A Gun RIghts Activist Responds To The Virginia Tech Shooting.
By F. Paul Valone
F. Paul Valone is president of Grassroots North Carolina, a Second Amendment advocacy group.
If your state lawmakers killed legislation to protect students from slaughter, would you celebrate by saying, “I’m sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly’s actions because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus”?
This 2006 hubris was courtesy of Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker. The legislation was Virginia House Bill 1572. It would have let handgun owners with permits for concealed guns carry those weapons on college campuses. Harsh reality trumped Hincker’s feeling of safety when Seung-Hui Cho murdered 32 at Virginia Tech.
When gun control advocates showcase their oft-failed schemes as solutions, they avoid mentioning details of three other school shootings, where armed intervention saved lives:
• In 1997, Pearl, Miss., assistant principal Joel Myrick stopped triple murderer Luke Woodham, using a handgun retrieved from his car.
• In 1998, in Edinboro, Pa., the 14-year-old who killed science teacher John Gillette at an off-campus dance was captured by shotgun-wielding James Strand.
• And in 2002, at Virginia’s own Appalachian Law School in Grundy, student Tracy Bridges used his pistol to detain murderer Peter Odighizuwa.
Each time, armed intervention saved lives without additional shots being fired.
Beyond anecdotes, researchers John R. Lott and William M. Landes, then at Yale University and the University of Chicago, studied multiple-victim public shootings. Examining data spanning 19 years from 1977 to 1995, they reported that shootings in states that adopted concealed handgun laws declined by 84 percent. Deaths from these shootings plummeted by 90 percent, and injuries, 82.5 percent.
Crediting the reductions to deterrence (even suicidal maniacs avoid armed victims), Lott and Landes called their findings “dramatic.” The “only policy factor to have a consistently significant influence on multiple victim public shootings,” the researchers said, “is the passage of concealed handgun laws.”
Like North Carolina, Virginia prohibits guns on campuses. But policies purporting to create “gun-free” zones actually increase victimization. “States with the fewest gun-free zones have the greatest reductions [in] killings, injuries, and attacks,” Lott and Landes found.
• Indeed, of eight school rampages tracked by The New York Times, six occurred after enactment of the 1996 federal Gun Free School Zones Act.
• “Gun prohibitionists concede that banning guns around schools has not quite worked as intended,” Lott said, “but their response has been to call for more regulation of guns. Yet what might appear to be the most obvious policy may actually cost lives. When gun-control laws are passed, it is law-abiding citizens, not would-be criminals, who adhere to them.”
After 12 years under North Carolina’s concealed handgun law, permit-holders have proven themselves sane, sober and law-abiding. Revocations run less than 0.10 of 1 percent, most for reasons unrelated to guns.
Rather than passing new gun laws, we should examine Virginia Tech’s delayed emergency response and its inattention to Cho’s clearly disturbed behavior. We should improve campus security. But if 32 murders say anything, it is that police have neither the ability nor — as courts have ruled — the responsibility to protect you.
Liviu Librescu, 76, a professor and a Jewish survivor of Russian labor camps, used his body to shield escaping Virginia Tech students. Doubtless, the politicians who killed HB 1572 console themselves by saying that their malfeasance didn’t quite cause his murder.
Maybe our state legislators will display uncharacteristic courage by allowing concealed handguns on campuses, ensuring that heroes like Librescu have something better than their bodies to stop bullets.
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