Friday, April 20, 2007

Gun Rights = Human Rights

As the harsh edge of the recent events at Virginia Tech begins to dull slightly with the passage of time, it behooves us to examine their impact on our own lives and ideas.

The right of self-defense is an inherent, inalienable right. If we have a right to life, we have an absolute right to defend that life against unwarranted aggression. This idea goes back to John Locke, if not before. Yet the administrators of Virginia Tech deprived their students and professors of their right to life, and 32 of them died because of this loss. What’s more, it was done proudly. On the defeat of a bill mandating that Virginia public universities respect the right to life of those on campus by allowing concealed handguns on their grounds, a VT spokesman said, "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 campus."

I’m sure they feel safe now.

Those of you who work or study on the SIUC campus, think about this: while firearms of any sort are prohibited on campus except in the possession of law enforcement officers, do you really think that will in any way inhibit this sort of attack from being carried out here? We have all heard of “copycat” killings. In fact, Cho himself deliberately patterned his actions after those of the Columbine killers. Who’s to say something like that cannot happen here? What would prevent it? What systems or rules do we have in place that would prohibit such an occurrence at our own school? Answer: None. I travel to, from and on campus every day. Never—ever—have I, in my capacity as a student, been checked for weapons of any kind. I could carry a handgun of the exact kind that Cho used—a Glock 9mm, a fine weapon—everywhere on campus, and, if I concealed it well enough, no one but my family would ever know. Now, I’m not going to start randomly shooting people. But someone else might. What’s to stop them from doing so? Nothing. The only thing that could possibly stop or deter a maniac like Cho is the fact of other people—good, decent, law-abiding people—carrying guns as well. If those in that fated classroom had not been deprived by the Virginia Tech administrators of their right to life, they could have exercised their right to life, and kept their lives, with one or two well-placed shots.

I could go on—quote statistics that show that concealed-carry states have lower crime rates, that gun-control laws increase crime; relate stories about how similar incidents have been stopped by gun-wielding students, etc., etc., but all of that is beside the point. The point here is the question of whether or not we have a right to life; that is, a right to defend our lives. Virginia Tech, the State of Illinois, and SIUC believe that we do not.

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I just want to make sure I understand...a campus of 20,000 armed students would make me feel safer? Okay, say only 10,000 were armed, would I feel safer? 5000? Please don't go down the same road as the gun control lobby and exploit this tragedy to further your agenda.
You're damned right I have an agenda: Not to be slaughtered helplessly like those 32 poor people at VT. It's been shown time and time again: An armed society is a polite society. In Utah and Oregon, they have precisely the sort of situation at their public schools that I'm proposing for SIUC: Concealed carry of handguns is allowed on campus. I challenge you to show me one instance where that resulted in an on-campus gunfight. I know you won't find a mass murder in those places; those kind of nutcases are usually quite intelligent; they don't pick places where they are unlikely to get a high body count because of being shot in the head too soon.

Maybe you wouldn't feel safer if 5000 people on campus carried handguns. That VT spokesman certainly believed that people on that campus would feel safer with a disarmed population. But it's quite clear that they were not in fact safer; 32 are dead because of this policy. And whether you would feel that way or not, you would in fact be safer if 5000 people on campus carried handguns (note that most states with concealed carry laws require training before issuing permits).
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