Mass murder invariably gets the Victim Disarmament Lobby into a lather promoting safety through helplessness. The Virginia Tech shooting is no exception. A brief but honest look at how the world works, however, should convince any but the most craven cowards that there is not much safety in being as helpless as a newborn. Acts of senseless violence will never be stopped by simply declaring them illegal.
It is ironic to me that many of the same people who so adamantly oppose self-defense in the face of violence are the same who claim that boosting “self-esteem” is the highest goal of education. Once we’ve created people enthralled with their own individuality and inestimable worth how can it be that the lives of those people are not worth defending?
Education authorities create “defenseless victim zones” where if confronted by violence students are expected to stand and deliver, whether the delivery involves their property or their dignity. The theory is based on the idea that life is immeasurably precious, to be preserved at any price and that a sane criminal, like a thief or a rapist, will let you live if you just lie nice and still. But what if he isn’t a nice sane criminal? What if he just wants to kill you?
There was a time, long before years of government schooling and media propaganda had removed the spine from so many Americans, when the failure to defend yourself was considered the equivalent of suicide. That theory was based on the idea that life was a gift from the Almighty, not to be taken lightly or abused. Educational discussion in those days more often centered on “self-respect” and “courage” than “self-esteem.”
In keeping with the modern preference for self-esteem over self-respect Virginia Tech is a “gun free school zone.” That means only law enforcement personnel and psychopathic killers can have weapons on campus. On the day of the recent shooting not a law enforcement officer could be found until after the psychopath had already shot more than 50 people and himself.
The cops that did show up, and the SWAT teams, hid behind their cars until the shooting stopped. Then they rushed inside the building and threatened all the survivors with sudden death till everyone was properly prone.
Despite the death toll and the utter failure of the police to protect anyone, college officials are steadfast in their enthusiasm for maintaining the campus as a “Defenseless Victim Zone.” According to a spokesman, the administration wants students to “feel safe” on campus. I have to agree that “feeling safe” is an important part of a good education. But just think of how a policy that actually provided some safety would make everyone feel.
There is no way to know whether the dead and wounded at Virginia Tech “felt safe” attending class in a gun free zone. I’m sure it finally dawned on them that no matter how they felt, they were in big trouble.
The shooter ignored laws against carrying a gun without a permit, bringing a gun on campus, assault and murder. The idea that another gun law or “gun free zone” or psych test would have prevented this tragedy is as about as credible as a Senator’s promise.
In an astonishing turn of events Virginia higher education authorities already had experience with a campus shooting that should have made the solution to the safety problem clear.
Five years ago at a law school not far from VT 43-year-old exchange student Peter Odighizuwa shot two professors with a 38 caliber handgun. He also killed a student in the same building and wounded three others. But unlike today, Virginia colleges in those days were not a Helpless Victim Zones.
Two students, Tracy Bridges and Mikael Gross, acting independently, ran to their cars to retrieve handguns when they heard the gunfire. Gross was an off-duty police officer in his home state of North Carolina. He got his 9mm pistol and body armor from the car. Bridges returned with his .357 Magnum.
They approached Odighizuwa from different sides and proved that guns are not just for killing. Bridges yelled for the shooter to drop his weapon. He dropped it and several unarmed students subdued him. Gross went back to his car for handcuffs to detain the shooter until police arrived.
Other school attacks have also been cut short by armed civilians. A vice principal who got a handgun from his car stopped a student shooter in Pearl, Mississippi and detained him until police arrived. A restaurant owner in Edinboro, Pennsylvania used a shotgun to convince a shooter at a school dance to surrender. He did it without firing a shot himself.
Israel had to deal with armed attacks on schools in the 1970s. These were attacks by terrorists, not students, and even then there were cries for disarmament instead of self-defense. Instead of disarmament, the Israelis decided to arm and train their teachers. Terrorists went looking for easier targets. The school attacks stopped.
The belief that guns cause murder is like believing that spoons cause obesity or that matches cause arson. The problems of school violence won’t be solved by increasing the helplessness of potential victims. When confronted by bad guys with guns we always call good guys with guns. Good guys with guns are like taxi cabs and waiters, the more there are the less time you have to wait for one. Mr. Rogers doesn’t become Mr. Hyde just because he has a pistol in his pocket.
Declaring insanity illegal won’t eliminate insanity. We can only be prepared to minimize the damage that the worst among us can do. To do that we must abandon insane policies that make us “feel safe” while in fact increasing danger.
The only sane response to insane violence is to allow armed people to defend themselves and others. The tools and will to confront evil with self-respect, courage and dignity will improve self-esteem more than any number of useless gun laws designed to make us “feel safe.”