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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

More on Guns

I made my case yesterday for gun control as a way to deny the means of mass murder to people like Cho Seung-Hui. The outlook for serious gun control laws in the United States is really poor. There are over 200 million guns in private hands in our country. Political reality will probably stop any gun control crusade. So how to prevent the next massacre?

Today's Op-Ed page of the Wall Street Journal has some suggestions:

"Restore cultural taboos that once served as constraints on anti-social behavior." What a great idea! Just how do we do that? How do we get the evil spirits back into Pandora's Box? Be real, man!

"Allowing the government,on the say-so of a panel of psychiatrists,to lock up indefinitely someone judged to be suffering from a dangerous, severe personality disorder." Ummmmm.....pretty tough to implement this without trampling on civil liberties - how can we jail people based on the opinions of some shrinks? It isn't like psychiatry is an exact science, that insane violent outbursts can be forecast for indiviual mentally ill people. I wouldn't want the government and the medical community to have this power.

"Eliminate 'gun-free zones;' train and arm responsible adults (like teachers or retail store managers) so shooters would face immediate retaliation when they attack." Hmmmm. While this idea makes me queasy, it is the best concept presented on the WSJ's Op-Ed page. David Kopel pointed out in his piece that an off-duty police officer in Ogden, Utah stopped a mass murderer (the 18-year old Bosnian Muslim, Sulejman Talovic) in February of this year at the Trolley Square mall (a "gun-free zone"), thus limiting the shooter's body count to 5 dead shoppers. Now, Koppel is a controversial figure and notoriously pro-gun/anti-regulation, but he does have a point. Armed, trained people in the form of air marshalls are deployed to stop hijackings of aircraft. So maybe part of the answer to "too many guns in the hands of insane people" could be be "more guns in the hands of sane people." Extensive training, psychological testing and careful controls could allow this concept to co-exist with tighter controls on general gun sales.

One thing is clear - there are more Cho Seung-Hui's among us. They will strike again.

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