Many details have yet to come out, so I’ll preface this with a warning it might change.
However, many on the left have rushed to point to a variety of policies that could have prevented yesterday’s tragedy. (Virginia Tech student Seung-Hui Cho killed 33 people, including himself.) Sadly, they’re wrong on all counts.
From the accounts I’ve seen (check Google News for the latest), the individual bought the gun in March and had a receipt for it.
Mother Jones makes a point about secondary sales — in all but 17 states, only licensed dealers have to perform background checks when selling guns. Even I see some logic in requiring private people to call in their buyers’ information before selling, but again, there’s no evidence the shooter bought it from anyone but a licensed dealer. A receipt doesn’t prove that, but it points in that direction.
What’s amazing to me is how this case skirts around gun control proponents’ biggest arguments. Waiting periods, so angry people can’t immediately procure guns? There was a month between purchase and killing. Background checks? So far, there’s no evidence he would have failed one. Checks for mental instability? He was possibly depressed, but there’s nothing to indicate his case had been documented to the point the government could take away a constitutional right. Trigger locks and safety training (as Mother Jones also notes)? The guy was trying to hurt people.
The only credible argument is that the constitution doesn’t fully apply to non-citizens, but liberals don’t want to go down this road. So I ask: If a 23-year-old, with (we’ll assume) no criminal record and no documented, severe mental illness can’t buy a gun, who can? The only way to prevent this case would have been to ban all guns, confiscating tons of property and ripping the Constitution to shreds. And you’d have to do that nationally (probably internationally), not just in one city or state, as big cities with gun bans have shown us.