Shooting reignites gun control debate

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April 27, 2007

11:30 AM

p. The April 16 shooting at Virginia Tech has raised questions over Virginia’s gun control laws, particularly among its universities.

p. Currently, the College’s weapons policy bans most firearms from campus. According to the 2006-2007 Student Handbook, “weapons, firearms, fireworks and explosives are prohibited on campus … toy counterfeit, replica, or blank-firing arms or other weapons are prohibited on campus…pellet, pain, and BB guns are also prohibited.”

p. Virginia has one of the nation’s most liberal gun policies. According to the April 19 online edition of the Chicago Tribune, Virginia residents are allowed to buy one weapon per month and there are no waiting periods to purchase a weapon. Licensed owners can carry concealed weapons in most public areas. Most weapons, however, are prohibited on campus.

p. Some claim that United States’ current gun laws are adequate, and if any changes should be made, it should be towards looser controls.

p. Gun control expert and author of “More Guns, Less Crime” John Lott is an advocate of a more liberal gun policy.

p. “I think guns do make it easier for bad things to happen, but I also think it makes it easier to prevent those bad things from happening,” Lott told The Flat Hat. “My fear is that when law-abiding citizens can’t have guns, instead of making it safer for victims it is safer for attackers.”

p. Lott also noted that any multi-victim public shooting in history has occurred in a gun-free zone in a right-to-own state.

p. Last year, Republican delegate Todd Gilbert proposed a bill in the General Assembly to allow students and faculty to carry concealed weapons on campus.

p. “The proposal failed, but may be resurrected in response to the [Va. Tech] incident, Gilbert said to the Tribune. “The only thing that is going to stop someone on a homicidal rampage is force,’ Gilbert said. ‘The knee-jerk reaction is to create more restrictions. People who are bent on carrying out violence are going to find the way to acquire weapons no matter the restrictions you set.”

p. After Cho Seung Hui was able to purchase two lethal firearms – despite his mental illness – many politicians are calling for more stringent gun control laws and more extensive background checks.
The Tribune also said that Senator Barack Obama (D – Ill.) advocates stricter gun control that would prevent the mentally ill from buying firearms.

p. “If we know that he got mental health services, then there should be some way of preventing somebody like that from buying any kind of weapon,” Obama said.

p. Lott disagrees, claiming that background checks are an inefficient way to monitor gun licenses.

p. “Background checks [for obtaining a licenses] are just not good,” Lott said. “Criminals will get guns regardless. If you can’t stop bad guys from getting guns, what can you do? There are a whole lot more good people than bad, and those are the people who ought to freely carry guns.”

p. Flat Hat associate news editor Kara Starr also contributed to this report.

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