Un Cachito de la vida

Un Cachito

Un Cachito de la vida - A little piece of Cameron's life

By now everyone has heard of the great tragedy that happened at Virginia Tech on Monday. I've read a lot about it the last few days, but today it seemed to have an increased impact as I looked at a table of victims' pictures put together by the NY Times. These were young, bright and promising kids who were senselessly murdered. It doesn't seem fair. It's not. But I believe God sorts things out at a later time.Anyway, this attack has me thinking about gun laws. While I've never owned a gun, I've always been pro-gun in the sense that it is in the constitution and some people hold the right to bear arms as sacred, so let them exercise that right. Plus, I've been shooting and small-game hunting many times in my life and it can be an enjoyable outing.On Monday, when the news broke, a colleague who is not from America asked me about the reasoning behind American gun laws. I know from talking with others as well that many people see Americans as cowboys, loaded up with guns. At any rate, I explained that it is in the constitution, and he expressed the thought that isn't that 2nd Amendment right for times past? It's a question asked by many, but I stick with the status-quo given there is no clear re-interpretation. At the same time, I can understand to some extent the frustration and disappointment voiced by anti-gun advocates who see guns frequently as a source of death for innocent people. In that context, I expected to see a lot of immediate anti-gun commentaries following the tragedy at VT. However, I was pleased to see that so far gun-control commentary has been generally muted until the emotion has worn off. One argument that has been mentioned is that it's too easy to get a gun in Virgina. The problem however, is that this doesn't seem to be applicable in this tragedy. Virginia laws state you can't buy more than one handgun in a month, but one of the guns was apparently purchased in Feb, showing some premeditation (so a longer delay wouldn't make a difference). Also, Mr. Cho (the perpetrator) had a clean history. Unless you do a psychological profile on every customer at the gun store, you wouldn't have found anything. In summary I don't see gun laws being the problem. It's a very tiny percentage of lawful gun-owners that get into gun trouble anyway. The trick is how to stop wackos and criminals from getting guns, and that doesn't fall under gun laws. What do you think?

Posted by charr at 9:59 AM

Reader Comments

Cameron,What happened on Virginia Tech campus is another great tragedy !Back to the perpetrator, he did not have a clean history !!!
The Washington Post published this report showing that in September '05 this guy presents an imminent danger to himself as a results of mental illness so I am very surprised he could legally purchase two guns !Some will keep saying that if he didn't had a gun, he couldn't have killed so many people ... and some others will keep suggesting that if every student had a gun, they could have "protected" themselves ...I was surprised when I watched "Bowling for Columbine" that your Canadian neighboors have similar laws than in the US ... but there are way less homicides with guns other there !My opinion ( for what it's worth ) is that i am pleased not to be allowed to buy guns since i cannot imagine any noble thing i could do with them.

Posted by Gilles at April 20, 2007 3:56 AM

I was hoping you would comment. I think we both reflect the cultures we were raised in and that's to be expected to some extent. As for a clean history, I hadn't heard about an involuntary commitment. That is somewhat alarming. I don't know what is involved in a background check for a firearm but it may just be for any formal criminal charges, in which case he would show up as clean on a background check. If involuntary psychiatric hospitalization doesn't show up, then I would think it should be changed to include that. I think there's just a fine line between imposing unfairly on someone's rights and doing what needs to be done. Regarding Canada, I don't know the percentage of murders, but I can speculate that it is largely because they have a vastly smaller population. More precisely, they have a much smaller urban/ghetto population which is where a large percentage of murders happen.Going back to my previous assertion that I'm for the status quo, I'll use a (not really good) analogy: car accidents. Cars cause one of the largest numbers of non-natural deaths, but you stress safety and laws, rather than getting rid of automobiles. You have people that break laws and cause deaths (drunk driving), but you deal with them. Although guns do not provide the same benefit as cars, it is such a tiny majority of lawful gun-owners that get into trouble, that I don't see it as appropriate to get rid of guns. That said, I respect someone's choice not to have guns. As I recall, my father wasn't a big fan of guns due to an accident in his youth, and that's OK.

Posted by Cameron at April 20, 2007 9:05 AM

According to this article in the NY Times, it appears that Federal laws do indeed prohibit sale of firearms to those who have been "involuntarily committed" or "mentally incapacitated." It appears the problem comes in definition of involuntary committment between Virginia law and Federal law, and apparently the background check didn't catch the previous warnings.

Posted by Cameron at April 21, 2007 12:27 PM

Here's a little more, if by some chance you're still interested. This is an AP article talking about how Congress wants to take out the gap between state and federal laws. It also confirms that because the judge only ordered out-patient treatment instead of committment, the federal databases weren't updated.

Posted by Cameron at April 23, 2007 10:55 AM

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