People bent on killing will find a way, guns or not

It didn't take long after the ordeal at Virginia Tech last week for the finger pointing to begin.

Even before all the bodies were counted, people with perfect 20/20 hindsight were blaming the school for not locking down the entire campus after the first shootings were reported. Then came the police and courts for not locking up the killer before he did his terrible deed.

And as if the actual event wasn't disgusting enough, some pseudo-macho blowhards actually started blaming the dead students for not rushing the gunman, like the passengers of Flight 93 on 9/11.

There is also this undercurrent that happens every time we get one of these shooting incidents that we need to get rid of handguns, or all guns. Yes, blame it on the guns, not the nutcases who use them to kill.

I witnessed the aftermath of a similar - though certainly lesser - incident recently. I was on the scene of a shooting where a man killed his ex-wife and then himself in a parking lot. Standing there and looking at dead bodies lying in pools of blood on the pavement, it's not hard to slip into that "ban guns" mode. "If only that man didn't have a gun ..."

Then he would have hit her with a car. Or blown up her car. Poison, knives, electricity. We humans are capable of some extremely inhuman creativity when the demons come calling.

Certainly, we don't have to make it easy for clearly disturbed people to obtain guns. The fact that the Virginia Tech shooter had been declared by a court to be suicidal should have been enough to deny him easy access to the weapons he used. One could hope that his diminished capacity would have kept him from finding another way to commit mass murder.

But I wouldn't bet my life on it.

You could outlaw guns entirely, and it will not prevent another Virginia Tech. Someone who is bent on killing will find a way. Law enforcement would have an impossible job trying to confiscate every gun in this country. It's so silly that even most advocates of gun control don't seriously think they could pass a law and, poof, the gun owners would just turn them all over. Having an armed citizenry was part of the plan for this country, a way to discourage invaders from attacking America, and to keep tyranny from our own government at bay. That is what the Second Amendment is all about.

There's not an army on Earth that would want to try to occupy any part of the United States and face off with several million armed defenders. Nor would any police department want to go door-to-door collecting guns.

But what gets me is that many of the same people who are the most strident opponents of banning guns in this country seem to reverse themselves when it comes to Iraq. They think all we need is more time and troops and the insurgents will just hand over their guns and quit fighting.

In many ways, the Iraqi population is better armed than we are. We don't have near the number of automatic weapons or plastic explosives per person that are widely available in Iraq.

Our military has been trying to confiscate all the weapons they can in Iraq for four years to subdue the insurgency, and we all see how that has worked out. They have the equivalent of one or two Virginia Tech massacres every day among Iraqi civilians. For American troops, the losses per month add up to about three times the number killed in Blacksburg.

When the insurgents' guns are ineffective against American troops, they resort to roadside bombs. When those don't work, they send suicide bombers. People who are motivated to kill - either by love, hate or madness - will find a way.

Keeping the occasional lunatic away from guns is hard enough. Battling tens of thousands of heavily armed and motivated people fighting to eject foreign occupiers from their homeland, that's a whole other battle.

Maybe it's been so long since America has faced the threat of occupation that we have forgotten why we give our people the right to bear arms, and why that is so effective against any potential invaders.

It's a lesson we are still learning the hard way in Iraq, equal to 100 Virginia Tech massacres and counting.

• Kirk Caraway is editor of and also writes a blog on national issues at


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment