The news broke early yesterday morning and it felt surreal. The impact did not hit me until a while later: 33 people dead. I was morbidly fascinated by the story that unfolded when more was revealed about the killer and his possible motives.
He was a loner, depressed and no one understood him. Isn’t that always the case with psychotic killers?
Later, after the initial shock of the deaths had surpassed I began to wonder about the gun control laws in the US. You couldn’t avoid hearing about it and both sides of the argument are compelling.
“Guns don’t kill people; people kill people” is the oft-repeated phrase from those who are pro-gun. Gun control laws were not to be blamed and could not have prevented this incident. Cho Seung-Hui legally purchased one of the guns which he would later used to kill 32 people and himself.
Even if a gun buyer was sane and well-adjusted when they bought a gun, there’s nothing to say that something wouldn’t snap one day and the gun is used for murder. After all, guns are highly restricted here in Australia, but Martin Bryant still managed to kill 35 people with them in the Port Arthur Massacre in 1996. So obviously, psychotics will kill regardless of what the laws are right?
On the other hand, if psychotics could not get their hands on guns could they had performed their mass murders so easily? Knives are slow and messy. Maybe they could have build a bomb or two but that takes more knowledge, skill and effort, and would have been harder to conceal.
Guns are infinitely easier. From this point of view, restricting gun ownership makes sense. But we go back to the scenario where a law-abiding and mentally sound person has the potential to become the opposite and go out and kill people with their legally purchased weapons.
So while both sides of the spectrum present good reasons for and against gun control, and assuming that the Second Amendment of the US Constitution would never be repealed (it’s so ingrained into their psyche), I humbly proposed a compromise. Restrict automatic weapons, and high-impact and high-capacity ammunition to only law enforcement and the military*. If the general populace must have guns, then let them have the manual and slow-ass versions.
Psychos would still be able to get guns if they wanted to, but at least they won’t be able to kill with such terrifying speed and efficiency.
*Yes, I know psychos exist in law enforcement and the military too but they are a smaller number than the psychos in the general public.
ADDED 11:29pm – Global reactions to incident and US gun culture:
Shootings draw global condemnation – Massacre at Virginia Tech – MSNBC.com