Another shooting on a VA campus, and a different outcome

Like most who write about gun rights and so-called “gun control,” much of my attention at the moment is on yesterday’s horrific slaughter on the campus of Virginia Tech. Like most, I am at an utter loss to understand what unspeakable evil would drive a person to commit such a heinous act. Like most, I have questions–questions to which I am unlikely to find particularly satisfying answers.

Perhaps it would be instructive to look at another shooting incident on the campus of a Virginia institution of higher learning. This shooting occurred a little over five years ago, on the campus of the Appalachian School of Law. Though tragic, the scale of the tragedy of this shooting was vastly smaller than that of yesterday’s–six people shot, rather than approximately fifty, three of whom died, rather than thirty-three.

What would account for this difference? Does it have something to do with the expiration of the ban on so-called “assault weapons” (the law school shooting took place while the ban was still in effect, unlike the VA Tech shootings)? No–keep in mind that the so-called “Assault Weapons Ban” is a misnomer not only because the term “assault weapon” has no useful meaning, but because it didn’t ban the purchase, possession, or use of the “banned” items, if they were manufactured or imported before the law went into effect. Besides, although details are sketchy still about yesterday’s slaughter, the firearms used by the murderer–two handguns–would not appear to be the types of firearms normally considered “assault weapons” (although that definition is conveniently hard to pin down).

No, the main difference is that two quick-thinking (and quick-acting) students ran to their cars and retrieved their own firearms, and used them to force the killer to surrender. The difference was the accessibility (if not ideally immediate accessibility) of lifesaving firepower, to those with the will to use it to thwart evil.

The article I linked to is more about the reluctance of the mainstream media to mention the role guns play in averting or lessening tragedy (a worthy topic, but peripheral to the one at hand) than it is about the specifics of such cases, but nevertheless describes several school shootings in which the death toll was reduced by the presence of firearms in the hands of those who wish to protect innocent life, rather than destroy it.

I do not claim to have many answers in this time of painful questions, but I am willing to make a prediction: nothing like this will happen at University of Utah.

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