Monday, April 23, 2007

The Current on VT Murders

UMSL's newspaper, The Current, is published weekly on Mondays, so today was the first tack of their editorial board to talk about the murders over at Virginia Tech. I've been unimpressed with The Current's editorial board in the year I've been at UMSL, and this issue pretty much tells me why.

First, we have the general editorial on learning lessons from the tragedy. The major premise here is that there were so many signs, somebody should have done "something" to prevent this. They don't really have any concrete suggestions. Have people "watch out" for each other. Maybe have professors send their students to "certified counselors" to deal with whatever makes them tick (or not).

Professionals had already examined the killer and found there to be no grounds for involuntary commitment to a mental ward. So, at this point, the question should be either, "Did those professionals miss something?" or "Is there something wrong with the rules on these matters?" Maybe involuntary commitment should have more relaxed rules. Maybe there should be more pressure on follow-up with potentially dangerous people. I don't know.

But The Current's suggestion of more counselors and watchful professors is, well, childish. I mean, the latter is reasonable and necessary, but obvious enough that it should go without saying. But more counselors? I don't think that was the problem here, and I doubt it's the right solution.

Ah, but then we have Adam Wiseman, who blames it all on "our murder nation." Yes, you see we are the ones at fault here. President Bush is the one at fault. You know why? Guns. Bad, bad guns. And television. Wicked, sinful television. If the government (evil and corrupt as it is) would just take away the guns and make everything on television happy unicorns and sunshiny rainbows, then life would be better and nobody would ever be able to hurt another person again!


Yeah. When I said that the previous opinion was childish, it seems like ageless wisdom in comparison to this incoherent ramble.

I hate to be the one to say it, but taking away guns from law abiding citizens won't keep them out of the hands of criminals. And even if you take a gun away from someone, if they want to find a way to hurt someone badly enough, they'll find a way. Boxcutters on an airplane killed people in NYC. Fertilizer on a truck killed people in Oklahoma City. I'm not going to pretend to have answers on how to prevent people from committing such horrible atrocities, but I certainly won't latch onto some infantile view of the world in the hopes that the placebo will make me feel better about it.


-Murphy said...

I can't believe I agree with you on stuff.


I don't think that the rules on involuntary commitment should be relaxed to include people like Cho, though I could possibly see following up on people. From what's been reported on this guy, though, it sounds as though he probably could have been unresponsive enough to continue leading mental health professionals to believe that nothing significant had changed.

There's a bill on the house floor right now that would allow background checks to include mental health reports, with the idea being that if you're actually committed for being insane, maybe you can't buy a gun. I'm not positive of the wording and don't have the bill number right now. Thoughts?

Also, "Our Murder Nation" is my new thrash metal band. We'll be touring soon.

Hal said...

Yes, Ryan. Soon your journey to the dark side will be complete. Let the conservatism flow through you.

I'm unaware of the bill, but I guess it will just depend on the nature of what rejects a person for "mental health" issues.

For example, will ever having been treated for depression disqualify someone from owning a gun? Can previous states of disqualification be negated by either the passage of time or a clean bill of mental health from a psychiatrist?

I will agree, though, that some people shouldn't own guns, and that's not just the ex-cons.

But you're right about the killer being unresponsive. A lot of his classmates have said in the aftermath of this that they did try to befriend him, to draw him out of his shell, and he ignored them every time.

So, yeah, I maintain my opinion on The Current's editorial and their general "unicorns farting rainbows" attitude on the subject.

Dr. Church said...

Still, H-bert, I think it's also foolish to assume that - hey, stricter gun control won't work anyway, so why bother? People speed but we still post speed limits. And it's not as though such laws would only be "taking away guns from law abiding citizens". Theoretically they'll be doing the same to criminals - or at least making it harder for criminals to get their hands on them. I guess the thing I don't understand is this - what is it that makes owning a gun an inalienable human right? And I don't mean the Constitution. What's the point? Please try to explain it to me.

-Murphy said...

Yes, Ryan. Soon your journey to the dark side will be complete. Let the conservatism flow through you.

And yet so far away on almost every social issue and some economic ones.
I'm unaware of the bill, but I guess it will just depend on the nature of what rejects a person for "mental health" issues.

Let's say "involuntary institutionalization".

Still, H-bert, I think it's also foolish to assume that - hey, stricter gun control won't work anyway, so why bother?

I agree with this. The laws on the books are either incomplete or unenforced, and may need some backup from other legislation, such as making it more difficult to get a gun if you've been locked up for being insane for a period of time. I'm not fundamentally opposed to some forms of restriction on the ability to own guns. We have restrictions in place in simply interpreting "arms" as "well, not nuclear".

I don't think that we, as a country, are in the right state to start banning a whole bunch of things immediately after a tragedy like Virginia Tech. Decisions like that need to be made through rational thought, not through emotion.

Dr. Church said...

I agree and I'm not suggesting we do - I just don't understand why people make such a huge fuss about their right to own a deadly weapon.

Hal said...

Okay guys, first, let's not put words in my mouth.

I'm totally in agreement that certain people should not own guns, and that some restrictions should be put on buying them. That said, my understanding is that gun control laws are already quite strict. If you argue in favor of new laws in light of the VT murders, perhaps you could tell me what law needs to be passed that would cover the gap? I ask out of ignorance, not sarcasm.

But, why is the right to own a gun important? Honestly, I found this episode of BS (I first watched it as one part, but for some reason I can now only find it in three parts) on gun control to be somewhat useful. Perhaps you'll at least find it interesting:

Part I
Part II
Part III

Dr. Church said...

Check this one out haha... Knives for Guns

-Murphy said...

P&T's BS on Gun Control was pretty well done, I thought. I tend to come down on their side on most of the things they cover, actually, with a few exceptions and rarely solely because of their program, as they do bias the living daylights out of everything.

If you get a chance to watch the episode on 9/11 conspiracy theorists, do so. Or the PETA one, which is terrifying.

Concerning the Chris Rock, I think I prefer his bullet control idea. Caution: Profanity therein.