As the shock from the massacre at Virginia Tech wears off, it appears the political fallout will be minimal. While there were a few calls for more gun control in the wake of the tragedy, they have gained no steam in Congress. Perhaps members of Congress are wary of the voting habits of gun owners. Or perhaps the public, in general, no longer views gun control as the proper response to the latest psycho who opens fire.
Whatever the reason, it may be time to consider gun policies that move us in the opposite direction: arming ourselves.
We all wish that the government could protect us from the likes of Seung-Hui Cho. Unfortunately, government systems are usually inefficient at best, counter-productive at worst. Cho was briefly committed to psychiatric care by the courts but was ultimately treated on an outpatient basis. Since he was not involuntarily being treated as an inpatient, he was still legally able to by firearms. Virginia Tech was a "gun free" campus, a regulation that, in the end, may have done little more than leave Cho's victims defenseless. And even the police, who heroically put their lives on the line for us everyday, cannot be everywhere at all times.
Rather than relying on government, we need to rely on ourselves. We need to have more people owning guns and obtaining concealed-carry permits. We need to have more exposure to the proper handling of guns as we grow up. And we need more of our officials to be armed, especially those officials in charge of our most vulnerable.
One half-baked notion that stands in the way of pursuing such policies is "randomness." For example, a story in the New York Times refers to Virginia Tech student Ross Alameddine as one of Cho's "random shooting victims." Back in March of 2005, teenager Jeff Weise shot and killed nine people at Red Lake High School in Minnesota. An MSNBC article at the time stated that "investigators did not know if a grudge or vendetta led to the killings and that Weise's targets appeared to be random."
Such victims are random only in the sense that the killer does not know them personally. Otherwise, they are victims in a very systematic way. To take a page from Thomas Sowell, note that neither Cho nor Weise targeted a police station or the local National Guard unit -- i.e. those places filled with folks who can shoot back. Instead, they targeted schools, where almost no one has a gun. If we want to minimize the chances of another school shooting, then we need to put guns in the hands of those in charge of schools.
For starters, it should be government policy that every principal and vice principal take firearms training and be armed at all times when on school grounds. Teachers should have the option of doing so.
In universities and colleges, some members of the administration should also be required to be trained in and carry firearms. All administrators and professors should have that option. Universities and colleges should also consider programs were select students would be given such training and given permission to carry a concealed weapon. The schedules of such students would be coordinated so that at least one armed student would be in each classroom building at all times. Students who agreed to participate in these programs could be given a discount on their tuition as an incentive.
Finally, we should consider giving high school and college students firearm training. This will help them become more familiar with and less afraid of guns, and thus more willing to carrying firearms for protection. With more law-abiding people carrying guns, killers like Cho and Weise will have a much harder time finding defenseless human targets.
The fact is thugs are only deterred by those with sufficient firepower. That's why Congress has made it legal for pilots to be armed. If it's a good policy for the protection of airline passengers, why not for the protection of children and young adults?
David Hogberg is a Washington writer and host of the website Health Hog.
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