could be done to prevent future episodes. In this case there is something we can all get behind. I just read an article entitled Guns and mental illness make lethal combination published December 2, 2005, in the Lynchburg News & Advance. http://www.newsadvance.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=LNA/MGArticle/LNA_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1128768477375&path= "In 29 states, a person with a serious mental illness can purchase a gun from a licensed dealer.

"That’s ridiculous. Guns and schizophrenia don’t mix.

"Consider these examples. In Alabama, a man who had been committed to mental institutions at least twice killed two police officers with a rifle he bought on Christmas Eve. In Texas, a woman hospitalized five times bought a shotgun at a Wal-Mart and killed herself. In New York, a schizophrenic shot and killed a priest and parishioner during Mass.

"And yet since 2002, Congress has failed to pass legislation requiring states to give the FBI a list of people who should not be able to buy weapons because of mental illness.

"Federal law prohibits the sale of guns to the mentally ill, but if their names are not in a database for background checks, the law has no teeth. Gun dealers don’t know they are selling weapons to people who are very likely to harm themselves or others because their names are not in the database."

I am still checking, but from reading Representative Carolyn McCarthy's site I think that might still be the situation.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 18, 2007 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

I can see it now.

In a year, after Sebastian shoots up a classroom of first graders before killing himself, there will be interviews with people who knew him explaining that they could see he was crazy, that he would walk around mumbling to himself, that he loved guns just a little too much, even going to the extreme of putting up a website glorifying his love of guns, and would go into an uncontrollable rage anytime someone disagreed with him, threatening them with harm, but the law just wouldn't let them institutionalize him, much less prevent him from acquiring weapons.

Posted by: Disputo on April 18, 2007 at 11:19 PM | PERMALINK

Sebastian-PGP is correct and I am wrong; THIS is the law signed by Governor Kaine:

Saturday, March 24, 2007
Illegal gun purchase bill signed

RICHMOND -- New York City officials may have a harder time targeting Virginia gun dealers under legislation signed Friday by Gov. Tim Kaine.

Kaine signed House Bill 2653, which restricts "straw sales" of guns such as those some Virginia dealers allegedly made to undercover private investigators hired by New York City. The transactions were cited in lawsuits the city filed last year against gun dealers in Virginia and four other states alleging they sold firearms illegally. City officials have accused the gun dealers of selling weapons that later were used to commit crimes in New York.

The bill, sponsored by Del. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Prince William County, prohibits anyone but law enforcement officers from trying to make an illegal gun purchase from a firearms dealer. A violation of the law would be a felony with a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Lingamfelter said the bill will protect law-abiding firearms dealers from being targeted by someone trying to persuade them to make illegal sales.

"We can't have a situation where people are running stings just for the fun of it," said Lingamfelter, who blasted New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg for going after Virginia firearm dealers.

"If Mayor Bloomberg wants to reduce crime in New York City, he might consider expanding the police force rather than trifling with the rights of law-abiding citizens," Lingamfelter said.

Sebastian PGP is absolutely correct; and the Virginia law is meant as what? A big

F U C K Y O U

To the people of the Northeast, particularly New York City, where guns purchased in Virginia have been killing people for years.

Thanks for bringing that to EVERYONE'S attention, Sebastian PGP--everyone should know that the Commonwealth of Virginia just loves selling guns to people.

Posted by: Some perspective for you on April 18, 2007 at 11:25 PM | PERMALINK

Distupido:

Since when is telling an adversarial dillweed to fornicate himself a violent threat? You've gotta be a real pantywaist to feel threatened by that. Pull SecularAnimist's johnson from your gullet and get a clue.

"In a year, after Sebastian shoots up a classroom of first graders before killing himself"

That's a good one! There are 80mil plus gun owners in the US, all but a scant minority are never accused of any crime at all let alone a violent one...but because I don't subscribe to your pointless belief that prohibition of guns is more likely to succeed than prohibition of drugs, booze, gambling, prostitution, or anything else I'm going to kill people?

You're a really sick fuck.

It does show how little you know about me. Unlike anonymous cowards like you, anyone who clicks on my info gets my email, my home address, my phone number, and sees what I do on a daily basis.

Between volunteering at the local animal shelter, being in charge of the local development committee that's renewing an entire neighborhood here in Baltimore, building a biodiesel plant to promote biofuels, and holding down a six digit day job...I'm a busy dude. But pretty sure I don't fit the mold you're trying to pigeonhole me into.

Now then...anonymous cowards who Freud pointed out exhibit the classic signs of sexual immaturity and emotional retardation like you...I can see your ass associated with blowing shit up.

Fucking keyboard cowards...you really are amusing.

Posted by: Sebastian-PGP on April 18, 2007 at 11:33 PM | PERMALINK

Where did that law originate?

Here's some more background:

New York City Sues 15 Gun Dealers in 5 States, Charging Illegal Sales
By DIANE CARDWELL
Published: May 16, 2006
Testing a novel strategy in its aggressive campaign against illegal firearms, New York City sent teams of private investigators posing as gun buyers to stores in 5 states, catching 15 dealers making illegal sales, officials said yesterday.

An investigator buying a gun in South Boston, Va., as part of a sting operation aimed at the sources of guns used in New York crimes.
In the two-month sting operation, which city officials and gun control advocates said was the first of such wide scope, teams of operatives wearing hidden cameras traveled to Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia to make what are known as straw purchases, a violation of federal law in which one individual submits to the required federal background check for a gun that is clearly to be used by someone else.

All 15 dealers, whose guns have been linked to more than 500 crimes in New York City from 1994 to 2001, improperly sold a gun to the private investigators, officials said. The evidence is to be used in a lawsuit against the dealers filed yesterday in Federal District Court in Brooklyn and is being shared with federal law enforcement agencies.

"Our suit offers clear and compelling evidence that guns sold by these dealers are used in crimes by people ineligible to own a gun far more frequently than guns from other dealers," Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said at a City Hall news conference announcing the operation. "In other words, these dealers are the worst of the worst."

In January 2001, a 12-year-old boy playing with a semiautomatic handgun from Mickalis Pawn Shop in Summerville, S.C., accidentally shot someone in the chest, officials said. It was one of 49 guns from the store linked to crimes in New York City. That year, one of 42 such guns sold by A-1 Jewelry & Pawn in Augusta, Ga., was used in the attempted murder of uniformed police officers.

The lawsuit seeks monetary damages from the 15 dealers and the appointment of a special master to monitor their sales closely. City officials said they might also ask the court to shut the gun businesses down.

The evidence collected is being shared with the Justice Department, including the United States attorneys with jurisdiction over the dealers, and with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, an agency that Mr. Bloomberg has said has been "asleep at the switch" in policing gun sales.

The operation is one of the steps the Bloomberg administration has adopted after seeing some of its efforts against the gun trade sputter. Since his second term started this year, Mr. Bloomberg has been outspoken on gun trafficking and has tried to focus national attention on the issue, coordinating with other mayors, pursuing lawsuits against gun manufacturers and lobbying Congress not to pass what he calls "godawful bills."

For instance, Congress has already limited the city's ability to obtain new data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives tracing the origin of guns used in crimes and is considering bills that would essentially make those limits permanent.

- - - -

Notice something in that article? It talks about the US ATTORNEYS.

Question for anyone who gives a damn: Does anyone really think--

And let me switch to ALL CAPS

DOES ANYONE REALLY THINK A US ATTORNEY IS GOING TO AGGRESSIVELY ENFORCE THE FIREARM LAWS AND SHUT DOWN GUN DEALERS, GIVEN WHAT WE NOW KNOW ABOUT THE POLITICIZATION OF THE US ATTORNEYS IN THIS COUNTRY?

Pardon me for using all caps, but I think that's a pretty good fucking question.

Posted by: Some perspective for you on April 18, 2007 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

"Sebastian PGP is absolutely correct;"

Yup, I'm correct. The law doesn't impede law enforcement at all. It just says billionaire Republican assholes can't hire private citizens to INTENTIONALLY break the law in VA for the sake of fulfilling the mayor of NYC's twisted agenda. Go figure!

Blaming VA for NYC's violence problem is like blaming wine merchants for drunk driving.

Once again--VA is one of the safest states in the union, despite their gun laws. Why should their citizens suffer a decrease in personal freedom because NYC assholes can't behave themselves?

If the mere presence of guns created violence, why is MD so much more violent than VA?

Posted by: Sebastian-PGP on April 18, 2007 at 11:37 PM | PERMALINK

Ron, this is getting tiresome.

I didn't let it drop?

No, you didn't. You said you felt compelled to defend yourself.

You just used two posts to passionately defend yourself.

No, I used to posts to rationally attack your own errors.

Move on, there is too much about this topic requiring real examination to waste our time day dreaming about what might have happened.

Which is why it's inappropriate to wonder why the students didn't fight back against the gunman -- but it's you doing that, not me.

Now, if you agree that it really isn't appropriate to say that the slain students could have, let alone should have, defended themselves or attacked their killer, we have nothing more to discuss.

Posted by: Gregory on April 18, 2007 at 11:45 PM | PERMALINK

Fucking keyboard cowards...you really are amusing.

No so amusing as seeing you piss your pants making threats to people who really are not afraid of you, have no interest in making juvenile threats, and who can pretty much figure out exactly who and what you are based on your demographic information--freely revealed by you on a public blog thread.

Let me put a little "analysis" to work.

Between volunteering at the local animal shelter, being in charge of the local development committee that's renewing an entire neighborhood here in Baltimore, building a biodiesel plant to promote biofuels, and holding down a six digit day job...I'm a busy dude. But pretty sure I don't fit the mold you're trying to pigeonhole me into.

Baltimore--limited to the Central Maryland area in scope.

biodiesel plant. How many can there be in the development stage? Google can help, but why not call the folks in Annapolis and find out who's building or developing a plant in the biodiesel field? Get the list.

Cross reference--you're making six digits. That eliminates a few hundred people, revealing you to be at the executive level. The website for the biodiesel company probably has you on a contact or biographical sketch page. Maybe you're a point of contact for some aspect of the business.

Now, which neighborhood? Well, one that has a "local development committee." You serve on it. No, my mistake--you're in CHARGE of it. Thank you for limiting the search and revealing a position you actually hold and the title of that position! Really appreciate the help. Your name is on a list. Call the city of Baltimore and determine the extent of the renewal projects and claim to be interested in joining whichever neighborhood you're working in. The city of Baltimore isn't too helpful, usually, but a little persistence might help.

Animal shelter? Hmmm. There's probably fifteen to twenty of them. Which ones take volunteers? Call and find out.

Get the picture? Keep making threats. You're nowhere near as anonymous as you think you are. And, quite foolishly, you decided to brag. Good for you.

Posted by: Some perspective for you on April 18, 2007 at 11:45 PM | PERMALINK

I know that in IL if you suspect that someone who has an FOID card has a mental illness, you are encouraged to report it to the State Police.

I wonder what the policy in MD is. A print out of this and the earlier threads with his violent threats should be sufficient to get Sebastian flagged.

Some Perspective, let me know when you get his specifics. My guess, though, is that the guy has created a fake persona. He is way too paranoid to give out identifiable details.

Posted by: Disputo on April 19, 2007 at 12:07 AM | PERMALINK

"Now, those folks might be helpful!"

The plant we're planning is going to be quite a sight larger than 500K gal a year.

Posted by: Sebastian-PGP on April 19, 2007 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK

I'm not trying to be anonymous. Anybody who reads my blog can follow what I do, where I live, what I'm up to, and where I stand on issues related to my little corner of the world.

Blogging under your real name? Making threats on blogs?

No way you could be that stupid.

Oh, wait...

Sebastian Blanco? Cold? Warm?

Posted by: Some perspective for you on April 19, 2007 at 12:09 AM | PERMALINK

"Now, those folks might be helpful!"

The plant we're planning is going to be quite a sight larger than 500K gal a year.

Posted by: Sebastian-PGP on April 19, 2007 at 12:09 AM | PERMALINK

Wow-dressed in all black.

Morrissey sang "I wear black on the outside because black is how I feel on the inside."

Head shaved.

Definitely looks like a wuss to me. Nice combat boots.

No, you can make threats all you want. It's all good for a laugh.

Hope the good deeds continue. Hope you make up for whatever empty hole you have inside that makes you violent, confrontational and full of vitriol and hate.

Meanwhile, Virginia keeps selling guns that are killing people in NYC and keeps laughing about it.

Nice...

Posted by: Some perspective for you on April 19, 2007 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK

[Best not reveal so much. That could be less than wise]

Posted by: Sebastian-PGP on April 19, 2007 at 12:18 AM | PERMALINK

I suspect he is setting someone else up.

This guy needs to be permabanned.

Posted by: Disputo on April 19, 2007 at 12:22 AM | PERMALINK

"Best not reveal so much. That could be less than wise"

Mod: Thanks for the concern, but I spend my weekends as a community activist in the most violent big city per capita in the United States.

Maybe I'm somewhat inured to the dangers of this world, but facing what I voluntarily face pretty regularly...I guess anonymous hate email and spam from people who don't like my politics doesn't make me quake in my boots.

I'm a member of the Guardian Angels...I'm used to being confronted by people who talk a lot of nonsense. :)

Posted by: Sebastian-PGP on April 19, 2007 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

I'm not addressing this to Sebastian, because he is clearly insane, and I don't engage in dialog with insane people.

Last night Sebastian made a specific violent threat against a specific person on this blog. This is a crime in many jurisdictions, and is especially frowned upon in the wake of the threats against Sierra. Tonight he continues to show how rage filled he is with his grotesque violent threatening language, bizarrely reminiscent of Cho's plays.

This is the last man who should own a weapon.

Of course Sebastian doesn't understand any of this, because gun nuts are by definition insane, and unable to comprehend reality, and go around making threats against others like normal people say "hello".

Posted by: Disputo on April 19, 2007 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

According to one commenter, Disputo, you just described me.

Apparently by some peoples metric, I am a gun nut, to be feared, and possibly in need of a sturdy cage.

(Of course, I have my own metric that I apply to the fringe elements on both right and left.)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 19, 2007 at 12:36 AM | PERMALINK

Don't shoot!

Posted by: Brojo on April 19, 2007 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

I think of you as well informed and educated and involved.

Posted by: Brojo on April 19, 2007 at 12:43 AM | PERMALINK

Sebastian-PGP*

Sir, you have confounded these liberals and raised their hackles. You have flung a flaming sweatsock into their beehive and now they will come after you. Did you or did you not put your home address up on the screen? It's gone now; Kevin Drum has some wild-eyed moderators who serve as interns for the magazine up all night, reading every comment and looking for profanity.

You, sir, are a kindred spirit. You're not afraid to tell a liberal where to stick it. I'm old, I'm just 65 as of a few months ago, and I don't have the stomach for such confrontation anymore. One of these liberals threatened to call the New Hampshire state police on me after I bragged about pushing a man down a flight of stairs--his wheelchair scratched my Lexus SUV. IT WAS A HOOT--and a joke, of course. But these liberals like to raise a fuss.

I will submit to you, sir, that the good people of old Virginny need an image makeover. They need to make noise about caring about guns and then, of course, do nothing. That's how you outwit liberals. You make a speech, you get it into Mother Jones, you talk about it for three news cycles, then nothing happens and they move on to their next pet peeve. Clinton did it all the time; to wit, you no doubt see the delightful welfare state he created in places like Philadelphia and Bawl-more.

You, Sebastian are a champion of the conservative cause. May your flag fly forever.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on April 19, 2007 at 12:43 AM | PERMALINK

"Last night Sebastian made a specific violent threat against a specific person on this blog"

No, I merely suggested in strong terms that it's pretty easy to call someone a weakling from the relative safety of a keyboard, and that strangely enough people don't often do the same within earshot of me. Funny how that works.

That's not a threat. A threat would be "I'm going to harm you." Pointing out that it's a lot easier to verbally abuse someone anonymously over the intarweb than face to face is merely a statement of fact. To the extent I was unclear or crude about it...my apologies to the powers that be here.

"Tonight he continues to show how rage filled he is with his grotesque violent threatening language,"

Like? Who have I threatened tonight?

I'll threaten this: the more you continue to lie about me and act like a spoiled child...the more I'll continue to point out what a boob you are. Hehehe.

Posted by: Sebastian-PGP on April 19, 2007 at 12:46 AM | PERMALINK

I'm not getting involved with this guy either.

I guess what gets me is that I've never heard anyone who does community work on a regular basis, even ones who work in the hardest situations feel the need to justify his/her existance to this degree and to be so violently confrontational. Even, or maybe especially, the hardest nuts feel no need for all this in your face self-congratulation. Seems a little against the grain. Maybe that's what's scary.

Posted by: notthere on April 19, 2007 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

I'll threaten this: the more you continue to lie about me and act like a spoiled child...the more I'll continue to point out what a boob you are. Hehehe.

A spoiled child? That's the best you can come up with? What kind of insult is that?

I would expect a man of stature to think of something a bit more on the creative side. "Spoiled child" is a bit lame and weak, sir.

Best work on your insults. If you're going to post here, a little talent and consideration is in order. You don't want to prattle on and make a rank amateur fool of yourself.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on April 19, 2007 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

Norm...gotta love ya, but are we kindred spirits? Can you accept that I "waste" my time helping animals get adopted? That I own a bunch o' guns but haven't hunted anything other than a concentric circle target? That I think gay marriage is groovy? That I think smoking pot isn't a cardinal sin?

I'd like to think we're on the same page (freedom loving folk) but I often feel like a man without a country. I'm way too socially liberal for the GOP, I'm way too much a believer in environmentalism and conservation to be a libertarian, and I'm wayyyyyy too distrustful of Dubya's govt to turn all my guns in the way some liberals would have me do.

I'm something of a maverick in that regard. But I am brutally honest (which is why I don't bother blogging anonymously). I tell the truth about what I really do think...and as such, don't need to be anonymous any more than Kevin Drum does.

Posted by: Sebastian-PGP on April 19, 2007 at 12:50 AM | PERMALINK

Well thank you, Brojo. That's the nicest thing anyone has said to me all day.

For what it's worth, I won't even shoot at targets with a human outline on them. On principle.

I did the public safety range, where you have a split second to make the decision whether the person that just popped up is a threat or not. I would never put myself in the position Instahack thinks I should as a red-blooded 'murican, because in spite of growing up with guns and 25 years of responsible gun ownership, I nearly always shoot the guy with the camera.

You know what? I bet a lot of those hero-wannabe's would too. If they ever got on that range. I accept my shortcomings and admit them.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 19, 2007 at 12:50 AM | PERMALINK

" Even, or maybe especially, the hardest nuts feel no need for all this in your face self-congratulation. Seems a little against the grain. Maybe that's what's scary"

Or maybe, more realistically, it just doesn't compute for you that somebody can be so darned liberal...but not fit into the neat little pigeonholes you rely on.

Geepers, how can somebody be a liberal progressive type...but not buy 100% of the party line on every issue?

Republican thinking at it's finest.

And FWIW, I'm not sharing personal details in the search for congratulations, but to emphasisize the point that I've little to hide. It's not self-aggrandizement, it's brutal honesty--the predetermined pigeon holes you have for me ain't gonna work.

Posted by: Sebastian-PGP on April 19, 2007 at 12:54 AM | PERMALINK

Hold on-

I saw the photo of you, Sebastian. It was in the archive thread I have off to the side. Did that pesky mod delete it?

You are swathed in black, head to toe, with what looks like tactical boots and all that nonsense.

No, you're just another madman. I've not interested in giving you anymore "attaboys." No self-respecting person wears THAT getup in public without first selecting which of the proletariat to skin alive and eat.

When you arrive on the scene, do the police reach for their sidearms? Do they stop you and ask you where the next mass murder is going to be? Do you carry a lot of steak knives around? Do you eat at restaurants looking like that? Eyeballs rolled up into your skull, foam flecked mouth and darting tongue. You have lizard features, sir. And a penchant for threats and whatnot. Disgusting.

I saw that film "SWAT" with that little Irish bugger, what was his name? Colin Farrel? You look like that little potato-eating idiot's butt buddy, sir. You look absolutely deviant and horrific when you wear all black in public. Are you Johnny Cash or something? My stars. And the bald head--where on Earth did you get the notion that that's stylish. Stylish for the man who might gnaw the arms off of someone's red-headed stepchild and giggle about peeing on himself. You look deranged and pathetic. Ugh.

Good day to you.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on April 19, 2007 at 12:58 AM | PERMALINK

Norman...that's just fuckin funny. :)

Mods...why the no pics rule? I think I look rather dashing in my My-god-it's-farkin-cold-out-today-but-I'm-picking-up-trash-anyway gear.

Posted by: Sebastian-PGP on April 19, 2007 at 1:01 AM | PERMALINK

Bleh. I've just been sick on myself, thinking of this Sebastian fellow, fellating himself in an alley and professing his "man without a country" status.

Bleh. I need a mint or something.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on April 19, 2007 at 1:02 AM | PERMALINK

and I'm wayyyyyy too distrustful of Dubya's govt to turn all my guns in the way some liberals would have me do.

You and I are kindred spirits there. You're nuts if you think I would even consider that with these fools in charge. That would send me into the woods.

I get in trouble with some liberals because I am nuts about every single word in the Constitution. Even the Second Amendment.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 19, 2007 at 1:03 AM | PERMALINK

See-bass-

Ya dumb fuck. Normie and Some Perspective are the same person.

He's making you look like a *goof*

Posted by: ahem on April 19, 2007 at 1:06 AM | PERMALINK

Aw, Man! I missed it. I mean, I know Norm is way downfield from the ball, but damn, I'm sorry I missed that!

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 19, 2007 at 1:06 AM | PERMALINK

Well, fuck me sideways.

Forgive my ignorance, but I really can't keep track of all the sockpuppetry here. It's a lot to ask...

Posted by: Sebastian-PGP on April 19, 2007 at 1:08 AM | PERMALINK

Jesus, you guys are tiresome. Why don't I put an end to this right now? I've got a ruler. Drop 'em guys--and let's settle what you are REALLY arguing about.

Testosterone overload!

Any chance we can have a reasonable and intelligent discussion? Or is it going to be all hissy fits, all the time?

Posted by: LAS on April 19, 2007 at 1:09 AM | PERMALINK

On the intertubes, nobody knows you're a dog.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 19, 2007 at 1:11 AM | PERMALINK

...the predetermined pigeon holes you have for me ain't gonna work.

Posted by: Sebastian-PGP on April 19, 2007 at 12:54 AM | PERMALINK

OK, I'll fall for it.

Then stop talking about yourself and how effing marvelous you are and everybody else is nothing compared to you and your opinions, and they're all wimps and you're the only hero, gonad equipped tough guy around here ('cos you're not), and start in on some some issue. With facts.

And if that's not what you are, read what you write and wonder why you might come across that way.

Stop drinking, take a downer, take a breath. Or just do some yoga and self-reflection.

I'm done, because it's probably attention you want.

Posted by: notthere on April 19, 2007 at 1:15 AM | PERMALINK

BGRS, I don't think I would have guessed ion the second amendment. But, if it's every word what about "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of the state,..." That's from my foreign memory so excuse me if that's a little off.

I don't think the NRA = the second amendment as they want it interpreted.

And I'm a gun owner.

Posted by: notthere on April 19, 2007 at 1:21 AM | PERMALINK

Oh I loathe the NRA with every fiber of my being and absolutely do not want to be associated with them. I have never been a member and I openly denounce them.

How's that?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 19, 2007 at 1:24 AM | PERMALINK

"Then stop talking about yourself and how effing marvelous you"

Oh, go fornicate yourself.

Disputo and Norm's sockpuppet couldn't get enough of telling people I'm insane, I'm evil, I'm a meanie head, I'm a redneck, blah blah blah. Pointing out that, in fact, none of those things are true by offering details about who I actually am is illustriative and an absolute defense against their slanderous behavior.


"everybody else is nothing compared to you and your opinions,"

Blow me. I said no such thing and you goddamn well know it. I merely pointed out that Disputo and other's were making wildly inaccurate assertions about me.

"they're all wimps and you're the only hero, gonad equipped tough guy around here"

Man, your kung fu is weak. You want facts? Here's one: I didn't do anything close to that either, I merely pointed out that calling someone a "weakling" from the relative comforts of keyboard is pretty flimsy.

Attention? Why the fuck would I want attention from a self proclaimed gun owner who devalues the 2A?

Posted by: Sebastian-PGP on April 19, 2007 at 1:28 AM | PERMALINK

I think our household fits the definition any way you want to define it.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 19, 2007 at 1:30 AM | PERMALINK

Sebastain-PGP proves every point. Unfortunately they've removed the post where he accused others of hiding behind their keyboards and only he has the balls to be out front, he is who is is -- deleted.

SPGP, you are one sorry mess. Personally, like BGRS I don't see the NRA being the same as the U.S.A., or its interpretations being in the country's best interests. Like you, they are dangerous, ideological, and single, not to say simple minded.

As before you haven't done anything but fling vitriol and talk about yourself.

Posted by: notthere on April 19, 2007 at 1:48 AM | PERMALINK

The front page of Wednesday's Herald Sun in Melbourne?

'NOT AGAIN'.

Says it all, really.

The Second Amendment, I'm sorry to say (because generally we agree on quite a bit Global Citizen), is a crock of shit.

You're welcome to it.

I'm glad my society doesn't have to argue over the interpretation of a text written in another time and context and which, for all its pretensions, is NOT timeless in its relevance or wisdom.

Funnily enough, I feel the same way about the Second Amendment that I do about those loony passages in Leviticus.

Move on - you're no longer a frontier society of rugged individualists, no matter the posing of nutters like Sebastian.

'Well-regulated militia' my ass.

Posted by: floopmeister on April 19, 2007 at 2:13 AM | PERMALINK

...All I can say is: I still hope everyone takes this very, very slowly. There might be lessons we can learn from Monday's tragedy, but our first reactions are almost certain to be wrong. Probably our second reactions too. Whatever we do, let's not make the cure worse than the disease.

Kevin Drum 12:08 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (201)

You know, it's been taken very,very slowly for the last umpteen years. I seem it was some madman that bought a guna flew all the way from Hawaii to shoot Prees. Reagan.

There's plenty of long considered and well though out ideas that have been around long before the V'Tech tragedy. And, fortunately, I am not so closely attached to this tragedy to know that there is some chance it might have been avoided with tighter gun laws.

The problem is the lessons are always brushed under the carpet to suit a voluble minority, most of whom would probably continue to enjoy their guns and hunting.

Posted by: notthere on April 19, 2007 at 2:16 AM | PERMALINK

We can disagree. I won't take my ball and go home, nor will I like you any less. :)

I grew up in the Navy, but my grandparents emigrated from rural Bohemia to a farm in rural Missouri and we grew up hunting. And military. Pretty favorable combination of factors, ya know?

(btw: If we agreed on every damned thing, we would be righties.)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 19, 2007 at 2:23 AM | PERMALINK

floopmeister, if you've got a mo, what were the gun law changes in OZ after the Tasmanian event? You aren't exactly famous for nutters, surprisingly. Did the gun-death rate change? I've been able to find Canada figures and they are so much lower than here.

At least you guys reacted. This afternoon I was listening to a couple of the Columbine survivors, one of whom is flying down to Virginia. Another who survived one of the classroom attacks in Virginia, the only one unwounded. He'll need some help.

Posted by: notthere on April 19, 2007 at 2:29 AM | PERMALINK

(btw: If we agreed on every damned thing, we would be righties.)

Or we'd both be right.

;)

Funny thing is, banning automatic weapons and strengthening the gun laws here was about the only thing our deeply conservative PM has done that I (and most Labour/Greens voters, BTW) agree with.

It was a courageous decision, even though it was supported by an overwhelming majority of Australians.

Talking about favourable factors - my partner was for many years coordinator of the Port Arthur massacre memorial here in Melbourne... Still the worst civilian massacre in history.

Posted by: floopmeister on April 19, 2007 at 2:34 AM | PERMALINK

You aren't exactly famous for nutters, surprisingly.

Really? You do know that Wolf Creek is based on a true story, don't you?

;)

Funnily enough, written by a relative of my partner... (well, we do have a small population!)

Posted by: floopmeister on April 19, 2007 at 2:38 AM | PERMALINK

Oh i agree that gun laws should be tighter, and Virginia needs to get some period.

But even if we take that logical step and deal with tightening up the legal weapons, we still have a sick society that is awash in cheap illegal weapons that we will spend generations mopping up after.

Gun violence is a symptom of a larger social ill. That's what gets me when someone says "toughest laws, highest crime" like that's an indictment. yeah, it is...of the lousy social services and poverty and corrupt police in your city most likely. I know that underlies the gun violence in my city.

We need social strategies to palliate our problems because we can not be a free society (or what we are passing off as such these days) and take the steps to round them all up.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 19, 2007 at 2:42 AM | PERMALINK

On my third attempt I found something that seems decent on the questions I asked about Aussie gun law and effects.

I cannot get the logic that more guns is more security. Again the US fails to compare to other countries and draw any sensible conclusions. Except for seriously disturbed countries, we have higher gun ownership, the weakest gun control, the slackest licensing and registration, and the highest death rates from gun crime and firearm accidents.

But, oh No. What we need are more guns. Talk about insanity. And it's not a majority of the country; just politically powerful and motivated.

Posted by: notthere on April 19, 2007 at 2:51 AM | PERMALINK

GC, I see the issue as essentially philosophical. The Second Amendment is essentially meant to allow the public to help protect the country from external aggression, and protect themselves against their own government. How can that be defensible in a country that is ostensibly a democracy? If the government is so dangerous or unresponsive to its own citizens, can it be considered democratic (‘ruled by the people’)?

However much I disagree with my government, I do NOT fear it in any great way. I don’t need guns to protect myself from my own government. If I did fear it to that extent, I’d know I wasn’t living in a democracy anymore.

As for self protection against other citizens, the FIRST role of any state (currently writing an essay on failing states in the developing world so this is in my mind at the moment) is ALWAYS to monopolise the use of violence within its borders. Think of this concept in terms of Iraq and you can see how absolutely crucial this State role is.

It’s the Alpha and Omega of the state’s role, if you will.

If the sense of individualism is so ingrained in the US that citizens cannot even trust the state with this prime, definitional,even, characteristic of a state, then what’s the point ?

This is where the loony naivety of libertarianism is so destructive in the US context. Can you see how strange the whole gun debate/second amendment debate sounds to non-Americans?

Posted by: floopmeister on April 19, 2007 at 3:08 AM | PERMALINK

notthere - sorry I didn't answer! Just about to leave work...

Posted by: floopmeister on April 19, 2007 at 3:09 AM | PERMALINK

this is just swell:

In fact, said Tancredo spokesman Carlos Espinosa, the worst school rampage occurred when an anti-tax zealot blew up a school in Bath, Mich., in 1927, killing around 40 children and a handful of adults, including himself.

Now everyone will be suspicious of anti-tax zealots.

Sweeney Todd did his work with a razor. but that's Britain for you. Or was, as he was a long time ago. Interestingly, although Britain has a lower murder rate than the U.S., it has a higher rate of other violent crimes, such as mugging and assault.

I think I wrote this once before, but someplace I read it again today: more people in the U.S. are killed by drunk drivers than are killed by guns. That's another problem where the balance of civil protection and civil liberties isn't clear. Drunk men also beat an awful lot of wives and girlfriends.

On most things I am optimistic, but on balancing the right to bear arms with the right to safety, and the right to drink with the right to safety, I do not expect any progress or improvement from where we are now in the U.S. We are descended from our forbears by a process of random variation and natural selection; we are not intelligently designed. And by random variation, some of us are violent and crazy. There has been a lot of serious scholarly study since Charles Whitman, whom I remember because his crime spree occurred at the time I changed my major from "hard science" to psychology. But the ability to identify people like Whitman and Cho (and McVeigh) has not improved. Paradoxically (perhaps) it was mostly right after Whitman that states started the crusade to make it much harder to incarcerate mentally ill against their will. There were a bunch of prominent cases of people wrongfully committed, and other movements in psychiatry (remember Thomas Szasz? [spelling is probably inaccurate]).

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on April 19, 2007 at 4:35 AM | PERMALINK

Now everyone will be suspicious of anti-tax zealots.

As they should be.

Posted by: Gregory on April 19, 2007 at 5:52 AM | PERMALINK

MNPundit perhaps you should read the Count of Monte Cristo. Revenge is a large waste of time.

Saw the movie Gandalf...

...and thoughts of revenge don't consume me or anything, I don't think about it very often. Maybe once a year or so if that.

BUT!

When the opportunity presents itself (and it just might) I am certainly going to take it.

Posted by: MNPundit on April 19, 2007 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

Like the Nazis (who were big fans of gun control), the KKK, and too many of my fellow liberals today, you make broad, misinformed generalizations about people whose politics you don't like and are the picture of intolerance.

Sir, you cannot win an argument by citing the Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan. That's as preposterous as can be. While I am no fan of liberals, even I have more decency than that, and that's saying a lot. You are reprehensible for doing so and, as a conservative, I must honestly denounce your attack and submit it for deletion. You have stepped beyond the bounds of reasonable discourse. There is no cause to compare three disparate entities in such a manner. You are ignorant of context, history and polite discourse.

And, no, I am no "sock puppet" as accused above. Every time I explain how things work to liberals, I get called all manner of things and NONE of them are true. Suffice it to say, if I was any one of those things, my comments would be moderated.

As for you, Sebastian-PGP--your time is up. I suspect a moderator will tire of your silliness before too long.

Good day, sir. And try to understand--wearing all black is a sign you probably want to go out in a blaze of glory like in some Bon Jovi video.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on April 19, 2007 at 9:11 AM | PERMALINK

Will a liberal join me in calling for the wholesale banning and removal of Sebastian-PGP? I will call Charlie Peters after a while and complain, as I am wont to do. I tolerate a great deal, but even I won't lump you liberals in with the Nazis and the KKK. Yes, you are all my mortal enemies. But we have to have standards of decency, and I will decently say that, while despicable at times, you are not THAT despicable.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on April 19, 2007 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

Here's what a sensible fellow thinks of guns. Since he is in the military, I dare anyone to call him anything less than a patriot. I dare them.

Name: Lt. Col. Bob Bateman
Hometown: Capitol Hill, Washington DC

I am sick of stories about guns, and how the blessed Founding Fathers wanted every little patriot baby to grow up with a Kentucky long-rifle over the mantle. It is a lie. It is a myth. The very idea is a concoction by people who want to believe something, regardless of the facts, and the fact that the lie has deep roots does not make it any more accurate.

I am sick of stories about people who claim that "guns don't kill people, people kill people." Bullshit. You do not see 70+ people, or even 40, or 20 ... or, (you get the picture) randomly gunned down in any of the countries where the tools of violence are confined to the authorities.

I am sick of idiots with an agenda pretending that what happened at Virginia Tech is not because we have too many damned guns in this country. Muzzle-loading blackpowder rifles, single-shot breech-loading hunting rifles, and single-barrel breech-loading shotguns, and that is about it, are all that should be allowed. Those tools can be used, legitimately, to hunt. You want more, move. Leave the United States to those who know the difference between something that is useful for hunting, and something that replaces the manhood you never attained. If you want more, join the Army. If you can't do that, and if you still want something that reloads quickly and gives you plenty of shots, BUY A DAMNED BOW!

But what really puts me over the top is one particular brand of NRA stupidity. That is the myth of the Wild West. In other words, if I hear one more stupid gun-loving sonuvabitch talk about how, "Well, if they just had allowed all those students to have guns, this lunatic at Virginia Tech wouldn'ta got far," I am going to slap his dumb ass on the first plane smokin' for Iraq, where I would like to personally drop him off, with as many guns as he would like, in Dora (that's a particularly nasty South Baghdad neighborhood with which I am familiar).

Yes, Dora would be perfect. In my mind's eye I am imagining plopping said gun nut off outside the blue-painted major police sub-station, just about six or seven blocks from another walled-in compound which is now a police barracks (or, at least it was, last year.). As a microcosm, Dora should be the NRA's dream town, as it perfectly matches the NRA "Wild West" theory of what is needed in a society: honor is important to the individual; the family is the most important part of society; all of the inhabitants are very religious (except for when they are not); and absolutely everyone has at least one gun.

In fact, I would very much like to personally place the CEO of the NRA, Mr. Wayne LaPierre, there right now. What'ya say, Wayne? Want to experience a world where everyone has a gun? C'mon, buddy, I'll even let you hump the pig.

(That means, "Carry the M-240 7.62 mm machine gun," people. Get your minds out of the gutter.)

Posted by: Norman Rogers on April 19, 2007 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, and this is what happens to "sock puppets" on this very thread and on this very blog.

[handle hijack]
Posted by: Al on April 18, 2007 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: Norman Rogers on April 19, 2007 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

A worthwhile post re the relationship between guns and violence over at Andrew Sullivan's blog -
http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2007/04/more_gunsmore_o.html

Notthere

"I am not so closely attached to this tragedy to know that there is some chance it might have been avoided with tighter gun laws."

Okay, we'll set aside Kevin's (and lots of others) wisdom in calling for a pause for just a moment.

There are lots of bad things that might be avoided with tighter laws. Temporarily setting aside the constitutional issues, do you really want policy to be dictated by a single event, however horrible? Does the prospect of enacting poicy which, if done at the national level, would affect 300 million people, over one incident, not give you pause at all?

If there's an argument for tighter gun control, it's going to be in the hope for avoiding lots of shootings where one or two people suffer. It there's an argument for more guns, it's the deterrent effect of guns on crime.

The above is a policy argument. I don't believe, nor have I have I ever believed, that the policy implications of gun control are the slam dunk that gun control advocates think they are. Read the post from Sullivan's blog above - it's a good one.

What I DO believe is that a great many people don't "get it" with regards to guns. They're these icky, nasty, dangerous things that go bang and hurt people. Moreover, lots of people, particularly in urban areas, haven't been exposed to them. Whereas in other policy debates lots of people can identify with the guy coming home from the theater who has an extra glass of wine and gets a DUI, or the girl who forgets
to buckle her seatbelt, or rides a motorcycle without a helmet, lots of people DON'T identify with a hunter that bonds with his son by taking him out or a person who has a high comfort level with firearms, e.g. BG or myself. That's understandable, but not liking something isn't a basis for making policy, not in a free society.

A few points -

-I'm not personally doctrinaire about some of the peripheral aspects of gun control. If you want to talk about gun show loopholes, background checks and the like, I'm happy to do that. Keeping guns out of criminal's hands is a very worthwhile goal. I think the NRA went off the deepend about this kind of thing a long time ago. I do kind of get the argument that there's a web of gun control groups that want different things (some are handgun control, some assault weapons, some large caliber rifles, etc), and that if you give in on anything, you're on a slippery slope that leads to a defacto ban on personal firearms. I get the argument, I just don't buy it (for the most part).

-floopmeister, if you want to be philosophical - you're arguing the Peace of Westphalia. Think John Locke and the Social Contract. Any good contract has a section addressing what happens if one party doesn't live up to the bargain. The ability to (theoretically) defend one's self if a government fails to hold up its end, whether by abusing its powers or just by failing to get a cop to my doorstep fast enough, forcing me to act in self defense, just isn't as loopy as you seem to think it is. This is particularly true since we're not really a democracy, we're a liberal democratic system embodied in a Republic. Which, despite what certain administrations think, doesn't mean 50.1% rule, but rather all kinds of protections for the minority and limits on the government. Most of the Anglosphere enshrines that in Common Law. We do as well, but we write some of it down as well. Different strokes for different folks, and all that.

Above all, a law abiding citizen who owns a gun and doesn't act against others except in self defense isn't hurting anybody. A law abiding citizen who isn't hurting anybody shouldn't be told he can't do something. I'm no libertarian - the world's too complicated for that. But since I abandoned (never adopted) the libertarian hard line, that makes it all the more important to show wisdom and prudence in policy. And if that strikes you as loony libertarinaism or the Frontier Thesis run amok, oh well.

Posted by: hotrod on April 19, 2007 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

Above all, a law abiding citizen who owns a gun and doesn't act against others except in self defense isn't hurting anybody.

...until someone breaks the law, they're "not hurting anybody."

That's a specious argument, sir.

In the old west, you surrendered your guns when you rode into town. It wasn't about preventing the bonding of a man and his son--it was about keeping people from shooting each other over minor disputes.

Can we not agree that this isn't about rifles or shotguns? I oppose any effort to ban rifles or shotguns. I support a ban on machine guns, assault rifles, flamethrowers, recoiless rifles, anti-tank guns and bazookas.

Having lived in big cities, I support a ban on handguns. It's just basic common sense, sir.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on April 19, 2007 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

I support a ban on machine guns, assault rifles, flamethrowers, recoiless rifles, anti-tank guns and bazookas.

What?!? You're denying us our rights, you commie pinko liberal!

Posted by: Federated Tank Hunters of America on April 19, 2007 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

He stopped when he saw my wife at the top of the stairs with a shotgun. The police got there about 5 minutes later. After it was over.

That's a great story, but she wasn't holding a machine gun and it didn't take a machine gun to scare him away.

But the moral you draw from that ignores the underlying problem of why that character was behaving as he did, because he thought he had a right to, that it was justified.

The myth of the second amendment is one of the central inspirations to violence, corruption and social conservatism, because the myth allows people so inclined to imagine they have some inherent right to be the final arbiter of whether to kill someone or not, where hysteria becomes 'self-defense' and they just can't take it anymore.

The second amendment exists to describe the way in which private ownership is allowed, and places the entire burden on the states to make the arrangement for themselves. An individual state could ban all private ownership entirely, or mandate a howitzer in every garage.

Posted by: cld on April 19, 2007 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

I have to say this school shooting is the luckiest thing that ever happened to Alberto Gonzales.

Posted by: cld on April 19, 2007 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

It is interesting for some perspective, to consider that the worst school *killings* were committed by a guy protesting *taxes* back in 1927, and he used bombs and not guns. More importantly, *he blew himself up*! He was one of our first “suicide bombers”! This is something to throw at arrogant righties complaining about Cho’s gripes against rich kids, or that if everyone there had a gun they could have stopped him (our local ex-marine talk show host at WNIS 790 pointed out that many could die in a cross fire from untrained kids at that time, and in fights before such a tragedy), or Cho’s having an ostensibly Islamic-themed “Ismail Ax” tattoo on his arm, etc.

One of the questionable thoughts coming from that side is that many "chickenhawk" types are complaining that the students should have rushed the gunman etc. I have to wonder at their ability to judge people in such difficult situations, paralleling their spectator's view of it being no big deal to ask soldiers to serve so long in Iraq under such danger for questionable reasons now (since when is endangering someone longer a form of "support," and wanting them out of it "not supporting" them?) Yet, they won't or would not serve. In any case, I still don’t think the general public should give up basic gun rights. We do need to tighten up on what sort of person can get them.

http://freepages.history.rootsweb.com/~bauerle/disaster.htm

On May 18, 1927, 45 people, mostly children, were killed and 58 were injured when disgruntled and demented school board member Andrew Kehoe dynamited the new school building in Bath, Michigan out of revenge over his foreclosed farm due in part to the taxes required to pay for the new school.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bath_School_disaster

The Bath School disaster is the name given to not one but three bombings in Bath Township, Michigan, USA, on May 18, 1927, which killed 45 people and injured 58. Most of the victims were children in second to sixth grades attending the Bath Consolidated School. Their deaths constitute the deadliest act of mass murder in a school in U.S. history. The perpetrator was school board member Andrew Kehoe, who was upset by a property tax that had been levied to fund the construction of the school building. He blamed the additional tax for financial hardships which led to foreclosure proceedings against his farm. These events apparently provoked Kehoe to plan his attack.

Posted by: Neil B. on April 19, 2007 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Woof!

You shit head--worst mass murder in American history was Wounded Knee.

Now get me a milk bone and shut the fuck up!

Woof!

Posted by: Neil B.s Dog on April 19, 2007 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, Mr. can't even read, the real, sub-s___ head: I clearly said, "worst school *killings*" ... !!!
Good lord, please ask George Bush to give you some reading lessons, little boy or girl, as the case may be! I won't even give you the milk-bone up _______, and I think we all know who should STFU around here!
(BTW, of course Wounded Knee was a horrific mass murder, just don't take out your contextual cluelessness on me and the posters here, OK?)

Posted by: Neil B. on April 19, 2007 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

BGRS sez:

According to one commenter, Disputo, you just described me. Apparently by some peoples metric, I am a gun nut, to be feared, and possibly in need of a sturdy cage.

Did you see the threat SPGP made the other night? Or the posts were he was challenging people to track him down? (Before they were deleted.) I've never seen you say anything so insane.

You should be careful about aligning yourself with SPGP. All I have seen from you on here shows that you are thoughtful, intelligent and responsible. More importantly, wrt guns, you seem to have a good sense of what your limits are, and you respect them. SPGP on the other hand, is incapable of entertaining a fact or argument that doesn't fit his predetermined view of how he insists the world works. And when challenged, he immediately accelerates to violent rhet, and when challenged again, issues violent threats. If that wasn't enough, he projects his madness onto everyone else. This is not a game; this is for real. He is a gun nut, and should not be allowed to own any weapon more dangerous than a wooden soup spoon.

On the other hand, from what I know of you, I have no problem with you owning long guns. (However, given your inability to not shoot the guy with the camera, I don't want you conceal-carrying.)

Posted by: Disputo on April 19, 2007 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

The student slipped through the mental health system and was decompensating.
It is nauseating seeing the sensationalism by cable news channels.
He will be a cult figure before long.
How sad -- the medical doctor reported each of the students who survived and were being treated had three bullets each in them.

Posted by: consider wisely on April 19, 2007 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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