I like hearing differing views. So many people are afraid of hearing ideas that don’t match their own, it often makes me wonder if they are really that confident in what they believe. Besides, no issue is all black and white. Two weeks ago, I complained about the medical care my mother-in-law received at Cedars Sinai Medical Center. I got into an email conversation with Psychotoddler, who actually works as a doctor when he isn’t busy blogging. It was fascinating to learn about the struggles of a doctor in today’s medical world. Doctors are as frustrated as their patients (and working in a hospital is nothing like Grey’s Anatomy!). I’ve invited Psychotoddler to come on Citizen of the Month soon. I’ll ask him some questions, and maybe we’ll get some insights on the best way to get the most out of your doctor.
I had another interesting email conversation with another blogger about gun control. Not So Confidential (NSC) is a long time blogging friend. He’s more conservative than I am, but he’s very cool and likes his women brunette, just like I do.
The tragedy at Virginia Tech has brought gun control back into the news. I know nothing about guns and could never understand why so many fight stronger gun control. However, there are a lot of Americans who consider gun ownership a right.
Looking to learn more about the issue, I asked NSC a few questions, and he was gracious enough to answer.
Q: Why don’t you tell the others something about yourself?
A: As one (the only one?) of Neil’s conservative readers, he asked me for some input on the VA Tech shooting and the gun-control controversy that has naturally followed. I am flattered that you asked me to comment, but I was also hesitant to do so for three reasons. One, I am not a very capable writer. Two, I am no expert on the subject. And three, COTM’s readers are pretty damn smart and used to good writing so therefore they are likely to tear me apart. Still, I have never shrunk from a challenge nor run from a fight – well, only that one time when they high school kid threatened to kick my ten year old butt – so I will do my best. I was born and raised in the deep South where guns are commonplace. I am a former military officer where guns are commonplace. And I am now a federal law enforcement officer who uses a gun as a tool to defend myself and those around me. I also believe that the Second Amendment of our Constitution means “individual” ownership and not a militia like the National Guard. That being said, I am not a “gun nut” as some liberals might say. I do not now nor have I ever owned a gun, and while I did hunt some with my father’s shotgun as a child, I never took to it, preferring the occasional fishing or camping trip.
Q: I grew up thinking guns were bad and dangerous, and only the police should have them. That said, it is hard to argue that if someone had a concealed weapon at Virginia Tech, the outcome might have been different. But how would we determine who should be able to carry concealed weapons for protection? How could we really make sure that only really qualified, stable people are allowed to have guns?
A: I believe people should have the right to own guns for sport and self defense and to carry those guns with them if they do it legally, safely and responsibly. At first I was a little concerned about concealed-carry laws, but time has shown that concealed-carry is a safe thing. I could not find exact numbers, but since the concealed-carry trend started between 35 and 38 states have passed laws allowing residents to carry weapons, including Virginia, where this tragedy occurred. And since then there has been no rash of crimes or gun violence among those law-abiding citizens who choose to carry concealed weapons. In fact, in can be argued that just the opposite as occurred. According to data from the FBI, states offering concealed carry permits have lower crime rates than states that do not offer them. On average, these states have a 24% lower total crime rate with 22% lower murder rates, 37% lower robbery rates, and 20% lower aggravated assault rates than states without concealed carry laws.
If you live in one of those states, chances are you know someone who carries a gun legally. You may not know you know them, but you do. They eat at restaurants where you eat and they shop at malls where you shop, they work where you work and golf where you golf. In order to carry their guns, they have received mandatory training in shooting, gun safety, the legal use of deadly force, and they have had background checks to insure they are not criminals or crazies (this crazy shooter had not been legally committed, thus the check did not pick up his prior psychiatric counseling). And for the most part those checks work. (Including mental health data past commitment is something that should be considered, but then again how far do you go? Is marriage counseling a reason to deny a gun permit? Does the Geico caveman’s self-esteem issue keep him from owning a gun?)
Virginia allows concealed-carry so chances are some of the students at Va Tech had the right to carry weapons on their person almost everywhere in the state except on campus. And I do not know about you, but it seems illogical and silly that the state believes these law-abiding adults are capable of safely and responsibility carrying a weapon everywhere except at school. But that is the decision they made and as a result we will never know if one of those people might have been able to stop that crazed shooter and saved lives. Now gun-control advocates are arguing that we need more and stronger laws against gun ownership. But the fact is that most gun crime is committed by criminals who are already breaking an average of 20 some odd gun laws every time they use a gun. If those people are breaking those laws how can anyone believe new laws will stop them? I mean, while this crazy was able to get the guns legally, he was breaking a law by bringing them on campus. Did that law stop him? He was not carrying high-capacity magazines as reported in the news, by the way, but even if he had been, a law against buying them probably would not have kept him from doing so – he was crazy after all.
Q: While it would be nice to think that some “good” person carrying a concealed weapon might have averted the tragedy, do we really want today’s college kids walking around with guns?
A: Well, that is a valid concern and I do not think kids should be allowed to keep guns on campus in their dorm rooms. Too many kids, too much alcohol, and too many hormones add up to too many problems. On the other hand I see nothing wrong with commuting students who are legally allowed to carry being able to keep them with them while they attend classes. That may be a double-standard, but no one forces kids to live on campus and they could make a choice – live there and limit their gun rights or live off campus. I also do not see why professors and certain employees (perhaps that Dorm RA ?) who have concealed-carry permits could not be armed on campus. Had one or two of those professors been armed I feel confident lives would have been saved. Again, the thousands of people who are carrying weapons now do it safely and responsibly. Why does one believe they would be any less safe or responsible on a campus? It makes no sense to me.
Q: Some of the pro-gun lobby just seem plain crazy. They fight against every little regulation. I’ve never gone hunting, but I respect those that consider it a tradition, but what’s so wrong with long waiting periods and restrictions on guns that are clearly anti-social, like semi-automatic weapons? Can’t you wait another week before you go hunting? I think if the NRA was less stubborn and naive about the harm guns do in urban areas, urban liberals would be more willing to respect gun owners.
A: It is my understanding that this crazy in Virginia waited the mandatory 30 day waiting period to buy both of his weapons. Would 60 days have made a difference? Not with this guy who was obviously crazy for a long time. And 30 days certainly is long enough for a “heat of the moment” moment to pass I would think. You also mention the “anti-social” semi-automatic weapons. Well, I am not sure what is anti-social about them. They look more lethal than a revolver, but are no more deadly I assure you. Yes, the rate of fire is faster, but from what I have heard on this shooting the guy could have reloaded with speed-loaders and done just as much damage.
Q: Chances are I’m never going to get myself a gun, but let’s face it — it is a dangerous world. I depend on people like you (the military and the police) to protect me when there is danger. But maybe I’m too dependent on others for self-defense. If I were in one of those classrooms last week, I would have no idea on what to do to protect myself. What could the average person do in a situation like this or in a terrorist situation? Is it best to barricade a door or throw a chair?
A: As to specific advice I could give in a shooting situation. The best thing to do is get low immediately and become less of a target than anything else in the room. In this particular case barricading the doors was a good idea and it did save lives. I told my sons, one who is in college and another starting next fall, that should something like this happen they should run away from the sound of the shots and if it is not possible to run away block the doors or get under cover as best as they can, and finally, if, as it seems to have happened in this situation, there is no escape, then attack the shooter while he is focused on something else. That is easy for me to say I know, but had any of these poor kids had the frame of mind to attack this shooter it might have saved some lives. I do not know that they could have done anything and I am certainly not criticizing them for not trying; I am only saying that this is something you NEED to consider. Don’t be a herd, be a pack.
Thanks, Not So Confidential. Hopefully, our next conversation is on a happier subject, like “hot brunettes of the blogosphere.”