Second Amendment

In a recent post about the Virginia Tech shootings I wrote “[d]epending on which side of the gun debate you listen to, either Cho obtained his weapons because it is too easy to buy guns or Cho’s violence claimed so many victims because not enough people carry guns to defend themselves.” A few people have suggested that I conjured up that last position. I did not imagine this argument, as these quotations show:

  • “This is exactly the situation where one armed student, faculty, or staff could have cut this short.” (1)
  • “Communities that recognize and grant Second Amendment rights to responsible adults have a significantly lower incidence of violent crime than those that do not.” (2)
  • “Had I been on campus today, and otherwise been entitled to carry firearms for protection and been deprived of that, I don’t think words can describe how I would have felt, knowing I could have stopped something like this.” (3)
  • “How many other people like Cho are out there . . . Nobody knows, and it is because of that clear and present danger that Americans should not be browbeaten or bullied into surrendering their civil right to have a firearm for personal protection. (4)
    1. Bryan Fischer, Second Amendment: designed for Virginia Tech, http://www.renewamerica.us/columns/fischer/070417
    2. Fred Thompson, Signs of Intelligence, http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=OTIwYzMyZmQ1YzQ1MDNmZTMyYzQ1Y2U3YTU4YzNmNGE= (yes Law & Order fans, this is that Fred Thompson)
    3. WorldNetDaily, State quashed bill allowing handguns on campuses, http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=55226
    4. Second Amendment Foundation, SAF Says Virginia Tech Case Underscores Importance of Second Amendment Right, http://www.saf.org/viewpr-new.asp?id=220

23 thoughts on “Second Amendment”

  1. We spoke about this at your office hours today and I’m beginning to change my position on the subject. When you bring up articles like the one mentioned above, especially the last two, it makes me believe that this is not such a terrible solution to these types of hate crimes. You must consider, however, the fact that if someone pisses you off and you do have a firearm on you, you will be more likely to use to and more homicides could result.

  2. At first, I searched for a while to locate statistical evidence to disprove the argument that Cho’s violence claimed so many peoples lives because not enough people carry weapons around. Then my mind was hit with the question of what if 90% of people in America carried guns with them? I realized that this would develop a new statistic, one of those things where it’s “every 30 seconds, someone just got shot.” There are many examples where gunshots would be fired just for the simple fact that people are carrying guns. At college parties where alcohol is present, many fistfights tend to break out. I go to a lot of Oakland Athletics/Raiders games and have seen numerous fights involving drunk and even sober people. Gang violence would escalate as well. I think it is more than unreasonable to assume that if more people carry guns that public safety would increase.

    However, the real question is whether “people carrying guns” could have limited the damage that Cho caused. It takes time (more than 5-10 minutes) for police officers to react to a phone call and arrive at the scene. It’s easy to say if you had a gun, you would have done something about it and stopped Cho. But a Nas quote from the song Life We Chose says, “everybody’s different, you won’t know how you react until you in that position, and that’s an actual fact.” I agree with that statement, and I think people are either trying to enhance their reputation or have instinct hatred for Cho when making statements about how someone would have killed him if more people were allowed to carry guns. Still, I agree that if everyone did carry guns, someone would have stopped Cho before he killed 30 plus people (he would have killed 15). But the fact that more people would carry guns, would result in FAR more than 15 deaths, and for this reason I think its not such a good idea to have more people carrying guns in our nation.

  3. There has been a lot of talk on just allowing everyone to own/purchase a gun and I have a few comments on that which can or cannot be applied to the Virginia Tech shootings depending on how one feels:

    If everyone owned a gun, justice would be provided quickly (presumably a positive); the typical social benefits of punishment (in this case, being shot in return) are as follows:
    1. Retribution (Do one to others as they have done to you…revenge),
    2. Deterrent (If I shoot – I’ll be shot back at…no thanks),
    3. Rehabilitation (Doesn’t apply so much in this situation, but one may recover from a shooting w/ a new mentality), and
    4. Incapacitation (once shot – you’ll never shoot again)
    **Study done by DiIulio**
    Also, further gun distribution would create a necessity for more jobs in the industry, an economic positive.

    Now, whereas the previous five may be considered positives because of the quick inducement of justice and economic growth, there are several reasons why nationwide gun ownership may be a negative:
    1. Diminishing Population (US already faces minimal population growth which means a slow-to-grow economy, and most gun users would be those who are still in the workforce, so a decrease in that population would again ensure a lower yielding economy),
    2. Unless everyone was provided with a similar weapon, a social inequity would occur, possibly creating a black market where weapons would stand as the method of exchange, and
    3. A national sense of insecurity may develop, where citizens view police, military, and other crime-deterring organizations as ineffective.

    Now, none of the factoids/theories listed above necessarily reflect my own opinions, but I thought I would provide a unique way of looking at national gun distribution through the use of Economics and Political Science.

  4. There is no doubt that if one of the students at VT had a weapon on them they would have shot Cho and prevented his rampage, but if everyone in America had guns there would most likely be more homicides and more horrific injuries. I base these judgments on absolutely nothing.

    No one here has really brought up the fact that the 2nd Amendment allows everyone to have a gun, but not everyone has a gun. Why is this?
    Not everyone wants a gun, because having a gun usually implies that you are going to shoot someone or something. I’m assuming that the majority of people in the country do not want to shoot someone.
    Let’s not forget that basically anyone can get a gun it’s not hard, but most people choose not to.
    People who do have guns legally usually go hunting, while people who have them illegally usually use them on people. Whether or not you own a gun is a product of your environment: if everyone around you goes hunting, you’ll go hunting too. If everyone around you is getting shot, you’ll buy a gun to not get shot.
    I’m assuming that there is no shooting range at VT or gang violence so it really didn’t make any sense for anyone to have a gun, besides Cho who obviously wanted to kill people.

    In response to afm who stated, “Stopping violence with guns somehow seems counter-intuitive. But that’s me.”
    You must be against the death penalty. Haha, but seriously if you knew that someone was carrying a gun you would be wary of the words you choose and the actions you take around that person (ie. police officers, gang members, Dick Cheney). This is an argument commonly used by advocates of the death penalty, who claim that the death penalty makes criminals think harder about committing murder. I happen to disagree with the death penalty at this point, but only because I think life in prison is a much harsher penalty, especially if there is no life after death.

    So while we’re all talking about how it would be terrible if everyone in America had a gun, realistically that’s not going to happen unless gang violence spreads everywhere, or hunting becomes extremely popular.
    There might be a spike in ownership of guns after this incident, but probably an insignificant increase.

  5. The US Constitution was placed “in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty” for all American nationals. Therefore, people would seek refuge under the scope of the Amendments of the US Constitution. The Second Amendment, and specifically, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms,” is what I want to touch on.
    This right to keep and bear arms has placed 240 million guns in America; “considerably more than there are adults” (1). Individuals who own these guns, for one reason or another, are able to obtain them very easily. The VT massacre could have been prevented, or at least have been less murderous, if rules and regulations for attaining guns were more reasonable. Under Virginia law, a quick background check showing no criminal record would entitle one to purchase a single gun each month (2). I do not want to underscore the right one has under the Second Amendment to bear arms, but to have the ability to purchase one every month sounds quite silly.
    In 2005 alone, “14,000 routine killings” were committed. Not to mention the 16,000 suicides and 650 fatal accidents (1). The number of guns present in America is very large, however, what is more tragic is that in some cities there are no accurate numbers of how many guns residents have.
    I understand that it is one’s right to bear arms. However, just as any other privilege given to members of society, advantages for one person should not overlap as disadvantages for another. The pretext that one needs to protect himself does not convince me at all. To citizens where city police, state police, and much more federal level protection are available, I find independent residents at the least obligation to arm themselves [for protection]. Furthermore, even if one was to bear arms for protection, having one gun is more than enough. I wonder why would people buy a gun every month for simply protecting themselves?!
    What kind of a society would we be living in if we all had to use our privileges of carrying guns? What kind of rules and regulation would a legislature be able to apply on citizens who have their own power and who have the option of creating chaos in civil society.
    If the number of guns is not controlled and tracked, there will be no such thing as a “perfect union,” “justice,” “domestic tranquility,” and “general welfare,” as the preamble for the US Constitution states. It will be a state of “war of all against all,” just as Hobbes put it.

    1. The Economist, April 21st – 27th 2007, pp.11.
    2. The Economist, April 21st – 27th 2007, pp.27.

  6. antoinethony,

    I agree with you that gun use needs to be controlled, but perhaps just in extreme cases such as buying a gun every month. Was Cho an extreme case? No. Did he have every right to buy a gun? Yes.

    We all hate to hear a statistic like 14,000 killings, but would these people have not been killed if there were no guns?
    We’re talking legally obtaining guns as well. Were any of those 14,000 people killed by illegally obtained guns?
    What about the suicides, should those people even be counted? I assumed they would have at least tried to kill themselves another way and a gun was just the easiest way.

    I do agree with you that legally sanctioned weaponry should be tracked in some manner, and there should be restrictions on how many guns you can buy, but simply pointing to gun deaths in general may not solve the problem.
    Let’s not forget that the VT shooting was the single deadliest shooting rampage in modern times (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18140540/).
    Statistically speaking 14,000 deaths due to guns is not very significant. Compare that to 16,885 people who died in alcohol related car accidents in 2005 and those were just 39% of all car related deaths (http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/factsheets/drving.htm). Should we ban alcohol, again? Obviously we have restrictions on alcohol consumption, but evidently they are on par with our gun control laws.
    Something does need to be done about illegal gun use in this country, and something needs to be done about containing legal gun use as well, but we need to take a deeper look at how big of a problem this actually is. The 2nd Amendment creates the potential for rampages like this to occur, yes, but these rampages are oddities. I’d like to see a fact sheet on how many of the guns in those 14,000 murders were legally obtained. I’m trying to look for it, but I can’t find it…yet.

  7. After reading some comments regarding gun control, I could hardly believe that people truly felt that we should combat gun violence by arming ourselves with more guns. However; after researching gun statistics I began to realize why people are so cemented in their beliefs. There is an infinite wealth of pro-gun statistics available online, and at first glance they can be very persuasive. For example; since converting to a right to carry state, Florida has seen a 37% decrease in gun related homicides, whereas, the US has seen a 15% rise over the same period. Wow that’s great news for Floridians. However, statistics can be extremely misleading. What that fact does not tell you is that Florida has one of the highest gun homicide rates of any state, with around 2000 people killed each year. Granted Florida has one of the largest populations of any state, but even if we compare the murder rate per 100,000 people Florida still ranks among the worst in the Nation. 12.24 people are killed per 100,000 compared to Massachusetts, one of the strictest gun control states, which sees 3.54 per 100,000. Now Florida’s lax attitude on gun control does not seem so intelligent.
    Americans carry more guns than any nation in the world. They also account for 45% of global gun homicides, which is staggering considering the US is the richest country in the world. In fact you are more likely to be shot in the US than any other established country, with Brazil and Mexico rounding up the top three.
    So to the people that point to statistics to prove that more guns means safer streets, try to understand what those statistics are hiding. Adding guns to combat guns is perhaps the most foolish idea I have ever heard, it just creates a perpetually escalating problem. The best way to combat gun violence is to remove the guns, and that is statistical fact. In Japan where almost no one has a gun, the homicide rate per 100,000 is a fraction of a person, whereas in the US where 82% of us own a weapon the homicide rate is 14 per 100,000. What does that statistic tell you?

  8. cujoespo,

    Cho carried two weapons when he walked into the classroom building at VT. He had ‘legally’ obtained both, the first was purchased on February 9th and the second on March 16th.

    As the pictures published by NBC News indicate, Cho used both guns, each on one hand. This allowed him to shoot at more people and therefore increase the number of his victims. This contradicts the answer to your question, “Was Cho an extreme case?” In fact he was, big time.

    If his access to these dangerous weapons was limited, more lives could have been saved. Cho would not have been able to fire 170 rounds in 9 minutes killing 30 students.
    http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/04/25/va.tech.shootings.ap/index.html

    Concerning your other question, “Did he have every right to buy a gun?” the facts prove you mistaken. He had no right to buy any gun due to a Virginia court order presenting him “an imminent danger to himself as a result of mental illness” (p. 5; http://i.a.cnn.net/cnn/2007/images/04/18/cho.pdf ). Therefore, under federal law Cho had lost his Second Amendment rights to bear arms. However, due to a gap between the federal and state procedures, the state court ruling did not show up on Cho’s federal records.

    Cho was right in saying “you caused me to do this.” We placed two guns in the hands of a mentally ill person – we caused him to earn the title of a criminal.

  9. antoinethony,

    In that case then, you’re right on both points.

    Evidently Virginia fouled up big time with the court order.

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