Such attacks

As anybody reading this has almost certainly already heard, yesterday saw the largest act of gun violence in modern U.S. history.

Also called the “deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history” (modern or otherwise), Virginia Tech has now joined the ranks of many other America college, high school, and grade school campuses ravaged by mass murder.

There’s nothing really to say about it, surely not on a blog posted for fun by a crowd of non-journalists, but I’m going to briefly go against my better judgment.

The Twin Cities’ Star Tribune ran an online poll, asking readers how attacks like the one at Virginia Tech yesterday could be prevented in the future.

As of 2:30 p.m., the winner, with 45% of the votes, is “Such attacks can’t be prevented.”

But the big surprise for me, however, was that the answer “Adopt stricter gun control laws” was not the winner.

With 573 votes, gun control just barely beat out “Allow trained school staff members to carry guns.”

(That one’s not the best plan in my opinion, although 510 Strib readers disagree–would that be an armed guard outside every classroom? Or just hand out the pistols to the professors and TAs?).

Over 1300 people polled think there’s nothing we can do. Violence, it’s true, probably can’t be prevented. But you’ve got a better chance at stopping gun violence. And yesterday was gun violence.

The American school shooting has become an institution. The most famous arguably, before yesterday, took place in Colombine, CO, but it’s been repeated several times since–get some guns and lots of ammo, suit up, and shoot as many people as you can before blowing yourself away.

It’s a murderous form of suicide, but you can’t do it without a gun. Or a couple of guns, usually. And specifically, handguns. Forgive me for a blunt bit of logic, but how many people can you knife to death before you yourself are overpowered?

For the 45% of Star Tribune poll-ees who voted “Such attacks can’t be prevented,” you’ve got all the more reason to vote for stricter gun control laws. Maybe you can’t stop murderous intent, violent acts, or psychotic behavior. But we are dangerously negligent if we don’t try to make it hard to get your hands on the tools that turn violence into shooting, rampage, and massacre.

6 Responses to Such attacks

  1. dbay says:

    Nice post. I totally agree with everything you said. You probably also heard about the White House spokesperson saying HOURS AFTER the attack that U.S. gun control laws are really good. Depressing. The NRA seems to be the most unbeatable of all U.S. lobby groups.

    Here’s a really good article that documents modern U.S. school shootings and says it’s not rare, and not an aberration, and that something can be done about it but isn’t. (Like you said):

    It’s really worth reading. I didn’t just post it because it’s…. Canadian! But during incidents like these, I do find that foreign coverage and perspectives are usually more reasonable.

    Thanks again for posting about this.

  2. dbay says:

    Oh wait, just to clarify, I didn’t mean foreign perspectives are usually more reasonable, as in, compared to your perspective. I meant compared to general U.S. media coverage.

    The quality of TV coverage and commentary in the last 2 days has been really dismal. I think I’ve finally accepted the obvious–the 24-hour news channels obfuscate the story much more than they elucidate. They make endless uninformed statements, snap judgements, and veiled political points. They manipulate every last drop of emotion they can get out of the viewers and the victims. Media no longer even pretend to be truth-tellers.

    Ok, I know, that was already obvious. Thanks again for posting about this.

  3. Kris says:

    I must admit, the “Virginia Massacre” graphics and dum-dum-DUM music I saw on TV seemed a little out of taste (makes me wish I still had cable to see what the Daily Show is doing with that!).

  4. Pulao says:

    The whole “we need guns to protect ourselves from those who already have guns” argument came up a bunch of times when I talked about the Virginia tech shootings with my class the other day. Much like the instant poll you mention (and a lot of other polls going around), none of my students thought that stricter gun legislation would have changed anything.

    Pardon my abstraction here, but I really think this has to do with our (and I mean to implicate not just my students, but everybody, myself included) continued insistence on treating things like “society,” “government,” and “culture” as these vague institutions that we don’t participate in. So, we decided that “society” is full of nut jobs who are out to kill people, and we (separate from society) are entitled to every means necessary to keep ourselves safe. We consume an already exisiting “culture,” (we watch tv, we listen to songs, we read books, we buy guns), we are mere observers of an established world.

    Of course, what we forget in our hurry to consider ourselves the victims of “society’s” wrongs is that we’re creating all of this. We determine society, and more specifically, we create culture. The more guns we buy in the affected or real attempt to keep ourselves (individually) safe, the stronger, more tangible, gun culture we create.

    I agree that things like the Virginia tech shootings are senseless– if by that we mean that the actual people who died had possibly little to do with Sueng-Cho himself. What “senselessness” shouldn’t imply is that there aren’t social, cultural, and economic institutions we participate in that allow for such attacks to happen.

  5. karah says:

    Great blogmentary and thoughtful responses. As a college professor, this issue does worry me. The gun issue I have no idea whwat to do about.

    BUT — to dicourage mass murder from being so damned easy to carry out, there is one thing I intend to do — to start lobbying my school’s administration to install single deadbolt locks, like those on office doors, that can be locked from outside with a key or from the inside by a hand turned latch, on all classroom doors, so a prof won’t have to sacrifice his/her life to save his students by holding the door shut as they jump out the windows, as at least a couple profs did Monday.

    Of course, feeling glum about this, I wonder what excuses said higher- ups will come up with to avoid spending as much to protect our and our students’ lives as they do to protect their computer equipment?

  6. karah says:

    P.S. — NBC’s decision to publish pictures that the murderer sent them in his little infomercial for himself was really STUPID. It just encourages copycats. Also, I bet a hundred bucks that the guy’s poor parents will commit suicide within a year. Unless they’re really resilient and sue the shit out of NBC. That’s libel against the family for sure.

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