Monday, April 16, 2007

Tradgey at Virginia Tech

At about 7:15am today (4/16/07), a shooting occurred at Virginia Tech. Media reported, first, that at least one student had been killed, and then the number quickly grew. As of now, 7:18pm, there are at least 30 some deaths and many injured. Before the gunman was detained he killed himself. This is the most damage from a school shooting ever. President Bush has made statements on the matter, and groups like the ATF are pulling all available resources to find out what happened.
This tragedy made me think. I thought of the student’s at VT and how the campus is dealing with the problems. Then I thought about Americans’ right to bare arms. I am torn. As a political student, I know the dangers of eliminating a right because of people’s disagreement with the respective right. Yet, I am appalled by gun violence. Do I look at the textual, historical, and structural arguments to find that the “militia” of the Second Amendment consists of the armed citizenry at large, but in no way is the right dependent on actual service in a militia. Or do I look at the prudential (consequences of adoption), and ethical arguments that guns, normally, do more damage than good? Of course there is no easy answer. I wrote a piece over the summer called the impact of small arms, which is available on But, should this extend to pistols, which seem to have no other purpose than killing other people. This tragic event just made me think of the consequences of gun rights and regulations. I am curious to what you all think


John Ryan said...

First off, let me say that I think it is far too easy to get a gun in America. If I am correct, there is a 3 day waiting period and a minor background check that attempts prove the person had no major convictions. No mental or psychological work up is required. Any person sane or not mentally stable can get up and purchase a weapon if they want. This is extremely scary and very dangerous for the whole of the American people. However, with that said, I don't necessarily believe that restircting a person's right to a weapon will prevent people from doing awful things to each other. There are websites all over teh net that teach a person how to make homemade pipe bombs or homemade napalm if they so desired. If someone wants to hurt people bad enough they will find a way. And even if hand guns or the right to bear arms would be restricted by future U.S. policy regulations, there is no guarantee that people would not be able to get guns. During prohibition, the black market allowed for people to purchase and consume alchohol even though it was deemed illegal to do so. Thereofre, my point is simple, if someone wants to hurt, injure, or kill someone else, there are many ways to do it. I don't necessarily think that government restrictions are going to prevent people from hurting each other. Sure, I do believe that people can access weapons too easily in our society and I also believe that it would be a good thing to have tighter restrictions on gun control, but that won't stop people from hurting others. This is going to sound like some kind of philosophical statement, but instead of trying to restrict the ability to find and use weapons, our society should be more concerned about why people turn to violence and hurt people the way they do. That is the only way to truly limit, and hopefully eventually stop all together, people treating each other poorly and hurting each other.

IBA0505 said...

As far as gun control is concerned, I've never personally been in favor of the ability for anyone in the US to easily obtain a firearm. While I must say, I'm not well versed in the history behind this specific amendment, my opinion is mainly based on a humanitarian perspective. Though, it is possible if I were ever put in a position that somehow warranted a firearm, my opinion would be subject to change. From what I've heard about the Canadian laws in obtaining guns, they sound more reasonable to me.

In regards to this tragedy as a human rights issue, it brings me back to a discussion I had this summer. I had the privilege of speaking over lunch with the Dean of Drexel's School of Public Health, Dr. Marla Gold, and I was explaining to her my interest in international human rights and international development for graduate studies. She proceeded to question my desire to invest my time internationally, vs. putting my efforts into development issues in this country. It's at times like these that we are reminded that human rights violations are not just an issue for developing countries. It is so easy to sit back and believe that developed countries "have it great." We run the risk of neglecting issues in our own country - something of which I'm continually guilty. This is not to say that negligence necessarily played a role in the motivation of this incident, but it certainly does prompt national concerns. Dr. Gold then explained her motivation to help Philadelphians in need and believed it was her obligation to first begin at our own doorsteps and help the city that has done so much for us. Though she was speaking specifically about Philadelphia, it parallels the issue of remembering to bring our focus back within our country's borders every once in a while.

John_Madden said...


Authorities believe that a man of Asian decent here in America on a student visa was the alleged shooter.,vatech041607.articleprint

I wonder if this will have any impact on attaining a student visa to study in America.

John_Madden said...


Here is a blog and a couple of videos from the shooting today.

John_Madden said...


The shooter identity has been confirmed. Here is the whole story

John_Madden said...

More developments:

Cho sent a package to NBC. Here is the site

morgan marks said...

I was asked the other day if I thought it should now be harder to get student visas, as John_Madden wondered. Are we now supposed to give some sort of psychological exam to everyone... students who want to study in the US, people who want to buy guns... Honestly, what does this country have to do to protect its' citizens? Things keep happening... why? I think John ryan has a very important point - where does the root of violence come from? Instead of solving issues, it's so much easier to just eliminate them, since when did people become so weak? On the news tonight, ABC talked about how the shooter was the stereotypical person to act out in a violent rage, he was bullied in middle school, extremely awkward, and they gave psychological reasons for his actions - but what makes a person snap like that? I mean, if we really want to turn to the reasons why people hate, I'm sure we can all think of many... and it would take a lifetime to solve and analyze them all. I think as a society, we need to teach our young at an early age the concept of acceptance, and that being unique does not mean something negative. It starts with our youth. Everything starts with our youth. Even us, as college students - I would hope we all have good heads on our shoulders to somehow create change in this world. My heart goes out to all those touched by this tragedy - I hope somehow we all find strength to continue to help one another, and remember that things fall apart so that things can fall back together again, somehow.

Anonymous said...

(this is lex)
I am a person that believes in freedom. This topic always leaves me torn. On one hand I have no personal need for a gun and have never felt the need to own one, so I would not mind if it became illegal or much harder to legally own a gun, but I must also look at my wants as infringing upon someone else who wants the freedom to own a gun. Also even if it becomes much harder to legally own a gun, it might encourage more of a black market for firearms.
-"Those who would sacrifice freedom for temporary security deserve neither"- Ben Franklin