The Politics of Tragedy

The Virginia Tech shootings have provided the BBC a new opportunity to lambast American views on guns. On the BBC Ten O’Clock News, the recorded piece ended with,”Even after today’s shooting, laws are likely to remain unchanged.” When correspondent Matt Frei picked up his story live on camera, he said, “Nothing is done about the right to bear arms. That is the real story.”

No, Americans don’t do knee-jerk reactions like the British. One crazy man and one shooting here and virtually every gun is made illegal with ownership carrying a mandatory prison sentence. We can’t get mandatory custodial sentences for burglary, robbery, grievous bodily harm, sex crimes, not to mention lesser offenses. It is possible, if very difficult, to get permits for long guns. But have anything other than a disabled antique handgun in your home, even as a collector, and you must go to jail. Ordinarily this is for five years, though in the case of Matin Davies who had been a school headteacher for 22 years and was described by the judge as a man of impeccable character, this was reduced to four years.

On Newsnight, Gavin Esler was throwing softball setup questions to the anti-gun spokeman. When the spokesman for gun owning right in Virginia noted that as the victims were locked into a room and the police couldn’t protect them, if one of them had been carrying a handgun they could have potentially saved many lives. The Brady Center spokesman could only respond by saying that he didn’t think the answer was sending children to school with guns. Perhaps no one had told him that Virginia Tech is a university attended by adults. It is unlikely that any of the victims were children.

The gun control lobby uses incidents like this, hoping for emotional responses. Unfortunately for them, most Americans emotionally respond to the victims and their families, not political point scoring or public policy modification.

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2 Responses to The Politics of Tragedy

  1. the Grit says:

    Hi David,

    While I am still reeling a bit from this incident, having a child in university myself, I would point out that since my State, Tennessee, passed the laws necessary to allow properly trained citizens to carry concealed hand guns, our violent crime statistics have, as logic would predict, taken a sharp down turn. After all, what career criminal wants to risk getting shot for a few dollars in profit. Ironic isn’t it?

    the Grit

  2. the Grit says:

    Hi David,

    I found an article today reporting that a German commentator is blaming Charlton Heston as indirectly responsible for the shootings.

    the Grit

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