Valuable quotes

"No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow." ~~

"The minute you start talking about what you're going to do if you lose, you've already lost." ~~

Cree Prophecy - "When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money." ~~

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Acting out to violent levels...

The most heinous example of acting out has once again occurred. This time by a gun-wielding young killer, Seung-Hui Cho. A very troubled and violent young person as we’ve also come to learn, who was acting out in the most criminal of ways. This time, though, the aberration cost thirty-three people their lives, thirty two of which were innocent victims doubling the loss of life of one previous episode.

To further the hurt, he chose to send his message just four days before the eighth anniversary of that other disaster; the Columbine High School bloodbath. That ‘acting out’ episode resulted in the massacre of thirteen kids in Jefferson County, Colorado back in April 20, 1999.

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold decided they too, needed to make a voilent statement to the world. And like Seung-Hui Cho, they were willing to give their lives to make it.

Now I realize the obvious blame will fall to gun control, or lack of gun control in this country and I am certainly not going to minimize that fault here. The US is looked on globally as getting it so terribly wrong when it comes to that issue and we deserve every criticism that falls upon us for that. But that’s another topic for another time perhaps.

Too long have we heard the slogan “Guns don't kill people, people kill people.” My answer to that is ‘yes, people with guns'. One of the biggest supporters of guns and the NRA slogan was one Dimebag Darrell, the guitarist for Damageplan and Pantera. Ironically, he was killed during a 2004 shooting spree at a Columbus, Ohio, nightclub. With him went five other people including the gunman. He was 38.
I have a slogan for you NRA; ‘live by the gun, die by the gun.’ Unfortunately, those that don’t live by the gun are all too frequently killed too.

I’m sorry NRA, but it’s all too damn easy for crazies to get their hands on guns in this country, in spite of your ridiculous argument in support of firearms. Log on and surf to Top 100 Gun Sites. Candystores for killers. You're saying there is no reason to 'control' this? Or at the very least make honest attempts to? How far could Cho have gotten if he’d had to strangle those thirty-two people? Or stabbed them? Or put poisonous gas in the air system? Or whatever other methods of murder he’d had to resort to?

My grievance here goes beyond that, however. One picture of an angry twenty-three year old with guns in both hands should be message enough, to the NRA, to the legislators as well as to families and friends alike who see the signs of rage and distress in these individuals and do nothing. In almost every instance, when a situation such as this occurs, we get a history of the person. And in almost every case, the person was or still is being treated for emotional issues. Psychiatrists have perhaps examined these people and agreed that there is a violence problem but done nothing beyond ‘writing them up’.
Letting them walk out of a doctors office or a guidence counselors office to go and purchase a gun…or guns, and go on murderous rampages.

Could the killings at Virginia Tech been prevented if more teachers and students complained about Seung-Hui Cho’s bizarre behavior and his violent writings?

Lucinda Roy, a co-director of the school’s creative writing program at Virginia Tech, taught Cho in 2005. She was concerned about his behavior even back then. He wore sunglasses to class and a cap pulled low over his eyes and she was very concerned over the violent themes in his writings. She also was worried for her own safety because Cho took cellphone pictures of her in class.

When she notified authorities about these things however, she was told there would be too many legal hurdles. Police told her they couldn’t act since the writing wasn’t explicit enough and he didn’t threaten a specific person. Maybe their hands were legally tired, but couldn’t campus administration have intervened somehow, for example asking for a psych evaluation because he was a threat to himself and others.

Another of Cho’s writing professors brought his work to Roy’s attention. In one play, a teen character accused his stepfather of molesting him. The same character killed his father. In another play, the teens talked about stalking and killing a math teacher who sexually molested them.
Click on the links below the read the plays. WARNING: the plays contain profanity and scenes with disturbing content.

- Read Play #1: 'Richard McBeef'

- Read Play #2: 'Mr. Brownstone'

Are you telling me that the person or persons who read these two plays wasn't responsible in any way for the events that unfolded on April 16th?

Or did the law drop the ball? Under federal law, Cho should have been prohibited from buying a gun after a Virginia court declared him to be a danger to himself in late 2005 and sent him for psychiatric treatment, a state official and several legal experts said Friday. Federal law prohibits anyone who has been "adjudicated as a mental defective," as well as those who have been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility, from purchasing a gun. Cho's ability to buy two guns despite his history has cast new attention on the adequacy of background checks that scrutinize potential gun purchasers.
If you say they are faultless, then explain to me why all of these killing rampages past and present have happened in gun-free zones? Good question, no?

So who is at fault exactly? Well, we all are. The families who don’t acknowledge there is a problem; the friends who don’t want to ‘snitch’ and may well pay with their own lives for their honor among friends, the school system who doesn’t follow up on kids with known issues, and the gun culture who misuses excerpts of the second amendment to justify arming themselves.

The Second Amendment is among the most misunderstood provisions of the U.S. Constitution.

“That the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and their own State, or the United States, or for the purpose of killing game; and no law shall be passed for disarming the people or any of them, unless for crimes committed, or real danger of public injury from individuals; and as standing armies in the time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military shall be kept under strict subordination to and be governed by the civil power.”

The legal precedents are far from clear in that amendment. They are also pathetically sparse, at best. There was an article in the Yale Law Journal a few years ago entitled "The Embarrassing Second Amendment." suggesting a reluctance on the part of the courts and the legal community generally to deal with our issues today. In almost every other aspect of law the Bill of Rights has been broadly construed to restrain the states as well as the federal government. Few today would argue that states should abolish the right to free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment. Yet many are prepared to do nothing on the second, on the grounds that the framers were sage and knowledgeable men. Perhaps they were, I’ve no doubt this is true.

But let’s not forget that those same men penned that slavery was fine too, even owning some themselves. Yet today we are appalled at the very thought of someone being held in bondage. Slavery was bad, and the constitution as written permitted it, and a duly ratified amendment was required to put the matter right. These men who are responsible for the Bill of Rights were living in a different time. And their rulings and implemented amendments back then have brought us to today. No, they could not have foreseen the urban violence on the scale we have today. But if they’d had a crystal ball to gaze into, do you think they would have written those murky words back then? Or at least quite as obscurely? Since you don't hunt elk with a hand gun, or quail with an assault rifle, I think they could have done a much better job of passing this into one of the laws of the land.

Dragging out that old chestnut “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” You don’t arm yourself against an armed person; you implement stronger laws that make it much harder for criminals to arm themselves, thereby making the world a safer place for all. Gun supporters have suggested that the students should have all had guns to protect themselves. With other armed & frightened students at the scene, that opens the potential for three times the carnage! With early unsubstantiated reports that morning that the shooter was a middle-eastern Islamic student, there is every possibility that an innocent person could have been shot in the atmosphere of hysteria. Even if other armed students on campus had correctly identified the shooter, there is no guarantee that they might not have shot one another or killed many innocent others by frightened accidental firing.

I go back to my initial point in saying many there were to blame for what happened that day. Cho was for the most part ignored. He made people uncomfortable or in the case of his roommate, found him mildly amusing; but that was it!
And don't you find something terribly wrong with the fact that all of these mass shootings have occurred in gun-free zones? I know the gun supporters will wag their finger & say "SEE? Controlling guns doesn't work."
That’s not control; that’s sheer wisdom.

Which is why I don't blame that one thing for what happened at Virginia Tech.
This kid, with smoldering hatred & violent thoughts, was let go on about his life there & it eventually led to this. No-one really got to *know* what was going on in this persons head. It's one thing for the prof to say she saw something wrong & suggest counsellings; it's totally another to follow up & make sure he got it!


Anonymous said...

Dimebag Darrel is dead because of gun control and a crazy person who thought he stole his lyrics. In Ohio, not five feet from the stage where Dimebag Darrel was killed, a man who carried a .45 pistol daily stood and watched in horror as he was defenseless because the event was in a facility that "prohibited" firearms because of Ohio law.

Moments later a police officer did exactly what this man could have done. (He confronted the shooter with a shotgun and stopped the attack) -- minutes earlier the fan in the audience could have prevented senseless deaths if not for gun control.

Further, the Bill of Rights are rights extended to the people. Every time the word "the people" is used in the Bill of Rights it means a person, not a state. They define individual rights for "the people" -- not for states.

Your article brings up slavery but fails to mention the fact that the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendment were intended to restore rights to individuals (slaves).

What about the US Supreme Court Decision that said "Freed slaves" should be entitled to all rights extended to individuals, including the right to bear arms?

Further, the whole militia "confusion" is really easy to solve. Why would a government need to write an amendment into the constitution to give itself the right to have an armed force?

It didn't. At the time of this country being formed our means of self-defense was through an armed populace. Its sorta like the korean street merchants during the LA Riots who defended their property by taking up arms.

Its sorta like the people in New Orleans who defended themselves against looters and rioters with firearms when the police department either ran off or was filmed pillaging through a Wal-Mart.

Its really easy to blame guns. Its really easy to be afraid of guns. The reality is simple: People kill with guns, cars, knives, etc because they make the decision to do harm, to do wrong, and to do it in violation of any law you might write.

Because you don't like guns you blame the existence of guns. Gun control is a sad fallacy put upon the people as a solution.

Washington D.C. has banned gun possession basically for years, yet it is one of the most dangerous and crime ridden places in the country. It has guns -- they're all in the hands of people killing people because they don't obey laws. If gun control is such a great solution why is it gun crime is rampant in US jurisdictions where gun control is at it's worst? (Chicago anyone?)

Its because people who choose to ignore the laws that prevent murder are not too concerned with gun control. They don't buy guns, they steal them (remember, they're criminals)

We live in a free society. Freedom and individual liberties come with a cost. No matter how much you might want to try to eliminate death and crime the fact is that there will always be fluctuations in crime. Crime can only go down for so long before it will come back up, and vice versa.

When a drunk driver kills someone do we talk about banning cars? Do we talk about banning alcohol again?

Do we say we're going to sue Budweiser?

No. We talk about cracking down on the behavior of driving drunk and dealing with it more harshly instead of letting these people become repeat offenders. We focus on the problem and the illegal act, not the car.

The problem isn't cars, guns, or alcohol. Its the actions of people who choose to do bad things.

Taking guns, cars, knives, and even alcohol away from those of us who do nothing wrong with these items isn't the solution, nor is it in the spirit of a free society.

P.S. - If you find a magic wand consider asking for crime to go away instead of the 280 million or so guns in society.

I still want to shoot for fun and sport...

Ginger said...

Well, anon…you’ve actually said the same thing I’m saying, but in somewhat different words. Problem is, the knee-jerk reactions from gun owners is such that they have tunnel vision and only spot the one small part about GUN CONTROL; read that to mean “TAKE OUR GUNS AWAY” and don’t bother to study any of the rest of what I’ve said.

Dimebag Darrel was killed by a criminal carrying a gun; that criminal was taken down as you’ve pointed out, by a police officer legally licensed to do that kind of work. And the only person in that room that should have had a firearm. I have no problem with any of that. But look at the mess that occurred from the unauthorized gun carriers.

You also point out that Dimebag was taken down by a crazy carrying a gun, yet you’re adverse to the laws regulating the licensing that make it harder for crazies to get their hands on guns? Yes, they steal guns but if there were less guns available for them to get their hands on, then where are they going to steal them from? Break into gun stores? Steal them from cops? Go onto an army base with a gym bag?

I’m not blaming guns! Guns are inanimate pieces of metal designed to take a life. To stop a heart beating and render the victim dead.

While I don’t understand the sport in that myself, my brother is an avid hunter and owns over 150 guns. He also has a gun club where he teaches kids 11 through 20 how to safely carry and use firearms. And he also agrees that gun regulations in this country need radical change. So if he’s in favor of that and not afraid of that, why is anyone else?

Your analogy about banning cars and alcohol is almost silly. That shows how far off you are in understanding what I’m really saying. We have laws in this country to regulate drinking and driving. We have put speed limits on highways and inner-city streets. We’ve placed age restrictions on how old you have to be to buy alcohol. And while they fail a lot of times they are there and we do try to enforce them when possible.

And you bring up the amendments 13th, 14th, and 15th to abolish slavery. That too, was my point in bringing it up in the first place! We made amendments to that part of the bill for rights because it needed change. Everyone is better off for that change. Everyone! And the second amendment now needs to come into the 21st century as well. The argument that "I admit that guns in the wrong hands are very dangerous to public safety, but the Second Amendment says they have a right to do it anyway so I waive any responsibility to change that."

I do not agree with you that gun ‘control’ is a sad fallacy. There are numbers to support it working but each side of this argument will seek out the numbers to support their stand and so it’s a waste of time to even discuss the benefits. Polls are meaningless as well, because as an example ‘you can honestly say that 50% of the people polled think a law is working’ if you only poll two people and one thinks they are. It would be an honest poll but ridiculously misleading!

You have to look at countries that have regulations in place already. The UK is a bit harder to bring into the equation because even their law enforcement people don’t carry guns. I’m certainly not advocating that!

Do we know for absolute certainty that if we had every reasonable law in place, that things like school violence would stop? No. But we do know one thing for certain; there would have been fewer of them, and there would have been fewer kids killed in the last several years in America. We know that for certain. Cho was known to have mental problems; it was on record. He had a history of violent thinking and known to carry a lot of anger and hatred. And he still obtained guns. So we obviously have a problem, right? He went through all the proper legal channels to get his guns. As a gun owner and knowing about them, don't you want to help with finding a solution or do you just want to turn your back and shoot for fun and sport?

Arthur Caplan said...

As Ginger said, it is not just guns. In all my life I never thought I would write those words after a massacre involving mass murder with a gun. But after the intense media coverage of this past event, I am more fully convinced than ever that we need to fix a whole system, and not just one part if it.
I don't buy that "guns don't kill people, people kill people." Too many guns with too much firepower are too readily available. Politically, we lack the will to do anything about that problem. It is time to start fixing that problem.
But it is also time to start fixing a mental health system that serves too few, costs too much, protects too little and cannot even find the means to help those like Cho who are clearly in desperate need. Cho was an angry outcast preoccupied with thoughts of violence against those who he thought were bullying, victimizing or just plain ignoring him.
He had profound social withdrawal, suicidal thinking and destructive fantasies and was a known stalker. The scared people. But he fell through the cracks, the cracks in a law that's not administered to properly because it's not adequate; the cracks of a university bureaucracy and a hodge-podge mental health system.

Report after report over the past decade has warned that most public mental-health systems have, to quote one, "all but disintegrated." Such systems, whether local, state or federal, are badly fragmented and ill-equipped to address our nation's mental health in a comprehensive manner.

States have been balancing their budgets on the backs of the mentally ill for years. A recent example is North Carolina, where 33 percent cuts in the state budget have been proposed.

But you don't really need to read the reports or look at the budgets. Look out your window.

Most of the homeless people wandering around America's cities are mentally ill. Try to get help for your anorexic daughter, alcoholic brother-in-law or suicidal spouse and see what happens. See what kind of police or mental-health response you get if someone threatens or harasses you repeatedly. Good luck to you brothers and sisters.
Maybe now, after Virginia Tech, we can at least find the will to do these things?

For the consideration of family & friends...