International Herald Tribune Editorial - Guns and more guns
Copyright by The International Herald Tribune
Published: April 26, 2007
By now, the logic is almost automatic. A shooter takes innocent lives, and someone says that if the victims had been armed, this wouldn't have happened. The only solution to a gun in the wrong hands, it seems, is a gun in the hands of everyone.
That's the state of the debate over gun control in the United States today. The National Rifle Association and the gun lobby have silenced every legislature in this country. Instead of stricter laws, tighter controls and better background checks, the gun lobby proposes more guns. And what the gun lobby proposes, lawmakers deliver.
Seung-Hui Cho bought his guns illegally, though with the appearance of legality. He slipped through a loophole, through a disconnect between the way Virginia defines a disqualifying mental incapacity and the way the federal government does. After the fact, the loophole is self-evident, and it's tempting to believe that now political leaders will work harder to keep people who are dangers to themselves from becoming dangers to others by buying guns. But the laws are as fragile and imperfect as they are because that is how the gun lobby wants them - and it is paying good money to keep them that way.
Those gun advocates who believe that the Second Amendment confers the right to carry a gun in public are quick to point out that they are law-abiding, decent citizens trying to protect themselves and their families in a world gone mad. But, of course, the guns can't tell the difference. Arming more people would be a recipe for disaster.
True safety lies in the civility of society, in laws that protect all of our rights and in having law-enforcement officers who are trained in the use of deadly force, then authorized to apply it in rationally defined situations. It is the gun lobby's efforts to weaken the gun laws that makes a tragedy like the one at Virginia Tech possible.