Category Archive 'Virginia Tech Shootings'
23 Apr 2007

Mark Steyn on Liberal Hoplophobia

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Mark Steyn comments pretty acerbically on the academic intelligentsia’s aversion to weapons and self-defense… and to reality.

…at Yale, the dean of student affairs, Betty Trachtenberg, reacted to the Virginia Tech murders by taking decisive action: She banned all stage weapons from plays performed on campus. After protests from the drama department, she modified her decisive action to “permit the use of obviously fake weapons” such as plastic swords. …

I think we have a problem in our culture not with “realistic weapons” but with being realistic about reality. After all, we already “fear guns,” at least in the hands of NRA members. Otherwise, why would we ban them from so many areas of life? Virginia Tech, remember, was a “gun-free zone,” formally and proudly designated as such by the college administration. Yet the killer kept his guns and ammo on the campus. It was a “gun-free zone” except for those belonging to the guy who wanted to kill everybody. Had the Second Amendment not been in effect repealed by VT, someone might have been able to do as two students did five years ago at the Appalachian Law School: When a would-be mass murderer showed up, they rushed for their vehicles, grabbed their guns and pinned him down until the cops arrived.

But you can’t do that at Virginia Tech. Instead, the administration has created a “Gun-Free School Zone.” Or, to be more accurate, they’ve created a sign that says “Gun-Free School Zone.” And, like a loopy medieval sultan, they thought that simply declaring it to be so would make it so. The “gun-free zone” turned out to be a fraud — not just because there were at least two guns on the campus last Monday, but in the more important sense that the college was promoting to its students a profoundly deluded view of the world.

I live in northern New England, which has a very low crime rate, in part because it has a high rate of gun ownership. We do have the occasional murder, however. A few years back, a couple of alienated loser teens from a small Vermont town decided they were going to kill somebody, steal his ATM cards, and go to Australia. So they went to a remote house in the woods a couple of towns away, knocked on the door, and said their car had broken down. The guy thought their story smelled funny so he picked up his Glock and told ’em to get lost. So they concocted a better story, and pretended to be students doing an environmental survey. Unfortunately, the next old coot in the woods was sick of environmentalists and chased ’em away. Eventually they figured they could spend months knocking on doors in rural Vermont and New Hampshire and seeing nothing for their pains but cranky guys in plaid leveling both barrels through the screen door. So even these idiots worked it out: Where’s the nearest place around here where you’re most likely to encounter gullible defenseless types who have foresworn all means of resistance? Answer: Dartmouth College. So they drove over the Connecticut River, rang the doorbell, and brutally murdered a couple of well-meaning liberal professors. Two depraved misfits of crushing stupidity (to judge from their diaries) had nevertheless identified precisely the easiest murder victims in the twin-state area. To promote vulnerability as a moral virtue is not merely foolish. Like the new Yale props department policy, it signals to everyone that you’re not in the real world.

The “gun-free zone” fraud isn’t just about banning firearms or even a symptom of academia’s distaste for an entire sensibility of which the Second Amendment is part and parcel but part of a deeper reluctance of critical segments of our culture to engage with reality. Michelle Malkin wrote a column a few days ago connecting the prohibition against physical self-defense with “the erosion of intellectual self-defense,” and the retreat of college campuses into a smothering security blanket of speech codes and “safe spaces” that’s the very opposite of the principles of honest enquiry and vigorous debate on which university life was founded. And so we “fear guns,” and “verbal violence,” and excessively realistic swashbuckling in the varsity production of ”The Three Musketeers.” What kind of functioning society can emerge from such a cocoon?

Whole thing.

22 Apr 2007

No Connection?

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The James Lewis column I just linked has provoked some vehemently negative dissent from Hilzoy on the left, who was so enraged that she accidentally deleted her first draft, but managed finally to conclude:

it’s just another hit piece against an academic department that makes precisely no attempt to characterize that department accurately, that Lewis chooses instead to treat the members of that department as mere instantiations of some “trend” that exists only in his head, and that he does this at a time when the people he uses as political props must be suffering enormously, makes it lower than dirt.

Dan Riehl, speaking from a rightwing perspective, is even more indignant:

For God’s sakes, are there no limits to which some won’t go to, quite frankly, pathetically attempt to score a political point? Seung-Hui Cho was insane. He could have studied nothing but The Wealth of Nations, the Constitution, the Boyscout Manual and Mary Had a Little Lamb and still he would likely have emerged as the psychotic killer he eventually became.

Attempting to construct a false logic for perceived political gain to explain away sheer madness is as contorted and dangerous as lunacy itself. There are plenty of good reasons to find fault with the Liberal philosophy that holds sway within all levels of our contemporary system of education. Seung-Hui Cho is not one of them.

Anyone attempting to invoke his name for the benefit of conservative thinking isn’t thinking much at all, let alone conservatively. Such tactics leave conservatism looking foolish and those attempting them as if they are in need of a good couch after a hefty shot of Thorazine. In fact, stopping at calling such efforts crazy may be too kind. Ultimately, they are more dangerous than even that.

Sorry, Dan, Hil, I don’t think it’s in the least difficult to draw a connection between the 23-year-old shooter’s pathological rage and accusatory rhetoric, featuring wildly-exaggerated and not particularly accurately-directed grievances, and the entire leftwing “culture of complaint” dominating the perspective of the majority of faculty at most American universities today, including Virginia Tech.

Just look at these references by Virginia Tech’s own Nikki Giovanni in a widely-hailed poem, titled “We Are Virginia Tech,” read aloud at a Memorial Convocation last Wednesday.

We do not understand this tragedy. We know we did nothing to deserve it, but neither does a child in Africa dying of AIDS, neither do the invisible children walking the night away to avoid being captured by the rogue army, neither does the baby elephant watching his community being devastated for ivory, neither does the Mexican child looking for fresh water, neither does the Appalachian infant killed in the middle of the night in his crib in the home his father built with his own hands being run over by a boulder because the land was destabilized. No one deserves a tragedy.

1:44 video

Are Cho’s irrational accusations really a completely different species of rhetoric from Giovanni’s accusatory baby elephant and Appalachian infant?

You had a hundred billion chances and ways to have avoided today. ‘But you decided to spill my blood. You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option. The decision was yours. Now you have blood on your hands that will never wash off.

You have vandalized my heart, raped my soul and torched my conscience.

Are his economic grievances really at odds with the class warfare routinely treated as a background assumption of the conventional contemporary academic perspective?

Your Mercedes wasn’t enough, you brats. Your golden necklaces weren’t enough, you snobs. Your trust funds wasn’t enough. Your vodka and cognac wasn’t enough. All your debaucheries weren’t enough. Those weren’t enough to fulfill your hedonistic needs. You had everything.”

Envy, narcissism, and paranoia were key factors motivating Cho’s attacks and they are also the vital ingredients in the witches’ brew of leftist ideology presiding over American Academia today.

22 Apr 2007

Was Cho Taught to Hate?

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James Lewis, at American Thinker, wonders if his university’s faculty and curriculum might not have some connection to the Virginia Tech tragedy.

Yes, I know. Tens of thousands of ordinary college students are lonely, full of rage, lost and frustrated. A few percent are psychotically disturbed, and some of them can kill. Our big factory colleges are alienating. Take millions of adolescents, and at any time there are bound to be quite a few confused and seething souls walking loose. Just visit downtown in any American or European city, and you can see all the lost and disturbed living in their private hells. And no, that doesn’t excuse executing thirty-two innocents.

Still, I wonder — was Cho taught to hate? Whatever he learned in his classes — did it enable him to rage at his host country, to hate the students he envied so murderously? Was he subtly encouraged to aggrandize himself by destroying others? Was his pathology enabled by the PC university? Or to ask the question differently — was Cho ever taught to respect others, to admire the good things about his host country, and to discipline himself to build a positive life?

And that answer is readily available on the websites of Cho’s English Department at Virginia Tech. This is a wonder world of PC weirdness. English studies at VT are a post-modern Disney World in which nihilism, moral and sexual boundary breaking, and fantasies of Marxist revolutionary violence are celebrated. They show up in a lot of faculty writing. Not by all the faculty, but probably by more than half.

Just check out their websites.

Read the whole thing.

21 Apr 2007

Peggy Noonan: Where Are the Grownups:?

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Peggy Noonan had a good day in the Wall Street Journal today:

There seems to me a sort of broad national diminution of common sense in our country that we don’t notice in the day-to-day but that become obvious after a story like this. Common sense says a person like Cho Seung-hui, who was obviously dangerous and unstable, should have been separated from the college population. Common sense says someone should have stepped in like an adult, like a person in authority, and taken him away. It is only common sense that if a person like Cho leaves a self-aggrandizing, self-celebrating, self-pitying video diary of himself to be played by the mass media, the mass media should not play it and not publicize it, not make it famous. Common sense says that won’t help.

And all those big cops, scores of them, hundreds, with the latest, heaviest, most sophisticated gear, all the weapons and helmets and safety vests and belts. It looked like the brute force of the state coming up against uncontrollable human will.

But it also looked muscle bound. And the schools themselves more and more look muscle bound, weighed down with laws and legal assumptions and strange prohibitions.

The school officials I saw, especially the head of the campus psychological services, seemed to me endearing losers. But endearing is too strong. I mean “not obviously and vividly offensive.” The school officials who gave all the highly competent, almost smooth and practiced news conferences seemed to me like white, bearded people who were educated in softness. Cho was “troubled”; he clearly had “issues”; it would have been good if someone had “reached out”; it’s too bad America doesn’t have better “support services.” They don’t use direct, clear words, because if they’re blunt, they’re implicated.

The literally white-bearded academic who was head of the campus counseling center was on Paula Zahn Wednesday night suggesting the utter incompetence of officials to stop a man who had stalked two women, set a fire in his room, written morbid and violent plays and poems, been expelled from one class, and been declared by a judge to be “mentally ill” was due to the lack of a government “safety net.” In a news conference, he decried inadequate “funding for mental health services in the United States.” Way to take responsibility. Way to show the kids how to dodge.

The anxiety of our politicians that there may be an issue that goes unexploited was almost — almost — comic. They mean to seem sensitive, and yet wind up only stroking their supporters. I believe Rep. Jim Moran was first out of the gate with the charge that what Cho did was President Bush’s fault. I believe Sen. Barack Obama was second, equating the literal killing of humans with verbal coarseness. Wednesday there was Sen. Barbara Boxer equating the violence of the shootings with the “global warming challenge” and “today’s Supreme Court decision” upholding a ban on partial-birth abortion.

One watches all of this and wonders: Where are the grown-ups?

21 Apr 2007

Real Solution to School Shootings

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And to the production of computer viruses.

In the Netherlands, private enterprise has found it.

21 Apr 2007

Crazy People Not Permitted to Buy Guns

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The ever-astute New York Times has discovered that, in theory, existing federal law should have prevented the perpetrator of the Virginia Tech shootings from purchasing a gun.

When you buy a gun, you are required to fill out and sign a form which asks if you have ever been adjudicated legally incompetent, mentally incapacitated, or been involuntarily committed to a mental institution.

Firearms Purchase Eligibility

This sort of thing is exactly like the Post Office asking you to sign a form promising that the package you are mailing does not contain prohibited items or a bomb.

Asking ordinary people to fill out these kinds of forms is a complete waste of time, and the persons the form is intended to block will always simply lie.

And there is no point in singling out Virginia. Local adaptations of the same federal form 4473 are used in every state.

Example: Minnesota version

WASHINGTON, April 20 — Under federal law, the Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho should have been prohibited from purchasing a gun after a Virginia court declared him to be a danger to himself in late 2005 and sent him for psychiatric treatment, a government official and several legal experts said Friday.

Federal law prohibits anyone who has been “adjudicated as a mental defective,” as well as those who have been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility, from purchasing a gun.

A special justice’s order in late 2005 that directed Mr. Cho to seek outpatient treatment and declared him to be mentally ill and an imminent danger to himself fits the federal criteria and should have immediately disqualified him, said Richard J. Bonnie, chairman of the Supreme Court of Virginia’s Commission on Mental Health Law Reform. A spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms also said if that if found mentally defective by a court, Mr. Cho should have been denied a gun.

The federal law defines adjudication as a mental defective to include “determination by a court, board, commission or other lawful authority” that as a result of mental illness, the person is a “danger to himself or others.”

Mr. Cho’s ability to purchase two guns despite his history of mental illness has cast new attention on Virginia’s relatively lax gun laws. And since states are supposed to enforce federal gun laws, the sales raise questions about whether Virgina — and other states — fully comply with the federal restrictions.

20 Apr 2007

Yale is Run by Idiots

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We’ve known that since early in our own Freshman year, of course. But Dean of Undergraduate Affairs Betty Trachtenburg (PC-enforcer for the University) really outdid herself in the liberal stupidity department with this response to the Virginia Tech Shootings.

Oldest College Daily:

In the wake of Monday’s massacre at Virginia Tech in which a student killed 32 people, Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg has limited the use of stage weapons in theatrical productions.

Students involved in this weekend’s production of “Red Noses” said they first learned of the new rules on Thursday morning, the same day the show was slated to open. They were subsequently forced to alter many of the scenes by swapping more realistic-looking stage swords for wooden ones, a change that many students said was neither a necessary nor a useful response to the tragedy at Virginia Tech.

According to students involved in the production, Trachtenberg has banned the use of some stage weapons in all of the University’s theatrical productions. While shows will be permitted to use obviously fake plastic weapons, students said, those that hoped to stage more realistic scenes of stage violence have had to make changes to their props.

Trachtenberg could not be reached for comment Thursday night.

Hat tip to Tim of Angle.

19 Apr 2007

Worst Mass Murder in US History?

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The Jawa Report catches newspapers from Savannah, Bradenton, San Jose, Trenton, and Canada referring to the shootings at Virginia Tech as the worst mass murder in U.S. history, and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer doing only slightly better referring to the second worst mass murder in U.S. history.

Truth is, the Virginia Tech shooting rampage, while tragic, was not “the worst mass murder in U.S. history.” It wasn’t the “second worst mass murder in U.S. history,” or even the third, or the fourth.

The 9/11 attacks (2,998 deaths), the Oklahoma City bombing (168 deaths), the HappyLand arson (87 deaths) and the Bath, Michigan bombing (45 deaths) all claimed more victims than the Virginia Tech shootings (32 deaths).

But, as Vinnie noted yesterday, those events don’t fit neatly into the anti-gun political agenda, so they need to go down the memory hole, thereby leaving the Virginia Tech shootings as “the worst mass murder in U.S. history,” with Charles Whitman’s shooting rampage taking a close second.

19 Apr 2007

Father of Criminology on Gun Control

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Gary Koppel quotes Beccarria, the father of Criminology, on Gun Control.

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.”

18 Apr 2007

People Don’t Stop Killers; People With Guns Do

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Glenn Reynolds editorialized in the New York Daily News today on the subject of campus firearm bans, which did not deter the killer, but which could very possibly have prevented his being stopped a lot earlier.

On Monday, as the news of the Virginia Tech shootings was unfolding, I went into my advanced constitutional law seminar to find one of my students upset. My student, Tara Wyllie, has a permit to carry a gun in Tennessee, but she isn’t allowed to have a weapon on campus. That left her feeling unsafe. “Why couldn’t we meet off campus today?” she asked.

Virginia Tech graduate student Bradford Wiles also has a permit to carry a gun, in Virginia. But on the day of the shootings, he would have been unarmed for the same reason: Like the University of Tennessee, where I teach, Virginia Tech bans guns on campus.

In The Roanoke Times last year – after another campus incident, when a dangerous escaped inmate was roaming the campus – Wiles wrote that, when his class was evacuated, “Of all of the emotions and thoughts that were running through my head that morning, the most overwhelming one was of helplessness. That feeling of helplessness has been difficult to reconcile because I knew I would have been safer with a proper means to defend myself.”

Wiles reported that when he told a professor how he felt, the professor responded that she would have felt safer if he had had a gun, too.

What’s more, she would have been safer. That’s how I feel about my student (one of a few I know who have gun carry permits), as well. She’s a responsible adult; I trust her not to use her gun improperly, and if something bad happened, I’d want her to be armed because I trust her to respond appropriately, making the rest of us safer.

Virginia Tech doesn’t have that kind of trust in its students (or its faculty, for that matter). Neither does the University of Tennessee. Both think that by making their campuses “gun-free,” they’ll make people safer, when in fact they’re only disarming the people who follow rules, law-abiding people who are no danger at all.

This merely ensures that the murderers have a free hand. If there were more responsible, armed people on campuses, mass murder would be harder.

In fact, some mass shootings have been stopped by armed citizens. Though press accounts downplayed it, the 2002 shooting at Appalachian Law School was stopped when a student retrieved a gun from his car and confronted the shooter. Likewise, Pearl, Miss., school shooter Luke Woodham was stopped when the school’s vice principal took a .45 from his truck and ran to the scene. In February’s Utah mall shooting, it was an off-duty police officer who happened to be on the scene and carrying a gun.

Police can’t be everywhere, and as incidents from Columbine to Virginia Tech demonstrate, by the time they show up at a mass shooting, it’s usually too late. On the other hand, one group of people is, by definition, always on the scene: the victims. Only if they’re armed, they may wind up not being victims at all.

18 Apr 2007

Press Control, Not Gun Control

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Murderous attacks like the recent homicides at Virginia Tech always produce demands for some sacrifice of liberty as part of a program of preventive measures intended to prevent their recurrence.

A PersonfromPolock, at the Volokh Conspiracy, observes (not entirely tongue-in-cheek) that slightly reducing the immunities supplied by the First Amendment would do a lot more to help than eviscerating the Second Amendment.

To the Editor:

A practical, commonsense way of reducing gun violence — especially in the schools — would be a federal law prohibiting, or at least seriously limiting, the interstate reporting of sensational gun crimes like Virginia Tech for five working days.

Such a law would not affect local coverage, where there is a need for the immediate dissemination of information, but would make the event ‘old news’ when it was finally reported nationally and therefore unlikely to get the massive publicity that invites further, copycat violence. Even a small reduction in today’s intense coverage of such events might, by not stimulating some potential gunman to action, save lives.

While ‘gun’ laws are hard to enforce because of the easy concealment of firearms, the public nature of ‘news’ would make enforcement of this law virtually automatic.

Because the delay would be short and serve a compelling government interest, it should pass constitutional muster; the Brady law serves admirably as a precedent here. While First Amendment absolutists will cavil, the simple fact is that it is as wrong to hold that the Press Clause protects a media ‘right’ to lethally endanger the public as it would be to hold that the Religion Clause protects human sacrifice.

Sincerely,

For some reason, even though the suggested law would clearly be ‘worth trying’ (a standard rationale of the Left), no ‘anti gun violence’ paper has ever published it.

Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.

17 Apr 2007

Killer Bought First Gun March 13th

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ABC News reports that the Virginia Tech killer apparently acquired both of his weapons quite recently and perfectly legally.

Cho Seung-Hui bought his first gun, a 9 mm handgun, on March 13 and his second weapon, a 22 caliber handgun, within the last week, law enforcement officials tell ABCNews.com.

“This was no spur of the moment crime. He’s been thinking about this since at least the time he bought the first gun,” said former FBI agent Brad Garrett, an ABC News consultant.

Both guns were bought in Virginia, according to the officials.

Under Virginia law, state residents can only buy one handgun in any 30 day period, suggesting Cho bought his second weapon after April 13, or sometime over the weekend.

“He clearly spent some time figuring out how he was going to take care of business once classes began on Monday morning,” said Garrett.

The date of the first gun purchase will likely serve as the time of “some triggering mechanism that was very important” to Cho said Garrett, an expert on profiling murderers.

The article illustrates a Walther PPK, not a Glock.

There is still a great deal needing to be explained about all this.

Neither a 9mm nor a .22 represent the last word in lethality. So how is it possible for one 23-year-old student to shoot 47 people and actually kill 32 (totals from latest NY Times report)?

in 1999, four highly trained plainclothes members of an elite New York City crime squad fired 41 shots at Amadou Diallo hitting him with only 19 shots, most of which were not considered lethal by the coroner.

In another New York City shooting incident, this February, five police officers opened fire on Sean Bell who was driving away from his bachelor party. They fired 50 rounds and struck Bell only 4 times, although two passengers (who survived!) were hit respectively 4 times and 16 times by police fire.

So, how is that a 23-year-old Korean college student was able to so dramatically outperform police professionals in accomplishing lethal hits on human targets? He was obviously not using any more potent, or more intrinsically accurate, a weapon.

He apparently bought his first gun on March 13th. Where did he acquire such shooting skills?

Or is it possible that roughly 30 people obediently lined up and just stood there, so that one man could shoot them all in the back of the neck execution-style? I’d hate to think that was what happened.

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