Town Square

Virginia tragedy

Original post made by Tyler Hanley on Apr 16, 2007

Many of us are in heavy mourning tonight following the senseless shootings at Virginia Tech. I wonder if anyone would like to share their reactions. And does anyone know what memorials are being planned?


Posted by VTAlum, a resident of another community
on Apr 16, 2007 at 8:30 pm

As a VT alum who watched the coverage all day, I was absolutely disgusted at the coverage on both CNN and MSNBC - the bodies were not even cold and they were full-out playing the "blame game" already, blaming VT officials more than the actual killer(s) and the heck with the human tragedy.

Plus, an actual "Question of the Hour" that was on CNN at about 2 PM PST, or less than 8 hours after this happened:
"How much do you think student enrollment at Virginia Tech will be affected by today's massacre?"

Although you may find it hard to believe, Fox News (with the notable exception of that notable blowhard Neil Cavuto) was indeed "fair and balanced" and thorough - they had a LOT more info than CNN/MSNBC. And they showed genuine concern about the human element involved, not looking to just make it "the big story."

Bottom line: The next time the "big story" comes out, as long as its not purely political in nature, I'm watching Fox!

Posted by Parent of college student, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2007 at 8:38 pm

VT Alum

Thank you for your comments, I appreciate them.

I only noticed the minimum of coverage today due to having other things to do, but as a college parent myself, I couldn't help but ask myself the question "if this had happened around here, how would I as possibly someone who knew some of the students at the college, view the media circus going on around this tragedy?" I know the media must cover something as newsworthy as this, but I think the college, students, faculty, parents, etc. are due some consideration in this. This is something that affects their lives in a big way but it is also something very personal that each of them have to deal with. Having reporters sticking mikes in front of them, standing around in conclaves, and knowing that for these few "moments of fame" they are centre of the universe, must make it even harder for them to deal with.

Lets leave them to grieve in peace, report the facts, do the necessary enquiries, etc. and wait until the dust has died down before making them the scoop of the century.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 16, 2007 at 8:56 pm

Never go quietly. As soon as the killer's intentions are apparent, you have nothing to lose by not cooperating in your slaughter. You can't outrun a bullet but you can upset the trigger man by attacking him. After all, what is the worst he can do?

Posted by Danny, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 16, 2007 at 9:03 pm

Is it just me, or are more and more things happening lately that remind you just how fragile life is?

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2007 at 9:18 pm

Maybe they didn't have a chance walter> Your post seems to suggest that the students allowed this to happen, or could have defended themselves. Remember, this was not a military academy. Most students are not waking up thinking about how to protect themselves from a deranged individual. I agree that they are ways that one can defend oneself, but to suggest that they should have/could have seems calous and innapropriate to me. The truth is that just about anyone in this nation has access to all types of weaponry, from automatic to semi-automatic guns. I am actually suprised that this has not happened more/before, due to the fact that the gun control laws in this mighty nation are so lax. The suggest the students were at fault is totally unacceptable.

Posted by VTAlum, a resident of another community
on Apr 16, 2007 at 9:18 pm


I would agree with you, but there was a basic problem: The guy evidently had two guns with high-capacity magazines and, according to at least one expert on all these school shootings, with minimal training, he could (and evidently did) get off 100 rounds within a minute. It was - sorry to use the phrase - like shooting you know what. They apparently never had a chance - the only ones who survived were ones who played dead - or who jumped out the window.

This expert also made a very interesting observation: these mass killers typically practice their plans beforehand over and over using those prevalent "shoot-em up" video games in an attempt to slow down their heartbeat so that when they actually do go out and do this, they can do so calmly and methodically - and the reports from VT is that is exactly the way this guy did the killings - calm and collected.

And make no mistake, this was premeditated - he even chained the exit doors shut from the inside.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2007 at 7:41 am

Back to the original post..this panting for turning a tragedy into a non-stop 24 hour orgy of "news" with no regard for the victims and their families is why I never watch the alphabet news after a tragedy. I read the bare outlines online, and then I stop. I do not want to be turned into one of the mobs watching suffering exploited.

If we turned them off, the main news channels might stop it.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 17, 2007 at 7:49 am

If you have a 5 percent chance of living if you attack the shooter and a zero percent chance of survival if you don't attack, what is the better policy?
Remember when the advice to women was to submit to rape to avoid upsetting the rapist? Recent studies are all on the side of fighting back. Fighting does not guarantee winning, surrender guarantees losing. Never give up. The life you save may be your own.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2007 at 8:41 am

This tragedy is just another occasion that should remind us that the gun control laws in this country are ridiculous. The argument that the criminals can still get guns if they want them is not on here. The gunman was not a hardened criminal and probably came across his weapons legally. Also, security is in no way able to stop someone like him. A student going about his college in broad daylight isn't going to appear suspicious.

The one thing that can stop another tragedy like this happening again is tighter gun control. In Britain when there was a tragedy in a schoolyard, the first thing that was done was tightening laws about weapons and everybody was in total agreement. If anyone mentions tighter laws here there is an almighty row. Lets stop the silliness and get the weapons away from people who are law abiding but potentially crazy.

Posted by Kate, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 17, 2007 at 9:53 am

This is not the time to further your own personal political agenda about gun control. This is the time for mourning the loss of innocent lives. The blame should be placed where it belongs...on the shooter. Playing political games right now is totally inappropriate. Say a prayer instead of pointing a political finger right now.

Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford
on Apr 17, 2007 at 12:48 pm

It was and is predictable that the Gun Control lobby would jump on this. They started yesterday, before we even knew the nationality of the guy.

Conveniently forgetting that if even one other person had carried and used a pistol at 7:16 am against this guy, 31 fewer innocent people would be dead.

We can't keep nuclear bombs from crossing over our porous border,what the heck makes anybody think it is even remotely possible to keep guns out of the hands of crazy and criminal minds?

No, this is an argument for every citizen to be armed and ready. When a Florida town had the highest rape rate in the country, and the cops decided they couldn't help the women, they gave a gun to every woman who wanted one and trained her to use it..funny how the rape rate plummeted. Each person must be responsible to defend himself, and each criminal/crazy mind must know that there is a high risk in any attempts.

So, your gun control rant is a no starter. This is not a thread to grieve about how we don't have gun control laws.

Now, back to grief for the real tragedy, the murder of innocent people.

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2007 at 12:52 pm

I strongly disagree with Kate.
When will be a better time?
Why not sieze the moment.
Gun laws in Virginia and other states are totally lax.
The time is now to take a stand against these violent tools.
You don't see these types of events happening in countries with restrictions on
weaponry. The days of fighting the red coats are gone.
The widespread proliferation of guns throughout our society is one of the major reasons
why these types of things happen.

Posted by VTAlum, a resident of another community
on Apr 17, 2007 at 2:21 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2007 at 2:58 pm

If this is not the time to talk gun control, then when? Perhaps when it has happened at Stanford, at Berkely, at UC sleepy backwater town in the middle of nowhere, perhaps then the gun lobbyists will realise that if they had made it more difficult to get guns, then this would not be able to happen to the degree it has.

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2007 at 3:30 pm

there was a time when men were shipped across the atlantic ocean in chains and sold at various locals in the new world too. Just because you may have learned how to make guns at school doesn't mean we should continue doing so. Nothing was said about removing knowledge. When guns are outlawed? We didn't say to outlaw all guns, in case you did not read the post. It was mentioned that restictions should be placed on the types of guns sold to the general public. Also, when the guns are banned, police officers will have them, like in England where these problems seldomly occur. It should not be to hard to figure out that when people are sold automatic weapons, high powered rifles, that are made to kill other people and not citizens, that these types of events should happen. Once again, your pithy comments (i'm sure you think they are) once again obfuscaste the issue at hand. I am thrilled that you learned how to make weapons in school. That's swell. I like to eat potatos, not shoot them at people.

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2007 at 3:32 pm

weekly crew, thanks for removing the comments above

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2007 at 3:34 pm


(intended to shoot people and not for hunting animals)

that's another issue....

Posted by anon., a resident of Ventura
on Apr 17, 2007 at 5:43 pm

Useful artilce on this subject in the Guardian, Wed. Apr. 18

Title: These are all copy cat crimes,,2059749,00.html

The folks in Europe are commenting about how nobody here is concerned about gun contron and has some interesting words to say.

The author of the article has written a book on American school shootings.

Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford
on Apr 17, 2007 at 5:50 pm

I really don't care what "Europe" thinks. We have never beeen taken over by dictators. The first rule of a dictatorhip is to take away the guns of the citizens so that they cannot defend themselves against their government. The second is to take away the people's God.

That is why we have the right to bear arms.

And the right to freedom of religion. Not freedom FROM religion.

Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford
on Apr 17, 2007 at 5:52 pm

Many apologies, Tyler. I promised myself I would not let myself get baited into this, but I fell.

Feel free to delete my response above, I really don't want to contribute to the direction of this thread ON this thread, and pull it further from your intent.

Posted by anon., a resident of Community Center
on Apr 17, 2007 at 6:07 pm

nobody is baiting you.
simlpy discouse. stop apologizing. You don't care what Europeans think. That's fine. I just think its useful to sometimes have someone else examine the patient. If you step out of the madness every now and then you sometimes can get a clearer perspective, that's all, and that's not bait. We have never been taken over by dictators? I suppose you mean America, a country that was stolen from the red man. We have not been here that long. Did you write the book on dictatorship? I suppose your right in that we took America from the red man largely due to our advanced weapons and disease, though mostly the later. Nobody suggested taking away your "god." If you think that Americans should easily be able to purchase items intended to kill humans on a massive level, you are entitled to your opinion, and i am sure your not alone. However, don't be suprised that a few of us think that it should not be so easy to do, to just walk in a room and start taking out a classroom full of our sons and daughters. That's all. Some peole think that this is not alright.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 17, 2007 at 7:09 pm

The knowledge is there. Unless you can work some miracle and wipe the secret of firearms from everyone's mind you cannot get rid of firearms. The tooling to reproduce guns is everywhere. Laws only deny guns to the lawful, not the criminal. Without getting specific there are quite a few things you can just walk in and buy that will kill buildings full of people, The gun has the advantage that it can be aimed and controlled, and that it is often enough just for the bad guy to know someone is armed to make him go elsewhere. As for the Indians, where is their bill of sale from the previous owners?

Posted by Mike, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 17, 2007 at 7:39 pm

Re the comment that this kind of thing doesn't happen in other countries-the mayor of Nagasaki was just shot and killed. Most gun control people hold Japan as a shining example of non-violent, controlled and civilized people. Except for the WWII thing of course, but that was a long time ago.

Today on NPR (KQED), I listened to a show on the Virginia Tech shootings where the host and most of the callers lamented our violent American culture. All ignoring that the person (alledgedly) doing the shooting was a student from South Korea.

Perhaps four years of our culture turned a peace loving foreigner into a mass murderer? And we are the cause of that, too?

Posted by anon., a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2007 at 8:42 pm

once again walter, you fail to see the point. You make it sound like the typical killer has homemade weapons, pure hogwash. They are purchased from gun manufacturers. They are very deadly, not intended for shooting elk, but for killing people, they are easy to purchase, you can buy one a week in virginia, and very easy to use. The point is is that these weapons greatly facilitate the killing process, here in the usa, where we have the highest homicide rate in the world, but your okay with that, doesn't appear to upset you that all these innocent people keep getting blown away, because, by god, its the killers right to have his walmart bought goods, and its simply to bad for all those people out there who lose their loved ones everyday because they were shot and killed by one of these easily accessible store bought goods. We don't need to facilitate murder. That's being an accomplice. I know change scares you, even though you always criticize the luddites, but sometimes change is for the better, and one thing we could do as a nation is not make is so easy to kill eachother, even if there all other ways to do so, most folks did not learn how to do that at NYU, and the vast majority of murders are due to these weapons that have no purpose but to kill human beings, not squirrels in your back yard.
Thought you should know. Stop your constant obfuscation. Try to get the point.

Posted by Tim, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 17, 2007 at 10:39 pm

Only 53 shootings (one is too many) in the country of Japan. They have crime just like us. What do they do different?

Posted by Tim, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 17, 2007 at 10:41 pm

That was 53 shootings for the year 2006.

Posted by Kate, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 17, 2007 at 10:46 pm

It's really incomprehensible how most on this thread want to blame guns and not the person shooting the gun. If we extend your theory to look at the entire issue at VT then we should also remove all of the resident aliens in the U.S because this guy proves that they are all just too dangerous and unpredictable. The devil is in the details. This is an evil and sick person who carried out a horrible deed. You can't blame all resident aliens and you can't blame all guns for his actions. This is a tragedy, yet some of you are trying to use it to gain political points for the anti-gun movement.

Posted by anon., a resident of another community
on Apr 17, 2007 at 10:54 pm

not true kate, not at all, you see, the evil/sick individual you speak of, in most cases, would not be able to have done what he did so EASILY had is not been for the extremely lax gun laws in the state in which he resided, has nothing to do with where he was born, and it seems as though you are politicizing this by your post, suggesting we have a round up of foreigners or whatever your point was, it's about public safety, pure and simple, your the one who keeps hammering away with the P word.

Posted by anonymous, a resident of another community
on Apr 17, 2007 at 11:08 pm

By the way Kate, this event didn't take place inside of a vacuum, it was a real world event,
and part of the reason why it happened it due to the environment in which it happened, an environment that promotes the widespread distribution of lethal weapons meant to kill humans not animals, an environment that can't seem to get enough violence (ever been to the movies or played shoot up video games) and an environment which, hate to admit it, believes that violence is socially acceptable, like our foreign policy, the mirror image, the micro-cosm, the chicken coming home to roost...that simultaneously condones and condems killing, and sometimes people get confused, the image gets blurry, and the bullets start flying, and all you seem to think about is the sick individual, as if they were somehow not a product of the environment, and don't mislead, it ain't just foreigners pulling the trigger.

Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford
on Apr 17, 2007 at 11:10 pm

Well, in that case all the cars should be banned because of all the deaths from the evil/sick people who drive drunk, distracted, tired, or angrily too fast.

Cars kill people.

Get real.

By the way...anybody notice that VT was a GUN-FREE zone? Guess that gun-control rule didn't help.

Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford
on Apr 17, 2007 at 11:12 pm

I see Kate's post as using the same logic as the gun control posts.

Out of tens of millions of gun owners in the US, one goes crazy and kills people. So, we should be tougher on Gun control.

Same logic. Out of tens of millions of non-citizen students in our country, one goes nuts, so...

Same logic.

Posted by Anon., a resident of another community
on Apr 17, 2007 at 11:14 pm

and if you want to round up all the "resident aliens" because they are not to be trusted because of what this guy did, that's ridiculous, not to mention abusrd, might as well get all the eurpoeans back on the mayflower or whatever boat they came in, the africans and chinese while your at it, and send em all back to where they came from, according to your logic, and hand the country back to the people who once inhabitied it, the ones we haven't killed, that is....there are a few of them on reservations i believe that would love for you to oblige them in this regard.

Posted by no name, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2007 at 11:42 pm

All the news media around the world, except in the US, have been unanimous when commenting on this tragedy at Virginia Tech. They see this as tied to the easy availability of hand guns in the US and are totally amazed that the US won't control gun sales even though this country periodically goes through such horrendous tragedies.

Well, the whole world thinks that... they cannot be wrong while we are right in continuing this weapons madness. We should listen to the world and do something to control arms in this country. Enough madness.

Posted by enough already, a resident of Palo Verde School
on Apr 18, 2007 at 12:00 am

"Out of tens of millions of gun owners in the US, one goes crazy and kills people. So, we should be tougher on Gun control."

Draw the Line, you're distorting the point.

Out of tens of millions of gun owners (is it really that high?) in the US, MANY have gone crazy and killed people.

Why have they gone crazy? I don't know. How is it that they were able to kill people? It is *in part* because guns are so readily accessible.

Do they need to kill people who are dear to you before you get it?

Posted by ANON., a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 18, 2007 at 12:40 am

a car can be used as a weapon, or unintentionally kill people too. that is true, but guns are different. Their sole purpose and fuction is to kill people, esp. the non-hunting varieties that are specialized for death. While cars can kill, and do, this is not what they are designed for, and they are not used as a weapon of choice in most homicides in this nation-mass killings- remember-before you chaned the topic-while sometimes cars are used to kill, the vast majority of homicides are committed with handguns, not cars, and thus you argument doesn't make much sense. Were not discussing the fatality rate of automobiles, or cigarettes, or booze, but we were talking about how easily puchased weapons can be purchased readily and make the killing process for troubled individuals who probably would not be able to do so much harm with out them.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 18, 2007 at 5:52 am

When Europe and Asia eliminate suicide bombings and slavery let them then criticize us.

Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford
on Apr 18, 2007 at 7:34 am

Web Link

Web Link

Self-Defense is our right. If you could guarantee nobody, including our government, would ever have a weapon worse than a knife for intent of malfeasance against me, I would agree. Can't guarantee it, therefore we retain our right to bear arms.

So, anonymous or whoever cares what "the rest of the world" thinks and "now do I get it?' do you get it?

Speaking of "rest of the world"..Do you think that there would be any problem in Africa right now with the militants if EVERY adult knew how to use and carried a firearm? No, the first time militia rode into a town, they would have been overcome and that would have been that.

Do you think that if every adult in Europe or Russia had been armed there would have been 2 world wars? No.

Europe is on its way heading down a path of dictatorship again. They have no guns by honest citizens, and they are instituting yet more laws against freedom of speech. Web Link I REALLY do not want to be anything like Europe. But, if you feel safer in Europe, I suggest you move to one of the places you like.

The bottom line is that you clearly have never been threatened or hurt, and I am really glad for that, but talk to anyone who has, and then became capable of defending herself or himself. You will understand.

It doesn't matter what guns or cars are made for, it matters what the results are.

Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford
on Apr 18, 2007 at 7:41 am

Number of guns legally owned. Hard to know. No stats. Best guess, at least 25% of us, maybe 1/2.

Web Link

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 18, 2007 at 8:17 am

Whenever a politician or other public figure starts talking gun control, I suggest that they publicly pledge to rely solely on dialing 911 for their personal protection since they believe that is enough for us. So far, no takers.

Posted by anon., a resident of another community
on Apr 18, 2007 at 10:08 am

once again, you have the right to believe what you think. whatever helps you through the day. if you want everybody to lock and load, and feel that is a safer than gun contrtol, so be it. i don't see the homicide rate deminishing to soon. some people think that restrictions are in order, that's all. perhaps you like all the copycat crimes, and bloodshed that is the result of your fear based logic.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2007 at 10:19 am

I don't think anyone has mentioned that more guns kill family members than protect family members against violence.

If I think about it too much, I get very worried when I think that any home I allow my children to visit may have a weapon somewhere in it, either locked up safely or hidden under the bed just in case. I don't want to think about how many cars on the road have a weapon inside, just in case I accidentally don't notice the lights change from red to green quick enough or perhaps something similar. I don't want my child visiting the local 7 eleven to buy soda, just in case some nutter with a gun chooses that very time to go in and rob the place.

If I worry too much about it, I would get paranoid. I want my children to be safe and I suppose that they are most of the time. I would personally prefer it if I knew that there were not so many guns about as in Europe.

I just choose not to think about it too much, unless........

Posted by Suzie, a resident of another community
on Apr 18, 2007 at 11:44 am

It seems to me that the major problem about this horrendous act is that the gunman showed many, many signs of being unbalanced and violent. Are we ever going to get to a point when we can head off massacres by intervention of some kind.....and another question, why have we not heard from the killers' family?

Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford
on Apr 18, 2007 at 12:04 pm

More fists and clubs kill family members than protect them, too, so...

I was reading in the paper today that "this will bring a big debate to campuses to forbid guns on campus"....uhh, please explain how the ban on guns at VT helped the murdered victims? If there hadn't been a ban, maybe one of the sane, law abiding people would have had a firearm to "subdue" the guy, as they say. A "nutter" going into a 7-Eleven with a gun is more likely to be stopped if the cashier has one also..your child is safer in that situation than in one where the gun was banned from the cashier's reach.

As for "accidental" shootings. Tongue in cheek but accurate article on relative risk of "accidental" gun shootings
Web Link

Posted by enough already, a resident of Palo Verde School
on Apr 18, 2007 at 2:52 pm

"I was reading in the paper today that "this will bring a big debate to campuses to forbid guns on campus"....uhh, please explain how the ban on guns at VT helped the murdered victims?"

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] Did it ever occur to you that maybe it's the Virginia laws and not the campus rules that are out of whack? This young guy had a very, very easy experience with purchasing his weapon, and he did it entirely within the bounds of local law.

If we didn't hand crazy people weapons so readily, perhaps you wouldn't need to argue in favor of arming the rest of us against them.

Posted by Don't Forget, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2007 at 5:26 pm

I just want to make the point that it's hard to have a rational discussion about gun safety laws and gun control in large segments of our country which are more rural. People here in urban areas don't get it and don't like to think about it, but hunting is a very integral part of many lives in this country, and farmers have use for shotguns in their work. In Missouri, all you have to say is "they'll take away our guns" - and everyone will vote for the other party. These are not people buying assault weapons, they own shotguns and by and large, teach their kids (yes, kids) how to use them safely. And this type of gun ownership is vastly different than inner city kids buying assault weapons (or even rural gun owners buying assault weapons).

If Bush had renewed the assault weapons ban in 2002, this tragedy would not have happened.

Someone made the point today on the radio that if arming other students was the way to keep everyone safer, perhaps Bush and high government officials would feel safer in town square meetings if citizens were able to come armed. (For those who have no sense of irony, that was not a suggestion that people come armed, it was a way to highlight how ludicrous is the suggestion that kids should go off to college armed and ready to shoot a mass murderer at any moment.) We need intelligent gun laws.

Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford
on Apr 18, 2007 at 6:07 pm

The shooter did not use an assault weapon. He used an automatic pistol ( 2 of them). Even if he had, the "assault weapon" ban was a joke. All you had to do was buy the pieces separately and put them together. The ban was only about selling them already put together. It was a silly and unenforceable "feel-good" law intended to fool the gullible into thinking there was progress on "gun control".

Your example about Bush (not) feeling safer in a room full of armed people to prove the point about not allowing adults in college to arm themselves was ludicrous. Apples and oranges. A public figure is a target everywhere he/she goes, and requires as much protection as possible.

Ever notice how many people with firearms are surrounding Bush, or any President, everywhere they go? If every student could have a gunman around him, THAT would be an equivalent analogy. Since they can't, they have to be their own protection.

Nobody can count on police to "get there" in time. No matter how good the police, how quick the reaction, people will die until someone stops the shooter, be it police, or be it an armed and responsible citizen. The immediately available armed citizen is the fastest defense.

I will find the book about all the stories that AREN'T told about deaths/rapes that did not happen because someone was armed, and post the link. Armed females, in particular, are critical for their own defense.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 18, 2007 at 8:44 pm

If you want to blame someone for the next massacre, look at what happened today. The price of a prime time 3 minute commercial is 32 dead students.
If the MSM had any ethics or sense at all, the shooters presentation would not be all over the airways tonight. No pictures, and no direct quotes. Paraphrase what he said, but NO PRIME TIME. Right now, bent folk all over are admiring him for having got his message across.
In other couhtries they use explosive belts, but the motivation and effect is the same. Shame on MSM,chearleaders to the terrorists.

Posted by Deep breath, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 19, 2007 at 12:22 am

Terrorists are only terrorists if you let them be that. If you call them what they really are -- murderers -- then all the politics, all the religion, all the smokescreens just fade away.
Don't imbue them with a power they don't deserve.

Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford
on Apr 19, 2007 at 7:13 am

Terrorists are different from murderers - both result in murdered people, but terrorists kill in order to "terrorize" the ones left into changing how they think or what they do.

So, it is more than "if you let them be that".

Posted by Don't Forget, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2007 at 3:26 pm

Draw the Line,
You make a good point about public figures being a target, but it's not entirely accurate either. The analogy does hold.

Public figures, even the President, are more at risk of being targets, but they are not constantly targets wherever they go. If that were so, we would be losing Presidents left and right.

Policemen are armed, work with other trained law enforcement officers, and they are true targets more often than public figures are -- and more policemen are killed in the line of duty.

The reason we surround the President with secret service is not because they are constantly targeted, but because the CONSEQUENCES of one act by a madman, terrorist or criminal is beyond acceptable to us. Look, one of the Supreme Court justices was mugged not that long ago when he was out jogging. We don't surround even very important public figures all the time with protection, and we are not losing them to violence on an ongoing basis. It's not because the public is armed and therefore criminals don't dare; it's not because everyone is not armed. This is just generally a pretty law abiding society.

So we have to ask ourselves: if it is unacceptable to us to have the President killed by a random act by a madman, why should it be acceptable that dozens of college students in the prime of life should endure that fate? We cannot surround everyone with secret service protection, but we can, just as the President does, just as we require in courtrooms across the country, eliminate the most dangerous firearms through intelligent gun regulation.

The analogy is apt, what's good for the goose is good for the gander. It's hypocritical to suggest that other people should feel safer by arming everyone around them, but expect the opposite for one's own safety. Even if one is a public official. I personally think the lives of every one of those students is a precious as the life of any public official.

Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford
on Apr 21, 2007 at 4:25 pm

Interesting commentary in the Wall Street Journal today.

Violent crime has gone down since 1991...and gun control laws have relaxed since 1991.

Can't draw a relationship between correlation and cause, but can say that it is an interesting correlation.

You have to pay to access the online version, so here is my cut and paste, with attribution to WSJ.

"Violent-crime rates peaked in 1991, according to the Justice Department, and have fallen steeply since. Over the same period, gun-control laws in many states have been relaxed. Correlation does not equal causation, but it does make it difficult to argue that greater legal access to guns drives up levels of violent crime." WSJ Editorial Page, today.

And also,

"Last month, Judge Laurence Silberman on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of plaintiffs who claimed that their Second Amendment rights were violated by Washington's strict gun-control laws. The Supreme Court has not heard a Second Amendment case in decades, but federal appeals courts have generally taken a very restricted view of citizens' rights under the Second Amendment. The D.C. Circuit's 2-1 decision sets up a direct conflict with other circuits, and could wind up at the Supreme Court.

This could be a defining moment for gun control, as Judge Silberman's ruling unequivocally declares that "the right to keep and bear arms" under the Second Amendment belongs to individuals and not, as some have argued, only to National Guardsmen or members of government-organized "militias." "The phrase 'the right of the people,'" Judge Silberman wrote, ". . . leads us to conclude that the right in question is individual." He added: "The wording . . . also indicates that the right to keep and bear arms was not created by government, but rather preserved by it."" WSJ, today.

Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford
on Apr 21, 2007 at 4:28 pm

By the way, I absolutely agree that every innocent life is equally precious. I think our goals are the same, how to best protect every life. We disagree on the best means.

For me, I will keep my weapon with me, thank you. I can't count on anyone else helping me, or helping me in time, as I have experienced.

Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2007 at 4:46 pm

There is the case recently of a pizza parlor owner in Oakland who recently shot and killed a would be thief. From this there are a couple of interesting points.

The parlor owner not only shot and killed one of the thieves, but also shot and injured his own son.

The parlor owner only shot one of three would be thieves, the other 2 escaped and are still at large. As a result, he and his family are now living in fear of retribution from the other 2.

The authorities at this stage are not pressing charges against the parlor owner. However, there is still a good chance that he could be prosecuted, even though he has the strong motive of self defence.

He still has to live the remainder of his life knowing that he ended the life of another. I have no idea how he feels about the issue, but many people who accidentally kill another either in road accidents or during war, often have mental problems of what they have done for the rest of their lives. The fact that they are "not guilty" in this respect doesn't make it any easier for them to reconcile what they have done.

Posted by Larry, a resident of Southgate
on Apr 21, 2007 at 4:56 pm

Draw the Line,

I agree with the principle of the Second Amendament. I do believe that a militia of one is as good as a militia of two...or three..or thirty, in terms of private protection. However, the Ammendment was written at a time of flintlock rifles and pistols. There was no concept of machine guns, semiautos, multiple-round clips, etc. Not to mention RPGs...Stinger missles....

We, as a nation, clearly have the right to regulate the types of firearms that we will allow our 'militias'. Even the U.S. military, today, does that.

We could, for instance, allow only flintlick firearms. At a more realistic level, we could allow only single-shot firearms. If not that, then only clips with three bullets. I don't pretend to know where the line is (other than zero), but regulation IS allowed and expected by the majority of us (I think).

BTW, I do own an old shotgun (single shot, with 3 buck loaded). It gives me a little feeling of comfort, rational or not.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 21, 2007 at 7:01 pm

Bystander, how many unarmed pizza parlor owners were shot dead last year. I bet it was more than robbers shot trying.

Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2007 at 8:03 pm


My point about the pizza parlor owner is not that he managed to save himself or his business, but just that he is still suffering nonetheless. If he had not shot the thieves he would be suffering and perhaps they would have succeeded. The fact that he did shoot does not leave him with a good and proud feeling of doing the right thing, just a different load of problems.

Posted by Don't Forget, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2007 at 9:35 pm

Draw the Line,
Even though I favor gun control, I personally consider it reasonable for trained people, with no history of mental illness, etc., who get proper permits, to carry concealed weapons. I would not favor the kind of gun control that would take your gun away from you. I am assuming you carry the kind of firearm to protect yourself in a single incident, not massive firepower to fight an army?

I am with Larry on where to draw the line. I don't think the drafters of the second amendment could have imagined the kinds of weapons we wield today.

Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford
on Apr 22, 2007 at 9:29 am

To Don't Forget:

It sounds like you are saying that you believe that there is some line that can be drawn in gun control that keeps the individual's ability to protect him/herself, yet prevents the ability of one person to kill many people at once.

As far as I know, we have done that. I, for example, no matter how sane or law-abiding or trained I am, cannot buy many kinds of weapons, nor would I want to.

Your wish, it sounds like to me, is to make our laws tighter, in order to further restrict firearms.

Well, reasonable people can have that discussion. It is not an all or nothing one.

But, keep in mind that virtually all firearms currently "outlawed" to be carried can, and are, carried by those who don't care to follow the law. You would have to devise a way to track all the individual pieces that can be bought to construct a "forbidden" firearm, which would be virtually impossible, and if possible, would take a phenomenal amount of manpower to oversee. We can't even guard our borders adequately, so I doubt we could even begin to track the literally millions of firearm pieces that would have to be tracked.

And, if we could, it would have to be determined if the cost is, frankly, worth the lives saved.

Sounds cold, but that is the reality. Just to be ridiculous for a moment, ( I don't know the stats, just making this up), what if spending 10 million per year saved one life per year? Would that be worth it? Any of us would probably say "yes" if it were our own life. But, being realistic, we make trade-offs in lives saved vs cost all the time, and we almost never value a life at 10 million with tax dollars

I would love it if we could come up with a way to keep only "self=defense" firearms ( defining this would be interesting) in our hands, and none of the "others", but I have never heard of a way to actually effectively do it.

Posted by Don't Forget, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2007 at 4:02 pm

Draw the Line,
Yes, I think you are right, my wish would be to make our laws tighter, in order to further restrict firearms.

I find your approach refreshingly reasonable -- Do you have a sense of whether you speak for a lot of people, or if your approach is rare? It seems if more people like you took part in the search for answers, there could be a more positive move toward solutions rather than the usual locked horns.

Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford
on Apr 22, 2007 at 6:36 pm

The problem is that the knowledge base of people trying to tighten gun laws is limited in the area of firearms. Few have ever even fired one, and fewer still have used one to actually defend him/herself.

So, you have two completely different sets of people trying to talk. Those who know firearms get very frustrated trying to talk about reality when others are trying to talk idealism.

Sorry to be blunt, but that is what happens.

So, you have people throwing their arms up in despair and just leaving the table. Or voting in feel-good laws that mean nothing just to soothe the people who think it will help.

You run into problems when you try to pick a number to limit shots from, for example. Is one bullet enough? Not if you are being attacked by more than one. Are three enough? Not if you are in a bar and a gang comes in. Are 10 enough? Ok, maybe. But that is still 9-10 too many for a lot of gun control advocates. So, there is such a wide gulf, I think it is nearly impossible to bridge.

And then you have the people who want to limit the number of firearms a law abiding individual can own. Well, that is another point of argument. My brother-in-law was an avid hunter. And had a couple different firearms per animal and situation he hunted, so that at one point I counted 20 firearms of various sorts. Each for a particular "sporting" purpose. Whether or not you agree with the hunting for sport thing is irrelevant. If it is legal, then it is legal to buy the appropriate firearm.

Or, my father. He collects various firearms and gets awards for his age in competitions with each type. It is his major pleasure, and a sport. How do you limit him?

Virtually everyone I know in the hunting state where my family is owns AT LEAST one firearm.

It is hard to argue that guns are dangerous when there are 80 million of them in the states, with growing numbers being sold and owned every year, and at the same time death/injury by guns is decreasing.

Now maybe THAT has been a good effect of focus on safety, not control. Safety measures have been installed by laws, and I have no doubt THEY have been very useful. Nobody wants accidental deaths.

So, maybe there is more common ground than you think.