Saturday, February 13, 2010

NRA types should maybe just be quiet for a while: some thoughts on the University of Alabama shooting

I find it painfully appalling that some people are using the recent shooting on the campus of the University of Alabama-Huntsville to make arguments for looser gun control policies.

Details are still somewhat sketchy, but it appears that the perpetrator was a faculty member who was denied tenure. Biology professor Amy Bishop apparently brought a gun to a faculty meeting and, after learning she had been denied tenure for the second time in her career at Alabama, opened fire on her colleagues. Three people were killed and three others were wounded.

It beggars belief to hear some people arguing that the solution to incidents like this is actually more guns. According to msnbc, one student at the university said that she had requested that students with gun permits be allowed to carry their guns on campus and was turned down.
“I’m scared to go back to school,” (the student) said. “However, if they were to allow me to carry my pistol on campus, I would not be as scared.... I’m sorry that nobody in that room had a pistol to save at least one person’s life."

To sum up, here's the argument that the above student and others like her are making: that we need to allow more people to carry more weapons in more places. I reject outright such a monstrously irresponsible stance. Giving more people access to more guns is what makes America the gold-medal winner in First-World Gun Deaths.

And I don't want to hear the argument that stricter gun control laws won't stop gun violence since criminals and emotionally disturbed people like the woman who allegedly carried out yesterday's campus shooting will always find ways to get their hands on weapons. That may very well be true, but looser gun control laws only make it more likely that those people will get their hands on weapons, while increasing the likelihood of more deaths resulting from their attacks.

Are you going to tell me that if anybody at that faculty meeting had been carrying a gun, they would have had the presence of mind to pull it out, aim it, and take a shot before Bishop opened fire?

Are you going to tell me that putting guns in the hands of young adults who are passing through some of the most emotionally tumultuous times in their lives is by any stretch of the imagination a smart idea? Drunk kids at house parties? Young romantics who have been spurned by the targets of their affections? Academically ambitious students for whom the C they just received in a class may end their dreams of becoming a lawyer or doctor?

Using shooting rampages to argue for looser gun control laws not only makes for a really bad argument, but it's also socially irresponsible to an appalling degree.

7 comments:

lauramcwilliams said...

Law school would be ten times scarier if any 'type A' student could bring a gun to school before OR after grades came out. A B- in law school can ruin everything; even the best student's level-headedness could be on the brink. Guns + grading curve = nothing good.

Rekrul said...

Let's take a look at what gun control has done for students so far...

The law now prevents anyone from legally carrying a gun on school grounds, even if they have a legal permit to carry a concealed weapon. This means that every law-abiding student is unarmed. When someone such as a disgruntled teacher or student decides to ignore the law and go on a shooting rampage, they can be reasonably confident that all their victims will be unarmed. It also means that there won't be anyone who will stand up to them and try to stop them.

Imagine for a moment that each school had armed guards patrolling the hallways, checking in on classrooms and such. How many students or even teachers are going to try to go on a shooting spree, knowing that they're likely to get shot themselves before they can get off more than a couple shots? Sure, they usually don't care about their own lives, but they do want to make an impression and getting your brains blown out after firing just a couple shots, isn't very impressive.

Now imagine that students and teachers with permits are allowed to carry their guns in school. Suddenly, it's no longer a giant building full of unarmed victims, and the psychos can never be sure who might shoot back at them.

Nobody is saying that they should just hand out guns to students. These are students who already own guns. If they wanted to kill someone, they could bring them into school. They don't because they're responsible people, not disturbed psychos. They were granted the right to carry their guns in public, all they're asking is that the law not disarm them in a place that is becoming increasingly more common for shootings to occur in.

Are people with permits allowed to carry their guns at the mall? If so, how common are shootings there? If you said "not too common", why do you think legally being able to carry guns on school grounds would automatically lead to an increase in shootings?

Jenna McWilliams said...

rekrul,
I could not disagree with you more.

School shootings are relatively rare, but violence between students who are in the throes of the most turbulent times of their lives--that's a nearly everyday occurrence at most schools. Often, students in their frustration and fury will reach for the most violent, most dangerous weapon they can grab: Fists, if those are the most readily available, or knives if those are, or other forms of weapons depending on what's around. Add guns into the mix and you'll soon have students reaching for guns in their rage.

Anyway, what's to prevent the "disturbed psychos" from just reaching over and grabbing the gun out of the backpack or holster of the student sitting next to him?

Besides, "disturbed psychos" who bring guns to school are not likely to be deterred by armed guards--if they want to go on a rampage, they'll go on a rampage. The only difference is that if they know there will be armed people at the school, they'll bring more than just pistols. They'll bring heavier artillery.

As for your question about whether people being allowed guns at malls leads to more shootings at malls, I'd direct you back to the point I made in my post. Lets not limit it to shopping malls. People are allowed to carry their guns all across the nation, and this has led to America's position as Number One in firearm-related deaths. If that's not enough proof that more guns is more dangerous than less guns, then there's no logic that will be able to convince you.

Nathan said...

Jenna,

Back in the early '90s when states were loosening restrictions on who could carry a concealed weapon, anti-gunners such as the Brady Campaign made an argument very similar to yours. That the increased proximity to firearms would cause all sorts of incidents to get out of hand and would result in running gun battles in the streets. But you know what; those predictions never came to pass.

Your argument, too, is a logical fallacy and has already been proven false through real world practice.

Rekrul said...

As for your question about whether people being allowed guns at malls leads to more shootings at malls, I'd direct you back to the point I made in my post. Lets not limit it to shopping malls. People are allowed to carry their guns all across the nation, and this has led to America's position as Number One in firearm-related deaths. If that's not enough proof that more guns is more dangerous than less guns, then there's no logic that will be able to convince you.

How do you explain the fact that the states with the strictest gun laws have some of the highest rates of gun violence in the country, while states with more relaxed laws have less?

Why don't you ever hear of psychos going on a rampage at gun shows? Surely in an enviroment where almost everyone is carrying a gun and there are hyndreds of other guns lying around, people must be getting killed by the hundreds, right?

My father owned several guns and had a permit to carry a concealed weapon. He also had a pretty bad temper. Despite this fact, he never shot anyone, nor did he ever use any of his guns to threaten anyone. He carried a gun for protection for at least 25 years and in all that time, the only times he ever took it out of the holster were to show it to friends, at the firing range and at night when he came home. Since he died, I inherited his small collection, including several handguns and a genuine assault rifle (not fully automatic), all bought legally. Strangely enough, I haven't shot anyone either.

Melissa said...

@Rekrul,

You seem to make the assumption that anyone who has a license to carry a gun is a stable and sane individual. And that the "disturbed psychos" don't have licenses to carry their guns. That is an error in logic.

I believe people have the right to bear arms, but I don't want armed guards wandering the halls at my school. And I don't want to carry a gun.

What's at the root of the problem here? Piling guns on top of guns doesn't actually get to the real root of it. We're talking about disturbed individuals who are willing to go on shooting rampages...something needs to be done about these folks going unchecked for years upon years as disturbed individuals, slipping through the cracks and never getting the serious help they need.

How about back in the 80s when Ronald decided to cut funding for mental health institutions? What happened to our homeless population then? It skyrocketed. And rather than actually put the pieces together to make a real solid solution and change, we treat the symptoms; we bus homeless people out of town; we shuffle them under the rugs. This sounds off the point...let me get back to it...

Clearly this woman who went on a rampage in Alabama needed help. And I'm not sure she ever received it. I mean, I really don't know. But here's my point: rather than arguing about guns and who needs them and why guns don't kill people, but people kill people, let's start talking about why these shootings are happening. And actually try to solve the disease, rather than just treat the symptoms.

Jenna McWilliams said...

@Melissa,
Great points. I concur wholeheartedly.

 

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