Gun control won't work in U.S.


Gun control won't work in U.S.


Posted: 4/23/07

The intricacies of the recent tragedy at Virginia Tech are proving to be very enduring media fodder, with NBC lapping up Cho's media package and the investigations probing deeper and deeper into the background of the gunman, savoring every juicy drop of sordid drama. It's been so lasting because, as the act of an irrational psycho, it's riddled with questions that will never be answered - and that always keeps an audience.

Almost grudgingly, one of the few concrete issues that the tragedy has forced back into the national spotlight is one of America's least favorite debate topics: gun control. One might think that the massacre naturally lends itself easiest as an example of how guns are too easy to acquire here in the States. But, pro-gun rights advocates are already quick to turn it into a case for more self-defense.

Indeed, some gun-rights proponents are even suggesting that Virginia Tech's campus policy of prohibiting the possession of firearms on campus should be reviewed. A fair number of students are quoted as saying they wished somebody had a gun with them on that day. Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, said, "All the school shootings that have ended abruptly in the last 10 years were stopped because a law-abiding citizen - a potential victim - had a gun. The latest school shooting at Virginia Tech demands an immediate end to the gun-free zone law which leaves the nation's schools at the mercy of madmen."

So Pratt is suggesting here that allowing guns on campuses would be a big step toward curbing shooting outbreaks. Really? Who thinks to bring a gun to class on a regular basis?

Beyond making a strong case for having more vigilant background checks, though, it's very unlikely that the Virginia Tech tragedy will spur any significant gun control initiative within the United States. It's not like any previous mass shooting has.

To many people elsewhere in the world, the recent tragedy is yet another bloody stain on America's generally ugly reputation. European critics, as to be expected, particularly express their never-ending bafflement that Americans never seem to do anything about their gun laws.

And well they may wonder. But as much as I don't care for guns and identify more with the ethos of gun-control advocates, I can't believe that gun control alone is going to fix things. Serious gun control legislation, like what Europe has, is doomed to fail in the United States as it is today, and that's because guns are just too embedded in American culture for laws alone to make lasting changes about it anytime soon.

History has shown us that prohibition laws are rarely ever effective when they run up against big cultural institutions. A real attempt to bring our gun control laws anywhere near the standards of Western Europe would be disastrous today. If someone ever miraculously pulls off an outright ban on general gun ownership in the United States, that person will probably get shot, and I'd fully expect ferocious, widespread defiance of the law across the entire nation. You'd have to pry those guns from America's cold, dead hands. Before law reform can be used effectively to curb guns, our gun culture must first undergo reform.

Gun ownership is often trumped up in the United States as a testimony to the hallowed virtues of individualism and self-sufficiency. The civilian's gun embodies vigilante security and is about as literal as "power to the people" gets - this harkens all the way back to the Revolutionary days when militias actually mattered, which is indeed where we got this Second Amendment from in the first place. It was an assurance to those suspicious of the new federal government that they'd always have their guns to protect them should the feds ever get too tyrannical. Even today some pro-gun rights people will talk about a civilian's firearms as the last line of defense against governmental tyranny, which really can't be anything more than just a psychological comfort, since I can't imagine today's citizenry armed with handguns and hunting rifles having any chance against our government's tanks and bomber planes.

But of course it's naive to say that gun enthusiasm in America mainly comes from a militant devotion to liberty. On a more simple level, people just like shooting things, and having guns makes you dangerous and therefore potentially cool.

I get somewhat torn when it comes to this, because on one hand, I'm not a fan of real guns, but I honestly also think guns are quite awesome when kept to the realm of fiction, as in video games. Most U.S. politicians tend to take an inverse stance, being way more comfortable supporting restrictions on the mere depiction of guns rather than restricting guns in real life. Personally, I would rather there not be necessary restrictions on anything, and that American culture could just chill out with the guns out of its own volition. That, I think, will bring more peace than any law will bring about, but it will be a long time in coming.


Original Source: <a href=> The Pitt News - April 23, 2007</a>






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KONRAD KLINKNER, “Gun control won&#39;t work in U.S.,” The April 16 Archive, accessed May 25, 2024,