The Fight We Knew Was Coming Is Here
By Russ Thurman
Editor, Shooting Industry Magazine
The mind-numbing events surrounding the shootings at Virginia Tech on April 16 provided a stage for some of the most bizarre actions of the anti-gun movement. On one side, there are hard-core, anti-gun advocates screaming for action, shamelessly seeing in the tragic shootings a grand moment to advance their cause. On the other side, there are the near-humorous antics of the Congressional leadership, who are more interested in power than advancing "gun control" — for now.
But make no mistake, there's a firestorm raging. While most of us grappled with the tragedy, desperately trying to cope with the shock, terror and magnitude of the killings by a deranged 23-year-old student, the hardcore, anti-gun movement rolled out its well-prepared message: "Guns are to blame."
Even before the killer had been identified, even before the bodies had been removed from classrooms, even before relatives knew if their sons, daughters, husbands, wives, brothers or sisters were among the dead, the call for more gun control sounded across the country, encouraged by a willing media that thrives on "if it bleeds, it leads."
Not even a rebuke from Virginia Governor Tim Kaine deterred the overly eager anti-gun media. At a press conference on April 17, following the emotion-filled convocation at Virginia Tech, a reporter asked the governor if it wasn't time for more gun control. Governor Kaine responded harshly: "I think that people who want to take this within 24 hours of the event and make it their political hobby horse to ride, I've got nothing but loathing for them. To those who want to try to make this into some little crusade, I say take that elsewhere."
But hard-core, anti-gun advocates would have none of that. The call for more gun control, even an outright ban, grabbed large chunks of talk radio airtime and network and all-news television segments. In a shameless pampering of the anti-gun movement, Chris Matthews threw the softest of pitches on MSNBC's "Hardball," as he provided House Representative Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) a soapbox she never thought possible a few days earlier.
In February, McCarthy introduced H.R. 1022: "Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Protection Act of 2007," which is a greatly enhanced version of the Clinton-era law. H.R. 1022 would ban hundreds of present firearms and "Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device(s)." On March 15, the proposed bill had 26 cosponsors. On April 19, it had 38.
On "Hardball," McCarthy greatly misrepresented her position on gun control, sounding supportive of the Second Amendment. She misstated the effectiveness of the original Assault Weapons Ban and the purpose of H.R. 1022. Matthews eagerly fed her the "right" questions.
McCarthy, who most Americans would not have recognized before April 17, was featured on all the television news programs and ABC placed her interview with Sam Donaldson on its Web site. Overnight, McCarthy was the face of "reasonable gun laws," one who wasn't afraid to prod her colleagues into action.
"For too long Congress has stood idle while gun violence continues to take its toll. The unfortunate situation in Virginia could have been avoided if Congressional leaders stood up to the gun lobby," McCarthy said. Translation: It's not the fault of the person who pulled the trigger, but those who made the trigger and those who support gun ownership.
The Brady Campaign stooped to a new low following the shootings. On April 17, it spewed its standard mantra about guns, the "gun lobby," etc., etc., including its ever-present, "Please make a contribution to keep the momentum going." By the end of the week, the Brady Campaign had taken its fundraising to a despicable level. Instead of the Brady home page, visitors to bradycampaign.com, were greeted with a fundraising pitch: "CRISIS RESPONSE: Elected officials continue to ignore our gun violence epidemic. It's time to answer one question, 'What are YOU going to do about it?' DONATE NOW!" Obviously, Brady didn't see blood in the Virginia Tech shootings, but money.
Gun Control? Never Heard Of It.
Despite the screeching call for action, the Congressional Democratic leadership wasn't about to step into the gun-control fray. No Congressman of any prominence is going to publicly utter the words "gun control." Yes, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said the shootings would "reignite the dormant effort to pass common sense gun regulations in this nation," but the normal anti-gun shrillness was missing.
If not for the seriousness of the week, the actions of some ardent anti-gun politicians would have been comical. Democrats in Congress did everything they could to avoid talking about "gun control." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's unwillingness to address the possibility of such legislation so exasperated the anti-gun editors at ABC News, they panned her on their Web site, saying, "But this week, when directly asked (by ABC) about Congress' mood to pass gun control after the worst school shooting in American history, liberal House Speaker Nancy Pelosi acted as if she'd never even heard the term."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said, "I hope there's not a rush to do anything. We need to take a deep breath."
If you didn't know any better, you would have thought Pelosi and Reid were on the NRA's board of directors.
Why the seeming lack of backbone by the Democratic leadership? Timing. Power. Now is not the time to push for gun control in Congress. The Democrats' control of Congress is razor-thin, and a number of freshman Democrats, who gave the party control, are not rabid anti-gunners.
More important, Democrats remember 2000 well. Gore's anti-gun position contributed to his losing Tennessee, Arkansas and West Virginia. Had Gore taken one of the states, he would not have needed Florida to take the presidency. With that misstep, word went out, "Abandon gun control in future elections."
Make no mistake, the fight we knew was coming is here. The tragedy at Virginia Tech is being used to its fullest by hard-core, antigun forces to change the way Americans view gun ownership and those who make firearms. This is indeed their grand moment and they are exploiting it to the fullest.
For anti-gun forces in Congress, they are just waiting for the right time. The seemingly pro-gun, or at the least, neutral-gun position of the Congressional leadership has nothing to do with the issue, it has to do with staying in power. Democrats want to stay in power, increase their numbers in Congress and elect a Democrat president. Once that's accomplished, anti-gun legislation and laws will again become fashionable and the order of the day.
For the industry's part, this is not a time for the faint of heart. While there's plenty of fighting ahead, there's also optimism. The American people are not buying the anti-gun rhetoric wholesale.
On ABC News, Donaldson, in opening his April 18 interview with Rep. McCarthy, said, "Our latest polls, and consistently for the last 20 years, show that over 60 percent of the public wants stricter gun controls."
However, on its Web site, ABC asked, "Do you think this incident is a reason to pass stricter gun control legislation?" As of April 19, here are the results:
- 78,139: No. Violent shootings are isolated incidents and it's irresponsible to link them to gun control.
- 25,169: Yes. This shows the violence that can occur when someone has access to handguns.
- 1,873: I'm not sure. I need more information.
So, despite the ranting of anti-gun advocates, the American people are not stupid. However, their minds can be changed and often are in the volatility of a national election. The 2008 elections loom even more important now.
To prevail in this fight, it will take banding together as an industry as we've never done before. Fortunately, over the past 10 years, the industry has developed a strong solidarity.
The Hunting & Shooting Sports Heritage Fund of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) was pivotal in defeating industry-wide litigation cases, the passage of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, the Vote Your Sport campaigns and other initiatives. However, there was an imbalance in the number of companies contributing to the fund and those benefiting from its work. Less than 150 companies took part in the fund. That is remarkably low, considering there were 1,846 exhibiting companies at SHOT Show 2007. If you were a member of the Heritage Fund, thank you. If you were not, now is the time to join the fight.
As the industry prepares for the battles ahead, the vital work of the Heritage Fund is now being assumed by the entire NSSF organization. We at FMG Publications were longtime members of the Heritage Fund and as members of the NSSF will continue our support of the organization as it battles lawsuits and hostile legislation, and unveils its voter education programs. If your company is not a member of the NSSF, now is the time to join. If your business profits directly or indirectly from the firearm industry, you need to support its fight against those who would destroy it. Visit nssf.org. Join.
We also need to strongly support the NRA and its efforts. It really was the NRA's strength that pushed through the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, and the organization has fought alongside the industry in countless battles at all levels of government. The NRA will play a vital role during the upcoming presidential campaigns and election. We need to support them.
A major industry-backed campaign will launch soon to strengthen the NRA membership, its get-out-the-vote campaigns and its support for the firearm industry.
As always is the case following such tragic events, everyone has an answer as to how it could have been prevented. One side proposes eliminating guns and the industry that makes them. It's up to us — all of us — to ensure that doesn't happen.
Monday, April 30, 2007
Friday, April 27, 2007
I want my free movie ticket back!
From the article:
"Wahlberg echoes the opinion his character, Bob Swagger, would probably have on gun control. (Someone obviously didn't read the book! -Yuri)
"Well, I would love it if they could take all the guns away. Unfortunately, you can't do that so you hope that good people in the world have them to protect the people who can't protect themselves,'' he says.
"Certainly, I haven't used a gun anywhere other than on a movie set and I'd like to see if we could take them all away. It would be a beautiful thing."'
-by Dan Simpson
LAST week's tragedy at Virginia Tech in which a mentally disturbed person gunned down 32 of America's finest - intelligent young people with futures ahead of them - once again puts the phenomenon of an armed society into focus for Americans.
The likely underestimate of how many guns are wandering around America runs at 240 million in a population of about 300 million. What was clear last week is that at least two of those guns were in the wrong hands.
When people talk about doing something about guns in America, it often comes down to this: "How could America disarm even if it wanted to? There are so many guns out there."
Because I have little or no power to influence the "if" part of the issue, I will stick with the "how." And before anyone starts to hyperventilate and think I'm a crazed liberal zealot wanting to take his gun from his cold, dead hands, let me share my experience of guns.
As a child I played cowboys and Indians with cap guns. I had a Daisy Red Ryder B-B gun. My father had in his bedside table drawer an old pistol which I examined surreptitiously from time to time. When assigned to the American embassy in Beirut during the war in Lebanon, I sometimes carried a .357 Magnum, which I could fire accurately. I also learned to handle and fire a variety of weapons while I was there, including Uzis and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.
I don't have any problem with hunting, although blowing away animals with high-powered weapons seems a pointless, no-contest affair to me. I suppose I would enjoy the fellowship of the experience with other friends who are hunters.
Now, how would one disarm the American population? First of all, federal or state laws would need to make it a crime punishable by a $1,000 fine and one year in prison per weapon to possess a firearm. The population would then be given three months to turn in their guns, without penalty.
Hunters would be able to deposit their hunting weapons in a centrally located arsenal, heavily guarded, from which they would be able to withdraw them each hunting season upon presentation of a valid hunting license. The weapons would be required to be redeposited at the end of the season on pain of arrest. When hunters submit a request for their weapons, federal, state, and local checks would be made to establish that they had not been convicted of a violent crime since the last time they withdrew their weapons. In the process, arsenal staff would take at least a quick look at each hunter to try to affirm that he was not obviously unhinged.
It would have to be the case that the term "hunting weapon" did not include anti-tank ordnance, assault weapons, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, or other weapons of war.
All antique or interesting non-hunting weapons would be required to be delivered to a local or regional museum, also to be under strict 24-hour-a-day guard. There they would be on display, if the owner desired, as part of an interesting exhibit of antique American weapons, as family heirlooms from proud wars past or as part of collections.
Gun dealers could continue their work, selling hunting and antique firearms. They would be required to maintain very tight inventories. Any gun sold would be delivered immediately by the dealer to the nearest arsenal or the museum, not to the buyer.
The disarmament process would begin after the initial three-month amnesty. Special squads of police would be formed and trained to carry out the work. Then, on a random basis to permit no advance warning, city blocks and stretches of suburban and rural areas would be cordoned off and searches carried out in every business, dwelling, and empty building. All firearms would be seized. The owners of weapons found in the searches would be prosecuted: $1,000 and one year in prison for each firearm.
Clearly, since such sweeps could not take place all across the country at the same time. But fairly quickly there would begin to be gun-swept, gun-free areas where there should be no firearms. If there were, those carrying them would be subject to quick confiscation and prosecution. On the streets it would be a question of stop-and-search of anyone, even grandma with her walker, with the same penalties for "carrying."
The "gun lobby" would no doubt try to head off in the courts the new laws and the actions to implement them. They might succeed in doing so, although the new approach would undoubtedly prompt new, vigorous debate on the subject. In any case, some jurisdictions would undoubtedly take the opportunity of the chronic slowness of the courts to begin implementing the new approach.
America's long land and sea borders present another kind of problem. It is easy to imagine mega-gun dealerships installing themselves in Mexico, and perhaps in more remote parts of the Canadian border area, to funnel guns into the United States. That would constitute a problem for American immigration authorities and the U.S. Coast Guard, but not an insurmountable one over time.
There could conceivably also be a rash of score-settling during hunting season as people drew out their weapons, ostensibly to shoot squirrels and deer, and began eliminating various of their perceived two-footed enemies. Given the general nature of hunting weapons and the fact that such killings are frequently time-sensitive, that seems a lesser sort of issue.
That is my idea of how it could be done. The desire to do so on the part of the American people is another question altogether, but one clearly raised again by the Blacksburg tragedy.
Dan Simpson, a retired diplomat, is a member of the editorial boards of The Blade and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Click here to read David Codrea's (The War on Guns) take on this.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
“The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is.”
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Dismayed by the lack of marksmanship shown by their troops, Union veterans Col. William C. Church and Gen. George Wingate formed the National Rifle Association in 1871. The primary goal of the association would be to "promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis," according to a magazine editorial written by Church.
After being granted a charter by the state of New York on November 17, 1871, the NRA was founded. Civil War Gen. Ambrose Burnside, who was also the former governor of Rhode Island and a U.S. Senator, became the fledgling NRA's first president.
An important facet of the NRA's creation was the development of a practice ground. In 1872, with financial help from New York state, a site on Long Island, the Creed Farm, was purchased for the purpose of building a rifle range. Named Creedmoor, the range opened a year later, and it was there that the first annual matches were held.
Political opposition to the promotion of marksmanship in New York forced the NRA to find a new home for its range. In 1892, Creedmoor was deeded back to the state and NRA's matches moved to Sea Girt, New Jersey.
The NRA's interest in promoting the shooting sports among America's youth began in 1903 when NRA Secretary Albert S. Jones urged the establishment of rifle clubs at all major colleges, universities and military academies. By 1906, NRA's youth program was in full swing with more than 200 boys competing in matches at Sea Girt that summer. Today, youth programs are still a cornerstone of the NRA, with more than one million youth participating in NRA shooting sports events and affiliated programs with groups such as 4-H, the Boy Scouts of America, the American Legion, U.S. Jaycees and others.
Due to the overwhelming growth of NRA's shooting programs, a new range was needed. Gen. Ammon B. Crichfield, Adjutant General of Ohio, had begun construction of a new shooting facility on the shores of Lake Erie, 45 miles east of Toledo, Ohio. Camp Perry became the home of the annual National Matches, which have been the benchmark for excellence in marksmanship ever since. With nearly 6,000 people competing annually in pistol, smallbore and highpower events, the National Matches are one of the biggest sporting events held in the country today.
Through the association's magazine, The American Rifleman, members were kept abreast of new firearms bills, although the lag time in publishing often prevented the necessary information from going out quickly. In response to repeated attacks on the Second Amendment rights, NRA formed the Legislative Affairs Division in 1934. While NRA did not lobby directly at this time, it did mail out legislative facts and analyses to members, whereby they could take action on their own. In 1975, recognizing the critical need for political defense of the Second Amendment, NRA formed the Institute for Legislative Action, or ILA.
Meanwhile, the NRA continued its commitment to training, education and marksmanship. During World War II, the association offered its ranges to the government, developed training materials, encouraged members to serve as plant and home guard members and developed training materials for industrial security. NRA members even reloaded ammunition for those guarding war plants. Incidentally, the NRA's call to help arm Britain in 1940 resulted in the collection of more than 7,000 firearms for Britain's defense against potential invasion by Germany (Britain had virtually disarmed itself with a series of gun control laws enacted between World War I and World War II).
After the war, the NRA concentrated its efforts on another much-needed arena for education and training: the hunting community. In 1949, the NRA, in conjunction with the state of New York, established the first hunter education program. Hunter Education courses are now taught by state fish and game departments across the country and Canada and have helped make hunting one of the safest sports in existence. Due to increasing interest in hunting, NRA launched a new magazine in 1973, The American Hunter, dedicated solely to hunting issues year round. NRA continues its leadership role in hunting today with the Youth Hunter Education Challenge (YHEC), a program that allows youngsters to build on the skills they learned in basic hunter education courses. YHECs are now held in 43 states and three Canadian provinces, involving an estimated 40,000 young hunters.
The American Hunter and The American Rifleman were the mainstays of NRA publications until the debut of The American Guardian in 1997. The Guardian was created to cater to a more mainstream audience, with less emphasis on the technicalities of firearms and a more general focus on self-defense and recreational use of firearms. The Guardian was renamed America's 1st Freedom in June of 2000.
Law enforcement training was next on the priority list for program development. Although a special police school had been reinstated at Camp Perry in 1956, NRA became the only national trainer of law enforcement officers with the introduction of its NRA Police Firearms Instructor certification program in 1960. Today, there are more than 10,000 NRA-certified police and security firearms instructors. Additionally, top law enforcement shooters compete each year in eight different pistol and shotgun matches at the National Police Shooting Championships held in Jackson, Mississippi.
In civilian training, the NRA continues to be the leader in firearms education. Over 50,000 Certified Instructors now train about 750,000 gun owners a year. Courses are available in basic rifle, pistol, shotgun, muzzleloading firearms, personal protection, and even ammunition reloading. Additionally, nearly 1,000 Certified Coaches are specially trained to work with young competitive shooters. Since the establishment of the lifesaving Eddie Eagle® Gun Safety Program in 1988, more than 12 million pre-kindergarten to sixth grade children have learned that if they see a firearm in an unsupervised situation, they should "STOP. DON'T TOUCH. LEAVE THE AREA. TELL AN ADULT." Over the past seven years, Refuse To Be A Victim® seminars have helped more than 15,000 men and women develop their own personal safety plan using common sense strategies.
In 1990, NRA made a dramatic move to ensure that the financial support for firearms-related activities would be available now and for future generations. Establishing the NRA Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt organization, provided a means to raise millions of dollars to fund gun safety and educational projects of benefit to the general public. Contributions to the Foundation are tax-deductible and benefit a variety of American constituencies, including youths, women, hunters, competitive shooters, gun collectors, law enforcement agents and persons with physical disabilities.
While widely recognized today as a major political force and as America's foremost defender of Second Amendment rights, the NRA has, since its inception, been the premier firearms education organization in the world. But our successes would not be possible without the tireless efforts and countless hours of service our nearly three million members have given to champion Second Amendment rights and support NRA programs. As former Clinton spokesman George Stephanopoulos said, "Let me make one small vote for the NRA. They're good citizens. They call their Congressmen. They write. They vote. They contribute. And they get what they want over time."
There's a lot of debate going on right now about what the results of the Virginia Tech massacre might have been had just one targeted student been armed.
Here's a way we can approximate real world results: Stage an Airsoft mass shooting.
Gather around 20 friends or so. Pick a room to conduct the test. Everyone should have protective gear. One person should act as recorder/tally keeper, off-limits to the action.
One person will act as the shooter. He will enter the room where everyone else is seated in simulation of a classroom setting. He will block the only exit and begin shooting. In order to be faithful to the Virginia Tech scenario, no one will fight back. You can run, you can duck and cover, you can play dead, you can plead, you can pray, but you can't counterattack. Feel free to add to the pandemonium, though. If hit, raise your hand and remain in place.
What were the results?
Now we're going to repeat the test, but this time, one person in the room will have a concealed Airsoft pistol, and will draw and fire it at the shooter when they think they can. Again, to be faithful to real world conditions, this person should have practiced with the "weapon" beforehand to approximate the skill level of a trained and knowledgeable gun owner. And to keep things as realistic as possible, don't tell the shooter or anyone else this scenario is planned. THIS IS IMPORTANT. Let them get through one massacre, and then tell them you want to do it again to reconfirm the results of the first test--that way, the shooter will be just like Cho, or Harris or Klebold--he won't be expecting resistance from his prey--and the "victims" will likewise not have cause to react differently.
What were the results this time? If the person shooting back is hit, could he likely have continued firing? Note that this does not guarantee everyone will survive, or that there won't be collateral damage--what we're looking for is simply a difference in raw numbers of people shot. The recorder will call a halt to the action when the initial shooter is deemed stopped, and ask everyone to remain where they are and report if they've been hit and where.
Then we can up the ante. Pick a new shooter, again one who doesn't know there may be armed victims. Now add another concealed carrier in the classroom, or maybe a couple more--after all,those opposed to armed defense would have us believe the more people with guns, the worse such situations are likely to become--why not test that theory as well? As the number of concealed carriers goes up, what happens to the number of victims?
Feel free to come up with variations and rules of your own--this is just a rough idea at this stage. If anyone actually conducts these or similar tests, I'd be interested in hearing the results.
Disclaimer: If you do this, I'm not responsible for any consequences. Here's some information you may find useful, but I ain't vouching for it. It might not be a bad idea to let local "authorities" know about your intentions so you don't get mistaken for real shooters and shot. Even firing Airsoft equipment may be illegal in some jurisdictions/prohibited in some locations. You may want to get everyone to sign waivers, but that's not legal advice. Here's an online manual I found-- follow its suggestions at your own risk.
The facts are that CCW permit holders are among the most law abiding citizens in our nation. For example, in Florida, with perhaps the most liberal CCW permit laws anywhere, only .02% of CCW permit holders were involved in a crime. When you add into this the fact that their crime rates fell to 4% below the national average from a high of 36% above, it is clear that CCW permit holders are not the problem. In addition, in every state where shall issue permit laws have been enacted, incidents of mass murder have gone down.
When I look at the facts in the Virginia Tech Massacre, I too am struck with the inevitable conclusion that, if only one of his potential victims had been armed, he could have been stopped. If only the teachers had been armed, he could have been stopped.
For example reference the Appalachian School of Law shooting (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appalachian_School_of_Law_shooting) where two students with legally owned firearms subdued the suspect before he could take anymore lives. In addition, lawfully armed citizens prevent a crime to themselves or others an estimated 2.5 Million times a year. This hardly indicates a need to increase the over 20,000+ gun control laws already on the books with another piece of useless "feel good" legislation. None of the estimated 80+ Million law abiding gun owners killed anyone that horrible day, nor did they commit an act of mass murder.
Gun-free Zones do nothing to stop homicidal criminals bent on mass murder. All they do is provide a fertile hunting ground with no means for the victims to fight back.
Gun-free zones should be scrapped as the failure they have proven to be. Law abiding CCW permit holders should be allowed to carry in schools and the teachers should be allowed to arm themselves, just like airline pilots. In Utah, it is legal for CCW permit holders to carry a concealed weapon into schools. There has never been an incidence of mass murder perpetrated in a Utah school, least of all by a CCW permit holder. Israeli teachers are armed, and now so are the teachers Thailand in response to terroristic attacks. Why then aren't our teachers similarly prepared? It's time we pulled our collective heads out of the sand.
I have one child in 1st grade and another to start kindergarten later this year. I would feel a whole lot better knowing that my childs teachers were equipped to protect my childs life with something other than pleading with the maniac to "please spare their lives".
By Fred Thompson
One of the things that's got to be going through a lot of peoples' minds now is how one man with two handguns, that he had to reload time and time again, could go from classroom to classroom on the Virginia Tech campus without being stopped. Much of the answer can be found in policies put in place by the university itself.
Virginia, like 39 other states, allows citizens with training and legal permits to carry concealed weapons. That means that Virginians regularly sit in movie theaters and eat in restaurants among armed citizens. They walk, joke, and rub shoulders everyday with people who responsibly carry firearms — and are far safer than they would be in San Francisco, Oakland, Detroit, Chicago, New York City, or Washington, D.C., where such permits are difficult or impossible to obtain.
The statistics are clear. Communities that recognize and grant Second Amendment rights to responsible adults have a significantly lower incidence of violent crime than those that do not. More to the point, incarcerated criminals tell criminologists that they consider local gun laws when they decide what sort of crime they will commit, and where they will do so.
Still, there are a lot of people who are just offended by the notion that people can carry guns around. They view everybody, or at least many of us, as potential murderers prevented only by the lack of a convenient weapon. Virginia Tech administrators overrode Virginia state law and threatened to expel or fire anybody who brings a weapon onto campus.
In recent years, however, armed Americans — not on-duty police officers — have successfully prevented a number of attempted mass murders. Evidence from Israel, where many teachers have weapons and have stopped serious terror attacks, has been documented. Supporting, though contrary, evidence from Great Britain, where strict gun controls have led to violent crime rates far higher than ours, is also common knowledge.
So Virginians asked their legislators to change the university's "concealed carry" policy to exempt people 21 years of age or older who have passed background checks and taken training classes. The university, however, lobbied against that bill, and a top administrator subsequently praised the legislature for blocking the measure.
The logic behind this attitude baffles me, but I suspect it has to do with a basic difference in worldviews. Some people think that power should exist only at the top, and everybody else should rely on "the authorities" for protection.
Despite such attitudes, average Americans have always made up the front line against crime. Through programs like Neighborhood Watch and Amber Alert, we are stopping and catching criminals daily. Normal people tackled "shoe bomber" Richard Reid as he was trying to blow up an airliner. It was a truck driver who found the D.C. snipers. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that civilians use firearms to prevent at least a half million crimes annually.
When people capable of performing acts of heroism are discouraged or denied the opportunity, our society is all the poorer. And from the selfless examples of the passengers on Flight 93 on 9/11 to Virginia Tech professor Liviu Librescu, a Holocaust survivor who sacrificed himself to save his students earlier this week, we know what extraordinary acts of heroism ordinary citizens are capable of.
Many other universities have been swayed by an anti-gun, anti-self defense ideology. I respect their right to hold those views, but I challenge their decision to deny Americans the right to protect themselves on their campuses — and then proudly advertise that fact to any and all.
Whenever I've seen one of those "Gun-free Zone" signs, especially outside of a school filled with our youngest and most vulnerable citizens, I've always wondered exactly who these signs are directed at. Obviously, they don't mean much to the sort of man who murdered 32 people just a few days ago.
— Fred Thompson is an actor and former United States senator from Tennessee.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
"The bucolic campus of Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, Va., would seem to have little in common with the Trolley Square shopping mall in Salt Lake City. Yet both share an important characteristic, common to the site of almost every other notorious mass murder in recent years: They are "gun-free zones."
Forty American states now have "shall issue" or similar laws, by which officials issue a pistol carry permit upon request to any adult who passes a background check and (in most states) a safety class. Research by Carlisle Moody of the College of William and Mary, and others, suggests that these laws provide law-abiding citizens some protection against violent crime. But in many states there are certain places, especially schools, set aside as off-limits for guns. In Virginia, universities aren't "gun-free zones" by statute, but college officials are allowed to impose anti-gun rules. The result is that mass murderers know where they can commit their crimes.
Private property owners also have the right to prohibit lawful gun possession. And some shopping malls have adopted anti-gun rules. Trolley Square was one, as announced by an unequivocal sign, "No weapons allowed on Trolley Square property."
In February of this year a young man walked past the sign prohibiting him from carrying a gun on the premises and began shooting people who moments earlier were leisurely shopping at Trolley Square. He killed five.
Fortunately, someone else -- off-duty Ogden, Utah, police officer Kenneth Hammond -- also did not comply with the mall's rules. After hearing "popping" sounds, Mr. Hammond investigated and immediately opened fire on the gunman. With his aggressive response, Mr. Hammond prevented other innocent bystanders from getting hurt. He bought time for the local police to respond, while stopping the gunman from hunting down other victims.
At Virginia Tech's sprawling campus in southwestern Va., the local police arrived at the engineering building a few minutes after the start of the murder spree, and after a few critical minutes, broke through the doors that Cho Seung-Hui had apparently chained shut. From what we know now, Cho committed suicide when he realized he'd soon be confronted by the police. But by then, 30 people had been murdered.
But let's take a step back in time. Last year the Virginia legislature defeated a bill that would have ended the "gun-free zones" in Virginia's public universities. At the time, a Virginia Tech associate vice president praised the General Assembly's action "because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus." In an August 2006 editorial for the Roanoke Times, he declared: "Guns don't belong in classrooms. They never will. Virginia Tech has a very sound policy preventing same."
Actually, Virginia Tech's policy only made the killer safer, for it was only the law-abiding victims, and not the criminal, who were prevented from having guns. Virginia Tech's policy bans all guns on campus (except for police and the university's own security guards); even faculty members are prohibited from keeping guns in their cars.
Virginia Tech thus went out of its way to prevent what happened at a Pearl, Miss., high school in 1997, where assistant principal Joel Myrick retrieved a handgun from his car and apprehended a school shooter. Or what happened at Appalachian Law School, in Grundy, Va., in 2002, when a mass murder was stopped by two students with law-enforcement experience, one of whom retrieved his own gun from his vehicle. Or in Edinboro, Pa., a few days after the Pearl event, when a school attack ended after a nearby merchant used a shotgun to force the attacker to desist. Law-abiding citizens routinely defend themselves with firearms. Annually, Americans drive-off home invaders a half-million times, according to a 1997 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In Utah, there is no "gun-free schools" exception to the licensed carry law. In K-12 schools and in universities, teachers and other adults can and do legally carry concealed guns. In Utah, there has never been a Columbine-style attack on a school. Nor has there been any of the incidents predicted by self-defense opponents -- such as a teacher drawing a gun on a disrespectful student, or a student stealing a teacher's gun.
Israel uses armed teachers as part of a successful program to deter terrorist attacks on schools. Buddhist teachers in southern Thailand are following the Israeli example, because of Islamist terrorism.
After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S., long-time gun control advocates, including Sen. Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.), agreed that making airplane cockpits into "gun-free zones" had made airplanes much more dangerous for everyone except hijackers. Corrective legislation, supported by large bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress, allowed pilots to carry firearms, while imposing rigorous gun-safety training on pilots who want to carry.
In many states, "gun-free schools" legislation was enacted hastily in the late 1980s or early 1990s due to concerns about juvenile crime. Aimed at juvenile gangsters, the poorly written and overbroad statutes had the disastrous consequence of rendering teachers unable to protect their students.
Reasonable advocates of gun control can still press for a wide variety of items on their agenda, while helping to reform the "gun-free zones" that have become attractive havens for mass killers. If legislators or administrators want to require extensive additional training for armed faculty and other adults, that's fine. Better that some victims be armed than none at all.
The founder of the University of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson, understood the harms resulting from the type of policy created at Virginia Tech. In his "Commonplace Book," Jefferson copied a passage from Cesare Beccaria, the founder of criminology, which was as true on Monday as it always has been:
"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms . . . disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes . . . Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man."
Mr. Kopel is research director of the Independence Institute in Golden, Colo., and co-author of the law school textbook, "Gun Control and Gun Rights" (NYU Press)."
"BELLEVUE, WA – Alarming new details about Virginia Tech gunman Cho Seung-Hui underscore the importance of a citizen’s individual right to keep and bear arms, the Second Amendment Foundation said today.
“There were abundant warning signs that Cho posed a serious threat to the campus community,” said SAF founder Alan Gottlieb, “yet here he was running loose and committing mayhem. And all that seems to be on the minds of many in the media and at the offices of gun control extremists is figuring out how to exploit this horrible tragedy to erode and eventually destroy the right, and the means, of self-defense.
“If this case demonstrates anything,” he continued, “it is the ineptitude of a system that is damaged if not broken beyond repair. He was taken to a psychiatric hospital for evaluation in December 2005 by the police, and a Montgomery County district court ruled him a danger to himself or others. But a state doctor found his ‘insight and judgment’ to be ‘normal,’ and he was only given outpatient treatment.
“How many other people like Cho are out there,” Gottlieb questioned. “Nobody knows, and it is because of that clear and present danger that Americans should not be browbeaten or bullied into surrendering their civil right to have a firearm for personal protection.
“In the past few days, I’ve lost count of the number of times people have asked me why Americans should have a right to buy a gun,” Gottlieb noted. “The answer is simple. It’s because there are monsters like Cho Seung-Hui among us who are willing to kill without provocation or remorse. Police can’t always be there when they are needed, and people like Cho do not commit carnage by appointment.
“Attempts by the state legislature to allow legally-licensed citizens to carry on campus were stymied, with the approval of a Virginia Tech spokesman,” Gottlieb recalled. “Nobody can say for sure whether an armed student or teacher could have intervened in time to save lives, but we do know what happens when they can’t.
“This kind of thing should never happen, but it does when people are denied the means to fight back,” Gottlieb concluded. “If we learn anything from this tragedy, it is the value of the Second Amendment and self-defense, for those who value their lives and the lives of others.”"
--found via The War on Guns
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
BELLEVUE, WA - Today, as the nation is mourning Monday's horrible loss at Virginia Tech, this should be a time of deep reflection and offering our prayers for the victims and their heartbroken families.
Sadly, noted Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, some groups and individuals are using this terrible crime to further their own political cause: the continued erosion of
firearm civil rights and the abolition of firearm ownership in the United States.
"Almost from the moment the first news broke about this monstrous crime," Gottlieb said, "we at SAF have been forced to respond to staccato attacks from gun control organizations whose goal is to
destroy the Second Amendment. Perhaps we should be astonished, but in fact, we are once again simply disappointed in the morbid exploitation of this event. We are grateful, however, that the media
has given us an opportunity to respond to these attacks. There was a time in the past when that did not happen.
"These groups, that so quickly have tried to politicize Virginia Tech's sorrow and loss, have a well-documented history of shamelessly dancing in the blood of crime victims to advance their agenda," he continued. "Such deplorable behavior should not be forgotten by the American public. Eighty million law-abiding gun owners in this country did not go to Virginia Tech or some other college campus yesterday to unleash carnage. They have harmed no one, and their civil rights should not be erased in response.
"Today, we should all stand together as Americans with broken hearts," Gottlieb added. "Today, we are all Virginia Tech students and alumni. Today, we are all diminished by this great loss.
"There will be plenty of time in the days and weeks ahead to analyze what happened, to try and make some sense of such a senseless act, and to examine what may have gone wrong and learn from it," Gottlieb stated. "For now, let us direct our emotions toward where they will do the most good. Let us offer our prayers and support to the families of the victims, and to the thousands of students whose lives will be forever changed by this despicable, cowardly act."
Monday, April 16, 2007
--by LawDog (click to read the whole thing)
"Oh, Christ, here we go again.
Some maladjusted little bugsnipe gets his mental panties into a bunch and goes flat boiling nutters with a gun in one of the few places where he knows someone isn't going to put him down like a rabid dog during his first magazine.
And -- as usual -- the Mainstream Media is bleating about needing more Gun Control.
Gun Control is a failure. You simply can not expect those who would do murder -- those who would violate the highest law -- you can not expect them to obey a lesser law."
"April 16, 2007, just might be a turning point in the battle to restore gun rights to Americans. The tragedy at Virginia Tech today, with more than 30 people being killed in a premeditated murder spree, will be the fulcrum upon which the anti-gun rights forces leverage their efforts to restrict (destroy, if possible) your right to not only own guns, but to protect yourself and your family.
Quite simply, this is the mass shooting the anti-self defense forces have been waiting for, as we will see over the coming days and weeks. The papers are already drawn up; the proposed restrictions were penned long ago; they have merely been waiting for this moment.
Lost in the coming cacophony will be the utter failure of the "perfect" gun law -- a total gun ban. You see, on that university campus, no one is allowed to have a gun for self protection in dorms or classrooms. It is the latest in a long string of murderous failures of "gun free" zones, or as they are better called, "victim-rich environments."
According to the school's "Campus and Workplace Violence Prevention Policy":
"The university's employees, students, and volunteers, or any visitor or other third party attending a sporting, entertainment, or educational event, or visiting an academic or administrative office building or residence hall, are further prohibited from carrying, maintaining, or storing a firearm or weapon on any university facility, even if the owner has a valid permit, when it is not required by the individual's job, or in accordance with the relevant University Student Life Policies.
Any such individual who is reported or discovered to possess a firearm or weapon on university property will be asked to remove it immediately. Failure to comply may result in a student judicial referral and/or arrest, or an employee disciplinary action and/or arrest."
(Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Policy 5616, Campus and Workplace Violence Prevention Policy, http://www.policies.vt.edu/5616.pdf)
A similar situation to the one that happened at Virginia Tech occurred on January 16th, 2002 at Appalachian Law School in Grundy, Virginia. A disgruntled former student began a similar shooting spree. The difference in this case was that the attack was stopped by three individuals, two of whom were legally armed with handguns. Unfortunately, the attack was not stopped until three people had been killed and three more wounded. Why did it take so long to stop the attack? The good guys had to retrieve their guns from their parked cars before they could confront the gunman. ALS was a gun-free zone, you know.
Barely more than a year ago House Bill 1572 couldn't even make it out of committee in the Virginia General Assembly. The bill would have made it legal for students and staff at Virginia universities to have guns for their own protection. Today's shooter did not wait for such a law, and took advantage of the government-mandated victim-state.
When House Bill 1572 was defeated, state newspapers reported: "Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker was happy to hear the bill was defeated. 'I'm sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly's actions because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus.'"
Once again, the desire to "feel safe" prompts decisions which actually make people less safe.
What does it mean to America's gun owners? It certainly sounds the battle cry for those who enacted, then lost, the ability to ban full-capacity magazines for defensive firearms. Expect a quick call for limiting magazine capacity--and thus, the ability to fully protect yourself and your family. There may well be calls for the banning of all autoloading (semi-automatic) firearms, even though those have been in use for more than 100 years.
Fortunately, the political landscape is much different than it was when the Brady Bill and the Clinton Gun Ban were passed in the early 1990s. Those acts helped pull together a fragmented firearms industry which, until then, had kept out of politics, leaving that to the NRA. The firearms industry now understands the threat, as do individual gun owners who use guns for recreation, but especially for self-protection. Passage of the so-called "assault weapon" ban resulted in the Republican Party taking control of Congress, according to President Bill Clinton. The gun issue is largely credited with keeping a Republican in the White House since then. Elected officials of all stripes know that any proposal to infringe on gun rights is a third rail, capable of cutting short almost any political career.
Certainly, some closet gun banners will be emboldened by this tragedy and will come forward, counting on a groundswell of public outrage to carry the day for repressive gun control laws, much as it did in England and Australia after those countries experienced similar shootings. The disturbing fact that the violent crime rate skyrocketed in both countries following the confiscation of guns from honest people will not quell the zeal of those who dream of a country where the criminals are free to prey on the defenseless.
They long for the day when they can bring the failed experiment of "gun free" zones to every town, neighborhood, and home in America.
Until Monday, April 16, it was thought that gun control would be an issue politicians would try to duck over the next 18 months. That may have changed. What has not changed, though, is the awareness of the American public that they need firearms for personal protection. The vivid images of helpless people during Hurricane Katrina being victimized by thugs, with no police to help, crystallized the understanding that each of us is responsible for our own safety,. Today, we all know we can certainly take advantage of help from official sources, but we also are clear that we should never give up our ability to help ourselves.
Today's shootings are terrible. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families. We don't want to inject politics into this, but to ignore this is to pretend the sun doesn't rise each day. The assault on our rights surely will come.
Whether we gun owners get swept away by a tsunami of gun restrictions, or swim to the top with logic and organized persuasion depends, I think, on the intensity and the quality of our reaction. One thing is for sure. This is the fight which will determine the future of gun rights, the firearms industry, our ability to protect our families, and the strength of our Constitutional protections."
Friday, April 6, 2007
Have you ever defended yourself from a crime in your home, in your business, or in public by using a gun? Perhaps you warded off a potential attacker by simply showing a gun?
40 states now allow their citizens to obtain conceal-carry permits for handguns. Some people say that's dangerous, while others say it allows them to protect themselves.
If you have a story of self-defense involving the aid of a gun and would like to tell it to 20/20, please fill out the form below. A "20/20" producer may contact you.
"Here's another example. What do you think is more dangerous, a house with a pool or a house with a gun? When, for "20/20," I asked some kids, all said the house with the gun is more dangerous. I'm sure their parents would agree. Yet a child is 100 times more likely to die in a swimming pool than in a gun accident.
Parents don't know that partly because the media hate guns and gun accidents make bigger headlines. Ask yourself which incident would be more likely to be covered on TV."
Thursday, April 5, 2007
His name is Charles.
Her name was Clara.
Was. Past tense.
The first and last time Charles saw Clara alive, she was being dragged by her hair through the CNN Center in Atlanta. Clara's tormentor ordered Charles out of the way, and instead of standing his ground to defend an obviously distressed woman, he obeyed the thug's order and let them pass.
Charles' choice was to go in search of a guard instead of personally coming to the woman's aid, and the tragic result is that Clara is now dead.
Going to find "help" turned out to be no help at all.
Could Charles have saved Clara? It's possible he could not. Perhaps Charles would have also been a victim. We can never be sure.
What we do know is that Charles obeyed a thug – refused to defend the defenseless – and two people are now dead.
What would you have done?
What would I have done?
There was a time when a majority of American men would almost surely have come to Clara's aid. They believed in an ethic that said, "Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter." (Proverbs 24:11)
It was a day when men, recognizing the reality of evil, carried weapons that enabled them to stand in the gap for those being unjustly tormented and threatened. Virtually any man on the street could come to the aid of a victim like Clara.
That was then; this is now.
Charles is probably a good, law-abiding citizen of modern America. Therefore he knows all too well he cannot carry a weapon to defend people like Clara without asking permission of the government.
Long past are the days of George Tucker, a man wounded twice in America's Revolutionary War, who wrote: The right of self-defense is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever … the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any color or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction."
Or again, William Rawle, appointed as a U.S. attorney by President George Washington: "No clause in the Constitution could by any rule of construction, be conceived to give the Congress a power to disarm the people. A flagitious attempt could only be made under some general pretense by a state legislature. But if, in any blind pursuit of inordinate power, either [state or federal government] should attempt it, [the Second] Amendment may be appealed to as a restraint on both."
Most Americans today probably couldn't even imagine living when the laws in Virginia made men subject to prosecution for NOT carrying their weapons with them at all times, even (gasp!) being specifically mandated to bring them to church!
Yes, we're a long way from those days, and I wonder if perhaps we've so lost the ability to govern ourselves that we deserve to be helpless in the face of evil.
Yet, as soon as I write that, I come back to a simple truth: Clara didn't deserve to die. She had a perfect right to expect someone – anyone – with a sense of decency and courage to come to her aid in time of need.
Charles did not. No one else did.
We don't have to guess what George Tucker, William Rawle and the other Founding Fathers would say about our "gun control" laws that restrain only the law-abiding.
All we have to do is read their writings.
And perhaps ponder this horrible truth: Clara is dead.
Bob Allen has worked for more than 20 years as a media producer/consultant and voiceover artist. He lives near Nashville, Tenn.
Tuesday, April 3, 2007
One of the most common arguments gun-prohibitionists use is that the term "militia" in the Second Amendment refers to States' right to maintain an army -- that is, the National Guard.
We all know better, and here's proof. Following is a scan from the 1771 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. You can see a scan of the whole page, plus the cover page, in PDF format here.
The definition of militia reads:
MILITIA, in general, denotes the body of soldiers, or those who make profession of arms.
.....In a more restrained sense, militia denotes the trained bands of a town or country, who arm themselves, upon a short warning, for their own defence. So that, in this sense, militia is opposed to regular or stated troops.
.....For the direction and command of the militia, the king constitutes lords-lieutenants of each country.
What struck me as particularly ironic, was the following sentence:
"Wittmier said he didn't believe campus police were aware of the restraining order against Rowan. He also said Rowan likely did not have permission to carry a handgun on campus."First of all, when it came to protecting her life, the restraining order was about as useful as the "Gun Free Zone". Second, whether or not the psycho-ex had permission to carry a handgun on campus is immaterial. Criminals by definition do not obey the law.
According to the news story, there were numerous clues about what was going to happen. Looking back it was an inevitability, so why did no one do anything to prevent it? Why did no one give the victim the protection she needed so desperately? It is a fact the Police cannot protect you and are under no obligation to. Their job is to come after the fact and draw an outline around your corpse and collect evidence. In a life or death situation, the only one who can protect you, is you.
We'll never know if she attempted to reason with him. We'll never know if she tried to use Karate or Kung-Fu. We'll never know if she attempted to kick him in the groin or gouge out his eyes with her keys... One thing we do know is that she was unarmed in a gun free zone when her attacker struck. A gun may not have saved her life, but it certainly would have "leveled the playing field" with the criminal.
I have two young daughters, and when they grow up, if they are in a similar situation, I will make sure that they are safe. They will be armed and know how to shoot. They will be able to protect themselves!
This tragedy could have been prevented. The victim could have been found standing over the corpse of her psycho-ex with a smoking gun, instead of on the floor in a pool of blood.
We need to change the law in this state to allow law abiding citizens to carry a concealed weapon on school grounds. We need to allow the potential victims out there their Second Amendment right to carry a gun for protection. Until we do this, there will be more restraining orders and more dead victims. How many more dead victims do we need?