Few details were known about Monday’s senseless killings on the Virginia Tech campus before many analysts jumped to the same conclusion they always reach: The way to stop gun violence is to impose further controls on the legal ownership of guns.
In an editorial Tuesday, for instance, The New York Times opined: “What is needed, urgently, is stronger controls over the lethal weapons that cause such wasteful carnage and such unbearable loss.”
Ironically, the editorial earlier explains the missteps taken by the university and the police, who did not shut down classes or notify students after the shooter killed two people two hours before gunning down 30 more students in a classroom.
The Times’ news coverage, which included quotations from proponents of more gun control, also included a statement from the local police chief, who said: “We can’t have an armed guard in front of every classroom every day of the year.”
Individuals cannot rely on police officers to always protect them. The police can’t, and shouldn’t be, everywhere. Unfortunately, the inadequate official response at Virginia Tech is typical of responses at other mass shootings.
At Columbine High School in Colorado, where two student gunmen killed 13 others plus themselves in 1999, the police “moved methodically through the building evacuating students, instead of racing through the corridors in search of the gunmen,” according to a Washington Post report.
Clearly, when in danger, one cannot wait for the government to come and save you. But what if the government makes it impossible to protect yourself?
While media reports focused on the need for more gun control, few focused on the gun ban already in place on the Virginia Tech campus. No student or teacher was allowed to carry a firearm.
Such bans are not protection against a determined criminal. The shooter at Virginia Tech, obviously, felt no need to follow the rule, while unarmed students, faculty and staff were left vulnerable.
State and federal governments already impose significant limitations on the ownership of firearms. We can only conclude that those who always call for more gun control will be satisfied with nothing less than a generalized gun ban. Their hope is utopian: that a government ban on firearms ownership will eliminate access to weapons by those who want to commit crimes. Yet those who intend to kill others will always be able to gain access to firearms and other weapons on the black market.
It’s far safer, and far more in keeping with the free traditions of this country, to allow people to arm and protect themselves.