Based on the blogs and newspaper columns I have read about the shooting rampage at Virginia Tech University, it really is too soon to write about the incident with any degree of insight. For example, I have already come across two blogs in Blogger News that suggest the whole wretched episode might have been avoided if the victims had been packing heat.

Virginia has one of the most liberal sets of gun laws in America. You can own all the guns you want (although you are limited to one gun purchase per month), you can wear a sidearm openly in public, in most cases without a permit, and with a permit you can carry it concealed. They only thing you can’t do, unless you are in law enforcement, is carry the weapon into certain places, such as onto a college campus.

Bloggers in this space have suggested that had the student victims had guns, Cho Seung Hui, the shooter, would probably have gotten off maybe one round before one of the Tech students popped him. Now…would the first row of students kneel down, as in Revolutionary War tactics, and the second row stand, and then fire alternate volleys? Would there be distractions during most classroom lectures while students made sure the clips for the automatics were full, or the cylinders of the revolvers contained all the ammo they would hold?

PROFESSOR: Miss Jones, would you please put that five-shot Detective Special away while we are reading “Beowulf?”

JONES: Just a second professor, I was only replacing the wad-cutters with hollow points, in case some maniac from South Korea comes busting thru the door, armed to the teeth. And would the guy who plays linebacker please scoot down in his seat – his head is in the line of fire.

And do it goes.

No, the answer is not for students, church choirs, mime conventions, and members of the Rotary Club to attend their gatherings with all the firepower they can strap to their thighs, just in case some loony crashes the meeting. It is precisely this type of advocacy that makes gun owners (of which I am one) appear to be just this side of Dr. Demento.

The Times of London got it right when it said the shootings in Virginia were “routine American gun violence – shocking only in scale.” In other words, what makes the carnage at Virginia Tech so repulsive is not that another execution of innocents took place – but that it was a record number of victims. The Times continues, “Only an optimist would imagine that Virginia Tech will hold the new record for very long.”

Experts who know their stuff have said over and over that the combination of an assassin who is willing to kill himself in the act of murder is virtually unstoppable. The killers at Columbine High School in Colorado took their own lives after mowing down 12 students and one teacher. Since that horrific incident, no new gun controls have been legislated, and a federal ban on assault weapons was left to wither on the vine on September, 2004.

I am not an advocate of taking away everybody’s guns. To have done so in the past would have deprived me of some of the most sublime moments of my life, following a trusted hunting dog on a crisp November day, surrounded by the colors of autumn and experiencing that mystical “something” between a hunter and a splendid creature operating on instinct and animal intelligence. Yet of all this is spoiled, sullied, polluted, and otherwise made rotten by the homicidal gun nuts, of which Cho Seung Hui is a prime example.

I say openly that I am a gun owner and hunter. But the day may come when such an admission will carry with it such unpleasant consequences that it will be wiser to remain silent. I compare the situation to many Catholic priests who no longer wear the Roman collar in public because of the possible association with the hundreds (thousands?) of ordained pedophiles who have brought shame and loathing to the clerical garb. Or Americans traveling in foreign countries who say they are Canadian because they are weary of vilification coming from hostile residents of the host country.

This is the legacy of the Cho Seung Hui’s and Columbine assassins – an outpouring of rage and intolerance by growing numbers of Americans toward anyone who possesses a gun, however blameless that individual might be. So we are really not ready to write about and come to conclusions concerning the massacre on the campus of Virginia Tech. We need to ponder whether any public policy can eliminate the kind of evil that led to the acts we witnessed on Monday. If students can no longer feel safe on the peaceful Blue Ridge campus of Virginia Tech, Cho Seung Hui has accomplished far more than your run-of-the-mill terrorist.

– Chase.Hamil

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