Massacre at Virginia Tech

The deadliest single shooting incident in US history has taken place. Wikipedia has a timeline of events. Pajamas have a rundown of coverage and commentary here.

Trauma on this scale, amplified by phonecam images from the scene and blog/Livejournal entries from students immediately affected, demands mourning and understanding followed by interpretation. I believe it’s too soon to start the tele/technical determinist blame flame games (eg. blaming guns themselves, or teh medias). However, the uncovering of any verifiable causes as we understand them in the naive scientific sense will always be partial, constructed and incomplete – a phenomenon compounded in this case by news of the suicide of the gunman.

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writer, singer, webwrangler, blogger, comedy tragic | about.me/vivsmythe

Posted in Disasters, life
146 comments on “Massacre at Virginia Tech
  1. Christine Keeler says:

    Any money on how long it will take Coulter and Malkin to lay the blame at the feet of “liberals”?

  2. Spiros says:

    Horrible.

    Before anyone starts slagging the Americans (guns, violent culture etc) , let’s not forget the same thing happened at Monash University a few years ago, albeit on s smaller scale.

  3. tigtog says:

    Early reports have it that he was looking for his girlfirend.

  4. observa says:

    Obviously there will need to be a full and thorough enquiry to determine that postmodernism in our schools is to blame and then bulldoze Virginia Tech out of respect to the slain. You know it makes senses.

  5. Lefty E says:

    How bloody awful.

  6. Laura says:

    how is it the deadliest shooting incident in US history, though?

  7. FDB says:

    Deadliest single gunman spree shooting.

    Second in the world to Port Arthur.

  8. Another Kim says:

    Before anyone says another word..

    a mom got a horrible call today. Or a dad did.

    A smart lady or geentleman is gone.

    Just like those students in Baghdad who died a day ago.

    Don’t mean or astute for a day or two.

    This hurts and they’ll read it someday.

  9. Another Kim says:

    that will teach me to keyboard better, someday.

  10. Lang Mack says:

    One thing that is in common with these tragedies , no matter where they happen ,is that they are planned, the people who commit them have got amply supply of ammunition and fire arms to inflict as much damage as possible. You don’t get a bit annoyed and grab a weapon to let of steam and manage to kill as many as they do without getting your means to do so as an arrangement well prior to the event.And they mostly seem cool and in control whilst delivering the carnage. Also, mostly no indication of what they intend.

  11. From what I can make of them, neither Coulter nor Malkin are left wingers.

    They are believers in personal responsibility, not in 3rd party abstract blame.

    It is more likely they will lay the blame where it belongs, at the feet of the culprit.

  12. Laura, I suppose the Battle of Antietam has it beat.

    However, as far as spree killings by one or a few individuals with a firearm or firearms go, it’s probably the worst in US history.

  13. Oh, and if I may be somewhat predictable, according to FBI figures roughly 20 woman are killed by their husbands or boyfriends every week in the USA (dunno what the statistic is in Australia, of course).

    While I of course feel sad for the people who died here, one might suggest that spree killings are a relatively low priority in terms of reducing the number of murders.

  14. “the deadliest shooting incident in US history”
    The Sioux, for one might disagree with that.

  15. Another Kim says:

    There have been many deadlier days.

    Just for today, let it be the day they died.

    Robert Bolard, if anyone knows when you die,then may it be watered down with someone else’s eulogy.

  16. This guy’s story really got to me. He blocked the door while his students jumped out the window and got shot in the process. He was also a Holocaust survivor.

    That is the definition of black serendipity.

  17. Another Kim says:

    Brave man, that one.

  18. Bridie says:

    As terrible and sad and sickening as it is, I do find it obscene how disproportionate it is that people like Another Kim and SL automatically show greater interest in and pity for Americans who die from arbitrary violence in comparison to the everyday slaughter and violence that afflicts and impinges on far more people proportionally planet-wise in, e.g., Somalia, Ethiopia, Chechyna, Mexico, El Salvador, Brazil, Cambodia, India, China, Tibet, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, etc, i.e the majority citzenry of the world, than it does in the US – New Orleans and its heartbreaking, tragic American equivalents notwithstanding.

    It is important to humanise protagonists, “victims”, and the objects of pity, it is utilitarian, but it really sticks in my craw that those who are given that meagre dignity are, as skepticlawyer illustrates in her “concern”, yet again, almost always, the enormously privileged, from the most privileged country on Earth.

    This is simply, uncivilised – a failure of humanity.

  19. Imus says:

    Hrrbl…stll, i’s nt s wfl s whn sd “nppy hdd hs” nd ‘m s vry, vry srry fr tht.

    [disemvoweled for offtopic trolling – moderator]

  20. tigtog says:

    Bridie, Another Kim is American herself, so it’s not surprising she takes an interest in news in her own country. And why single out SL for her brief comment remarking on one man’s brave self-sacrifice for others in this horror?

    How dreadfully disappointed you must be every single day in the glaring imperfections of others who aren’t as pure as you. It’s very dreary for us, it must be stiflingly monotonous for you.

  21. tigtog says:

    FFS Bridie, Another Kim even made a point of mentioning deaths in Baghdad yesterday in her first comment.

    Also, unless you’re actually cyberstalking their every comment elsewhere you couldn’t possibly know whether anybody’s interest here is “disproportionate”, even if you had any standing to make such a judgement.

  22. Bridie says:

    tigtog:

    It’s very dreary for us, it must be stiflingly monotonous for you.

    Who is “us”? Who or what are you speaking on behalf of, one wonders?

    And who do you think I am? I know nothing about you. I see that you post and comment here a lot but I usually don’t read either of these.

    Conversely, it is odd that you seem to have a handle on me – an infrequent commentator. What gives?

  23. Lang Mack says:

    Bridie, I feel for your concerns, and please feel free to be critical of me, “uncivilised ” a “failure of humanity” is trite, the fellow who Skeptlaw indicated ,was a Holocaust survivor ,or may have been, if not, why would she know or suggest such a thing, if so, I feel he the fellow, would know a little bit about humanity, and know just a touch more about grief than anyone of us here.
    Humanity is when your neighbour beats up his wife and your other neighbour, humane,intervenes.Being humane or humanitarian is a far cry from humanity.
    Overall, what your saying is correct, however I think it is somewhat callous to make personal comments in a discussion of this nature…

  24. Pavlov's Cat says:

    Bridie, the thing is, why does it have to be either/or? We can’t all care about everything all the time.

    Personally, I’m enraged about the bloody stupid US gun laws, but at the moment that’s mainly because they made those particular deaths unnecessary as well as tragic, not out of some impersonal ideological ideal.

    Thanks to SL for that link to Prof Librescu’s story. What a life. I wonder if it’s some consolation to his family that he died so well; it would be to me.

  25. jo says:

    jezus bridie, try being a grown up for 10 minutes, and show some respect for which ever innocents are dead, in this case a bunch of uni students & lecturers going about their business.

    obviously, it has gorn way over your head, that this site is frequented by alot of ex- uni-students, ex-uni lecturers, current uni students and current uni lecturers…. and quite a few Americans etc…..do need ya need a map, love?

    when i first moved to melb, my first house was in ramsden st, clifton hill – across the road from julian knight’s house and just 100 yards from where he hid, and shot & killed people stuck in traffic on hoddle street, or people walking to get the bus etc. they planted some little gums trees to represent the dead in the median strip etc. i don’t think i ever walked past or drove past there (for many years) after, and didn’t think about those poor innocent people, who just happened to be in the wrong place etc.

  26. Another Kim says:

    I was thinking of students in Baghdad who died yesterday and students who died in Virginia today when I wrote my comment.

    I was thinking about mindless violence.

    Who knows what you’re on about.

  27. Another Kim says:

    That was to Bridie

  28. This seems like a good opportunity to submit a Howard-hugging comment. Since Howard passed the anti-gun laws Australia has not had a repetition of a lone gunman massacre.

    The Open Society is a constant dialectic between individual autonomy and institutional authority. Howard can take substantial credit for the humanitarian consequences of this authoritarian legislation. Sometimes, as every parent knows, you have to be coercive to be kind.

  29. Another Kim on 17 April 2007 at 9:15 pm

    I was thinking of students in Baghdad who died yesterday and students who died in Virginia today when I wrote my comment.

    I was thinking about mindless violence.

    So was I. Regarding Mans Inhumanity to Man: Why are so many Iraqis willing to mass-murder each other with such gusto?

    Is it America’s fault for violently deposing Saddam Hussein & the Baathists, the only dictatororial party strong enough to keep the peace?

    Is it the fault of imposing democracy on a multi-ethnic state, a utopian policy that Mill warned against over a century ago?

    Or is sectarian barbarism the generic condition of the tribal in-breds that characterise so much of Islamic Southern Asia?

    Any one of these answers, or some combination of them, must contain much of the answer to this burning question. In any case, the answer is not kind to those who are pinning their humanitarian hopes on the global progress of liberal institutions.

  30. casey says:

    i think all would agree its a bad day for a lot of people in Virginia. Yet I think Bridie raises a valid issue.

    i suspect we can only empathise and imagine and rehearse our responses to such a degree as this within our own culture. We are saturated with media stories and the heroic and or poignant tales of individuals. We are given names, histories, faces. We are given both age and youth, cut down in a hail of bullets. We see vigils and tear stained faces on the news. We are given narratives and we become invested in these narratives. it becomes all the more compelling because we are drawn into the power of the narrative which uses the gaze of empathy to siginify. They say the politics of empathy flattens difference. That it is only in a state of sameness that empathy works. i do also think in these instances it may be that the violence experienced by people in the non west stays anonymous and therefore comfortable because we are not groomed into the powerful narrative of loss and tragedy by the media. it is also something to consider that it is difficult for westerners to to instinctively feel empathy when the horrors going on in the middle east were set off by the west. perhaps rather than just otherness, the investment of the west in that violence results in an avoidance of empathy because of a sense of some kind of guilt.

    is this off the topic?

    Recently I saw a book only just released and im sorry i dont remember the name, but it was about the rescue of an iraqi dog at its evacuation to america by a u.S. soldier. it was me by the way, who quickly flipped to the end to see if the dog got out (he did) yet the tales of the people of iraq seem strangely anonymous, the images the same old recycled stereotypes

    I think we need some kind of universality to feel and maybe the absense of responsibility. What more universal narrative than the unbidden violence of a lone gunman, unlucky in love, inflicted without reason on the young and the old, on the grounds of the hallowed academy, a violence free of the politics of war in which the west is implicated?

  31. philip travers says:

    The 2cnd ww ended on what date and year?The Holocaust a real event occured where and when over what time span?The Professor was aged what today?His research areas could mean he already assessed he could of been a target,why, risk the kids?62 years have past almost since say1945 .And he survived the holocaust as well!?There ly the doubts which may or may not be an expedient to others sense of reality.From this distance not quite real as events unfold.Curious how Fox gets all the juicy facts of description.

  32. Katz says:

    I drove up Hoddle street 10 minutes before Julian Knight opened fire.

    We’re not talking about random events here.

    You’re more likely to be hit by lightning if you stand on a hilltop. You’re more likely to be gunned down in some places than in others.

    Some cultures produce more maladjusted men than others.

    Some cultures give greater encouragement than others to these men to act out their frustrations and aggressions.

    Some cultures provide easier access than others to dangerous weapons that maximise the consequences of rage.

    These variables can be changed. But this change is difficult to achieve mostly because many people don’t want change.

    Those people who don’t want change call Julian knight a random event.

  33. Bridie says:

    obviously, it has gorn way over your head, that this site is frequented by alot of ex- uni-students, ex-uni lecturers, current uni students and current uni lecturers…. and quite a few Americans etc…..do need ya need a map, love?

    That is exactly my point.

    What does having in common being an ex- or current uni student, ex-uni lecturer, or citizen of Australia or the United States have to do with feeling a greater degree of empathy with and sorrow for the victims of violence?

    Your POV is morally as risible as the cretins who run the MSM media when they highlight the number of Australians who are killed in accidents, or wars, or natural disasters overseas. The whole mindset of tribal affilation and valuing some lives, because of common livelihood, nationality (completely accidental and secondary considerations) over others, quite frankly is primitive and to more evolved human beings, primitive, incomprehensible and grotesque.

  34. Laura says:

    Actually Jack, as Spiros already pointed out, there was a similar event at Monash about five years ago.

    In relation to what dk.au says in his post, I absolutely don’t believe it’s too soon to be thinking about gun control. It would be if it was just a party-political issue, or a way to score points – with something like this, there will never be a good time for that kind of game.

    But as Pavlov’s Cat has said at her blog earlier today, and as Jack is saying (I think), John Howard’s actions after Port Arthur showed that it’s possible to put partisan allegiances aside and take the decision.

    Port Arthur will always be remembered with grief by Australians but to my mind the fact that the country responded to that event by banning guns salvages something. I’m not saying it lessens the horror or the misery, rather that it’s the most fitting and real expression of sympathy and sincere resolve not to let it ever happen again.

  35. mark says:

    It’s horrible, altogether stupid and wasteful of beautiful young lives. All for the screwed ego of a now dead misfit.
    It will be interesting to see if the Shrub Jr. placates the gun lobby in his statements, or left-foots the growing opposition to his leadership by proposing some sort of gun control.
    Methinks he isn’t the cynical opportunist that we have as a leader, more the puppet autocrat.

    This tragedy is profound pain and anguish for everyone involved. There’s the deeper problem of young kids seeing it as yet another example of the horrible world from which to escape via the cult of cheap celebrity and shallow experience.

  36. What does having in common being an ex- or current uni student, ex-uni lecturer, or citizen of Australia or the United States have to do with feeling a greater degree of empathy with and sorrow for the victims of violence?

    Because humans are creatures of flesh and blood, not spirit. Most humans (including I) simply don’t have the empathy to feel for every last person in the world all the time.

    The whole mindset of tribal affilation and valuing some lives, because of common livelihood, nationality (completely accidental and secondary considerations) over others, quite frankly is primitive and to more evolved human beings, primitive, incomprehensible and grotesque.

    Primitive? We are primitive in many ways, including our social relations. Nothing to be ashamed of.

    Incomprehensible? Not to anyone who grasps the history and prehistory of human beings.

    Grotesque? Depends how judgemental you are of other “less-evolved” people.

    Perhaps part of “humanity” is not despising your fellow humans for their flaws.

  37. jo says:

    sorry casey , i think bridie has a whole other agenda – she finds our response “obscene” – not the massacre…our response.

    bridie, you neglected to mention the most bloodiest of all wars since WWII, (amongst others) with the greatest loss of human life….. just in the last decade – over 4 years – …..about 4 million people estimated to have been killed? …..you didn’t even bother to mention them…instead you list – Mexico and Brazil, India, China and PNG – these countries have many problems no doubt, and alot of terrible poverty – but no dreadful wars for many decades….

    FFS – at least get it right……

    Congo. Democratic Republic of Congo.

  38. But as Pavlov’s Cat has said at her blog earlier today, and as Jack is saying (I think), John Howard’s actions after Port Arthur showed that it’s possible to put partisan allegiances aside and take the decision.

    IIRC, the Howard Government’s plans for gun control were released 48-72 hours after the Port Arthur shootings, if that.

  39. jo says:

    I always think of Barrie Unsworth, who lost the 1988 NSW state election on gun control and tried v. hard to interest other State Premiers in the issue, without any luck.

    It was always going to take somebody from the Coalition to deal with gun control ….and the Nationals, at the same time.

  40. DavidL says:

    It will be interesting to see if the Shrub Jr. placates the gun lobby in his statements, or left-foots the growing opposition to his leadership by proposing some sort of gun control.

    The gun issue in the US is not party political. Giuliani is openly anti-gun as are the Democrat candidates to varying degrees (while mostly denying it). The NRA is only a Bush supporter because he supports the Second Amendment. It supports pro-gun Democrats with the same vigour as pro-gun Republicans and has no position on any other issue.

    The US actually has quite a lot of gun control already, especially in Washington DC, one of the worst places for gun violence. None of it has done any good. In fact, when gun control was relaxed in the form of concealed carry permits, crime started to fall. I’m not suggesting a connection – on the contrary, I’m saying there’s no connection. Gun control is not crime control.

    The UK has a complete ban on pistols. Not even the country’s Olympic shooters can have them. Yet London youth gangs mostly carry pistols and regularly kill each other. It is primarily due to imported culture among Jamaicans (Yardies), but it sure looks like the so-called American gun culture.

    Making guns illegal hasn’t stopped criminals ever.

  41. Another Kim says:

    David J. says, ..”humans are creatures of flesh and blood, not spirit..”

    wink,nudge and a smile

    Anyone who has had a visit can tell you otherwise.

  42. jo says:

    DavidL

    Civilians are mostly victims of domestic gun violence which is much reduced when you have gun control, and also suicides by gunshot wound, and gun handling accidents, and kids playing with guns etc. (and criminals dont usually take out 35 civilians in one go)

    As you said – London gang members end up killing ‘each other’ (as do gang members in every country)……..but surely answers to gang violence, including including shooting deaths, armed hold-ups and other nasty stuff – would be very different to legal gun control measures.

    ie. since when did crims ever use legally purchased and registered weapons to commit crimes?

    “Hello, hello, this gun that killed that bloke is registered to Neddy Smith – of Banksia Street, Waterloo – lets pick ‘im upâ€?..etc

  43. Anyone who has had a visit can tell you otherwise.

    To be more ‘ecumenical’:

    Whether or not humans are creatures of spirit, we are certainly creatures of flesh and blood, and the way that drives our empathy, and our responses to death, should never be forgotten.

  44. Mark says:

    I think whether or not empathy can and should be extended to others is a valid debate, but I don’t think this is the thread for it, and I don’t think attacking others for showing empathy to those who’ve been the victim of a horrendous crime bespeaks much moral sensitivity in itself, to be quite frank.

  45. tigtog says:

    Mark: Hear, hear!

    I apologise to the commentariat for allowing myself to be provoked, thus helping to derail the thread.

  46. I’m slackjawed to discover there is a category of crime called “most people killed in an education/campus massacre in USA”.

    Why doesn’t anyone burst into an aged care home and slaughter 30 residents?

    I’m all for draconian gun laws.

    I salute John Howard for his effort after Port Arthur.

    I’m a bit out of practice, but just for the record I can outshoot most right to bear arms gun huggers. And I have the trophies to prove it

  47. Mick Strummer says:

    Jack Strocchi said

    Since Howard passed the anti-gun laws Australia has not had a repetition of a lone gunman massacre.

    True. There hasn’t been a lone gunman massacre since Port Arthur. But given the evidence that has subsequently emerged of corrupt gun dealers and others diverting surrendered firearms (surrended by law abiding owners as a result of the “Howard gun laws”) to the black market where they were acquired by criminals and others, we might take a pause, and say that the fact that there has not been a lone gunman massacre since Port Arthur is due to the vagaries of chance and good fortune rather than automatically saying that it is the result of Howard’s gun laws.
    Guns are powerful technology, and society is better off, generally, if they don’t float around in huge numbers. But I don’t know if we can conclude yet, given recent research that argues no significant decline in firearm deaths outside of a trend that already existed pre-Port Arthur and the Howard gun laws, that

    This seems like a good opportunity to submit a Howard-hugging comment.

    Cheers…

  48. Only just checked on this thread now – have been away doing other stuff. I thought the academic’s personal courage was extraordinary, that’s all. That’s why I linked to his story. There are other, better written accounts than that babelfish Hebrew page, but that captured more of his life. I just thought – Holocaust, Communism, then this.

  49. Christine Keeler says:

    From what I can make of them, neither Coulter nor Malkin are left wingers.

    They are believers in personal responsibility, not in 3rd party abstract blame.

    It is more likely they will lay the blame where it belongs, at the feet of the culprit.

    Thanks SATP. I asked earlier how long it would take them to lay the feet at the blame of ‘lubrals’. In Malkin’s case about a nanosecond. It’s all the fault of that pesky ban on students being allowed to pack heat on campus, apparently:

    http://www.michellemalkin.com/

    Shit-brained freak just doesn’t cover it.

  50. I imagine that Larry Hincker, spokesman for Virginia Tech, feels like a shit brained freak when recalling his statement made in January this year.

    http://www.roanoke.com/news/roanoke/wb/wb/xp-50658

  51. Christine Keeler says:

    Good grief Steve, what planet are you on? You’d be happier, for instance, if all your patrons were carrying roscoes?

    Unfortunately, given the irredeemable gun-culture in the US, this debate will follow an entirely predictable trajectory until the next massacre.

  52. You will find Christine, that such massacres tend to not start in places where there is a good chance bystanders will, without delay, shoot dead the perpetrator.

    Indisputably, Virginia Tech’s spokesman Larry Hincker has made (in January) what has transpired to be one of the stupidest statements of 2007.

  53. Another Kim says:

    I have made a very solid decision.

    If and when anyone points a gun and tells me to get in a line, anywhere,even if lots of other people do..

    I WON’T!

    I will run, I will scream and fight as I run to pull the gun out of his or her hands.

  54. Christine Keeler says:

    Didn’t answer my question Steve.

  55. Christine Keeler says:

    You will find Christine, that such massacres tend to not start in places where there is a good chance bystanders will, without delay, shoot dead the perpetrator.

    THE SCENE: A university classroom somewhere in America. Students settle in to the lecture when suddenly a lone gunman bursts into the room wielding a variety of weapons and starts shooting. Panic ensues as everybody hits the floor while bullets ricochet from the walls.

    Our main characters, Steve and Dan, a pair of badass jocks, quickly assess the situation and take matters in hand.

    STEVE: “Oh wow, that guy means business! You packin’ Danno?”

    DAN: “You bet dude! Wait! I’m jammed dammit!”

    STEVE: “No sweat. Catch one of my Glocks.” (Steve throws a pistol to Dan on the other side of the room, then snaps two more guns from a pair of shoulder holsters)

    DAN: “Thanks man. Hey he’s aiming at Debbie.”

    STEVE: “You mean that cute blonde in the tight sweater?”

    DAN: “Yeah. Damn she’s hot.”

    STEVE: “No way dude. On my count. One. Two. Three!”

    (Steve and Dan launch themselves into space. Time seems to stand still as their young athletic bodies arc slowly towards the gunman, bullets pumping with oddly alluring flashes from their sleek black pistols. The gunman flails wildly as blood pours from his body, contrasting nicely with his fresh white shirt)

    DEBBIE (rushing towards our heroes): “Oh thank god, you killed him. If it wasn’t for you guys I’d be dead. How can I ever repay you?”

    (Steve and Dan look at each other, their faces break into cheeky smiles to revealing glimmering teeth)

    STEVE and DAN together: “Alright!” (High-five)

    THE END

  56. j_p_z says:

    Wow, CK, that’s gotta win some sort of award for exceptional good taste.

    I’ve got some rather caustic things to say concerning this whole atrocity (and some of the comments here), but I think I’m going to hold my tongue for the moment, out of respect for the dead. Maybe in a week or so. Meanwhile, my thoughts and prayers are with all those whose lives have been marred and lost.

  57. bill says:

    I would vote an international event (Olympic, World Cup, etc) for other countries if I can. It makes it a dangerous place when anyone can have a gun.

  58. professor rat says:

    Inmates at Auschwitz didn’t mind being bombed. They welcomed being bombed. Plus there was a punishment camp for Auschwitz – it was called Mauthhausen.
    These school shootings are not isolated events imho. They are the sigh of the opressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. Pass the ammunition.

  59. j_p_z says:

    At times like this, that are full of horror and stupidity, I always think of a little poem, written by that sanest of poets, Mr. Robert Creeley…

    “I KNOW A MAN”

    As I sd to my friend,
    because I am
    always talking, John, I sd,
    (which is not his name),
    The darkness sur-
    rounds us, what
    can we do against
    it, or else & why not,
    buy a goddamn big car —

    Drive, he sd, for
    Christ’s sake, look
    out where yr going.

  60. Christine, if you ask a question which makes sense, I will be happy to answer it.

    However if you wish me to assume you have all your marbles, don’t write unhinged short play scripts like the one above, it is “men in white coats” territory.

  61. Guise says:

    The day after … waiting for the loonies to make hay out fo the fact that the shooter was South Korean aka a foreigner. Logic is already a victim of this tragedy: The Oz asks for comments via one of the most preposterous conceptual/web links ever – Is campus carnage the cost of freedom? – and manages to score, as the first comment, someone willing to suggest (in a rather self-contradictory post) that mass shootings can be avoided if everyone is armed. No sign of any sense on this issue any time soon,then.

  62. Katz says:

    Ah yes.

    The usual idiots emerge from their bunkers.

    “If only every student at Va Tech had the right to pack heat, the little twerp would have been greased before he squeezed off the first clip.”

    This nonsense is proof positive that gun-oil induced tumescence further impairs already compromised brain function.

    */ begin bitter lampoon of gun nuts.

    In any case, the only sure way of taking a spree killer down in a crowded lecture hall is hand grenades. Glocks are for pussies. A coupla frag grenades would ensure a kill. Surely grenades would fit under the Second Amendment definition of “arms”.

    Now I can hear the namby pambies bleating, “But a lot of other people would be hurt if grenades are lobbed in a crowded lecture hall.”

    Well, yes. But let’s get a bit of moral clarity here folks. Those injuries would be collateral damage only. Surely the intention of the lobber of grenades is not to hurt innocent people. Indeed his (or her) intention is to save them.

    So long as the grenade lobber is targeting only the murderous little twerp, no blame attaches.

    No, the right to carry grenades is the right and proper precaution against the spree killer.

    * / end bitter lampoon of gun nuts.

    It is a melacholy and inevitable fact that these atrocities serve as an incitement to dangerous obsessives whose fascination with vigilante violence serves to legitimise murderous rampages.

  63. Spiros says:

    Brian Handley, an official of National Party in Victoria, has a letter in today’s Oz blaming it on “left liberal secular humanism.”

    Some things are beyond parody.

  64. Christine Keeler says:

    However if you wish me to assume you have all your marbles, don’t write unhinged short play scripts like the one above, it is “men in white coatsâ€? territory.

    Don’t blame me Steve. It’s your fantasy.

  65. dk.au says:

    I think whether or not empathy can and should be extended to others is a valid debate, but I don’t think this is the thread for it, and I don’t think attacking others for showing empathy to those who’ve been the victim of a horrendous crime bespeaks much moral sensitivity in itself, to be quite frank.

    Very well put, Mark. I’d also note the opportunity to comment on the ongoing tragedies in the Congo – or indeed their lack of media attention amongst ethnocentric, elite-oriented liberals – on this post.

    Laura, apologies for the vagueness of the opening sentence to the post – it wasn’t entirely clear that it was a single gunman from the reports I’d read (which was part of the point of the second half of the post). I agree that immediate discussion of gun laws is crucial, though my concern was the derailment by pro/anti gun advocates. Though I doubt, on reflection there are too many of the former blogging outside the US.

  66. joe2 says:

    EMMA ALBERICI: But I do note that this shocking incident in Virginia has occurred 11 days before the anniversary of Australia’s worst shooting spree, at Port Arthur, where 35 people were killed, in fact more than the number killed in Virginia. And yet this country does have some of the world’s toughest laws.

    These are the words of a senior local abc, The World Today, presenter from here…..
    http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2007/s1899413.htm

    I thought these comments most strange. She seems to be suggesting that no matter what your laws are on guns, these incidents are just going to happen.
    Surely, we have the “world’s toughest laws” because of the Port Arthur tragedy.
    One policy our well known liberal PM made, that he has to be congratulated for.

  67. On the contrary Christine, the fantasy is 120% yours. Projection is a tricky thing. Those words came from your keyboard, not mine.

    If I don’t write something it ain’t mine. Please copy & paste where I have ever said anything of the sort.

    Katz has chimed in with the usual hallucigenic induced irrelevancies, some things never change.

    No answers, no insight, just babble.

  68. FaceLift says:

    Bridie and others,
    Of course we empathise with the horror of this massacre in a more heightened way than we do those in wartorn nations, but that doesn’t mean people on this blog don’t empathise, albeit in a different way, with the plight of those who are victims or lose loved ones through war or terror. This site is crammed with, sometimes heated, discussions and arguments over these very matters.

    However, we live in a similar nation to the US where sectrianism isn’t daily punctuated by violence, and where there is a reasonable expectation of safety in public places, including in our high schools. We identify with the victim’s helplessness and terror of being in a room with an armed killer because, in our minds, we can place ourselves there at some time in our lives. We can feel their pain. We identify with the loss parents and friends are experiencing. We sympathise with the school and community which will never be the same.

    It’s harder for us to identify with some of things people have to constantly put up with in other nations. We don’t have guerillas in the hills who could come and rape, pillage and murder in our village at any given time. We don’t go to market places in fear because a suicide bomber may just plan to be there when we’re there. We don’t have tanks and armoured vehicles patrolling our streets to protect the peace. We are actually fighting, with our words, for world where these other nations, prsently in turmoil, will be able to experience the kind of freedom where an event like tis is so rare that it is horrific to us all.

    When horrendous things like this massacre take place in an otherwise peaceful democracy, of course we are all shaken, because the reality of it’s possibility comes home to us. It tells us that none of us is really safe in this world. That there are some crazy people out there with dangerous ideas. There is no balanced reaction, as you suggest, to events like this because there’s nothing balanced about it.

  69. Carol says:

    There’s some similarity in the comments here to what I was served up on a post I wrote many years ago. Generally the flavour was that some people thought other people (including myself) were not giving the right weight to the matter (crime was extremely heinous, no no… some other crime even more heinous). If I were to be so sensitive about what has happened at VT as well as the rest of the world’s atrocities then I ought to be someone who killed themselves a long time ago after feeling guilt on behalf of all humanity for everything that has happened.

    Attempting to dissect or analyse why something has happened instead of just offering up sympathies to the victims on a blog is appropriate. Having differing opinions, however ‘misguided’ or ‘ignorant’ that others might think, is also appropriate. If everyone on LP were to agree on the cause and spend their comments saying how sorry they were, this would be a tribute site, not a thinking-persons blog like it prides itself to be.

    I’m not sure why these sorts of news stories inspire people to comment ‘the impact of this tragedy on me is bigger/more valid than yours’. Surely the only kind of comment worth discouraging are people who relish the bloodbath and wish more had died?

  70. Paul Norton says:

    Ani Di Franco had this to say a few years ago about the wider issues involved.

    To the teeth

    the sun is setting on the century
    and we are armed to the teeth
    we’re all working together now
    to make our lives mercifully brief
    schoolkids keep trying to teach us
    what guns are all about
    confuse liberty with weaponry
    and watch your kids act it out
    every year now like christmas
    some boy gets the milkfed suburban blues
    reaches for the available arsenal
    and saunters off to make the news
    and the women in the middle
    are learning what poor women have always known
    that the edge is closer than you think
    when your men bring the guns home

    look at where the profits are
    that’s how you’ll find the source
    of the big lie that you and i
    both know so well
    in the time it takes this cultural
    death wish to run its course
    they’re gonna make a pretty penny
    and then they’re all going to hell
    he said the chickens all come home to roost
    yeah malcolm forecasted this flood
    are we really gonna sleep through another century
    while the rich profit off our blood?
    true it may take some doing
    to see this undoing through
    but in my humble opinion
    here’s what I suggest we do:

    open fire on hollywood
    open fire on MTV
    open fire on NBC
    and CBS and ABC
    open fire on the NRA
    and all the lies they told us
    along the way
    open fire on each weapons manufacturer
    while he’s giving head
    to some republican senator

    and if i hear one more time
    about a fool’s right
    to his tools of rage
    i’m gonna take all my friends
    and i’m gonna move to canada
    and we’re gonna die of old age

  71. Katz says:

    Would SATP kindly explain why a Glock would be more effective than a hand grenade at stopping a spree killer in a crowded lecture hall?

    1. Where would the Glock be before the shooting started?

    2. How long would it take the possessor of the Glock to open fire?

    3. How many people could the spree killer shoot during that elapse of time?

    4. How would the line of fire be influenced by the movment of panicked persons trying to escape the spree shooter?

    5. How would the Glock possessor overcome that difficulty?

    Or are mere practicalities of little concern to a gun nut mentally undressing a Glock?

  72. Christine Keeler says:

    I dunno Steve. When it comes to lack of insight, babble, and hallucinogenic irrelevancies it seems to me that solving the problem of gun crime with every Tom, Dick and Nutter carrying concealed weapons pretty much takes the cake.

    Wouldn’t want to be in your joint on a Saturday night when the fights break out and everybody is conveniently armed, a proposition you seem quite happy with given your non-response to my earlier question.

  73. Mark says:

    Steve’s behind the eight ball – the wingnut analyses have moved on – far far on:

    http://majikthise.typepad.com/majikthise_/2007/04/shaming_and_bla.html

  74. Pavlov's Cat says:

    My personal adviser on these matters, who has both police and army training, tells me that Glocks are overrated.

    He also tells me it’s a widespread fantasy among those who fancy guns but don’t know much about shooting that you can be sure even of stopping someone, much less killing them, simply by aiming a gun at them and pulling the trigger.

    And he agrees with me that if any of the Virginia Tech students had been armed, there would probably have been more deaths, not fewer.

  75. Christine Keeler says:

    Yes Mark. Apart from the chief suspect – Evil Lurbl Gun Restrictions so ably fingered by Detective Chief Inspector Malkin http://michellemalkin.com/archives/007319.htm – a number of individuals have agreed to come down to the station and are now assisting us with our inquiries:

    1) Lack of manliness because “something is clearly wrong with the men in our culture” http://www.humanevents.com/rightangle/index.php?id=22093&title=where_were_the_men

    2) A lack of John Wayne candoitiveness http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=YzllOTU0MDUzY2NhZDE2YmViYmRiNmE5ZjM1OWQxYTU=

    3) Muslims/Pakistanis and/or Palestinians http://www.debbieschlussel.com/archives/2007/04/who_is_the_asia.html

    4) Teaching evolution and godless secular atheism http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2007/04/16/how-could-loving-god

    5) Loners who spend too much time at the computer http://alicublog.blogspot.com/2007_04_15_archive.html#4890350141083488607#4890350141083488607

    Mexican people smugglers and co-ed dorms may also soon be called in for questioning, so they should definitely not be leaving town at this stage.

    Rest assured though, if the culprit is found to be restrictions on guns for kids away from home for the first time who enjoy lots of partying, drugs and binge-drinking, our justice will be sure and swift.

  76. tigtog says:

    And he agrees with me that if any of the Virginia Tech students had been armed, there would probably have been more deaths, not fewer.

    Of course. A large part of the reason we have gun restrictions is that back in the frontier days when people were armed to the teeth there simply was not the the NRA’s “an armed society is a polite society” fantasy. Instead, everyday disagreements regularly escalated into gunfighting brawls (not the noble duels of gunslinging lore) with unacceptable collateral damage amongst bystanders (usually in saloons, so polite society didn’t much care, but still).

    If only every 10th student at VT had been armed there would have been extra crossfire deaths before the shooter was downed, and then late arriving vigilantes running in with weapons drawn would probably have started picking off defenders because they didn’t know whether they were attackers or defenders.

  77. tigtog says:

    What I want to know is, why is he continually being described as a “jealous boyfriend” instead of a “crazed stalker”?

  78. FDB says:

    Problem is, gun-huggers don’t see the real problem anyway, and develop a massive blind spot when it’s pointed out.

    Even if the body count at the occasional spree killing could be lowered by everyone totin’, that would never outweigh the extra murders committed with the extra weapons – usually on girlfriends, wives etc

    Let’s say one annual massacre kills 3 or 4 instead of 10 or 15. The payoff is every campus across the US bristling with weapons (and drugs and alcohol).

  79. Christine Keeler says:

    If only every 10th student at VT had been armed there would have been extra crossfire deaths before the shooter was downed, and then late arriving vigilantes running in with weapons drawn would probably have started picking off defenders because they didn’t know whether they were attackers or defenders.

    Too easy TT. They would have been the ones wearing the fluoro vests with ‘Good Guy’ emblazoned across the back.

  80. joe2 says:

    All I can say is that Kevin Rudd should thank his lucky stars he has so far remained unlinked, by Canberra journalists and senior government ministers, to the sad events in Virginia. It’s been over 24 hours now. Dolly where are you?

  81. tigtog says:

    Too easy TT. They would have been the ones wearing the fluoro vests with ‘Good Guy’ emblazoned across the back.

    Of course! Anyone who’s bought an official GoodGuy(TM) fluoro vest is magically unable to commit a massacre while wearing it.

    What a relief.

  82. Christine Keeler says:

    That’s right. I suggest we issue a vest free with each handgun purchase.

  83. tigtog says:

    The traditionalists would probably prefer the option of a white cowboy hat, CK.

  84. Christine Keeler says:

    Optional

  85. suz says:

    They would have been the ones wearing the fluoro vests with ‘Good Guy’ emblazoned across the back.

    The Chasers were in a midwestern US state recently, approaching people while wearing t-shirts with something like “Crack dealer” and ‘bag snatcher’ on them – at the time, I thought they were taking their lives in their hands.

  86. Kim says:

    Mexican people smugglers and co-ed dorms may also soon be called in for questioning, so they should definitely not be leaving town at this stage.

    Co-ed dorms have!

    And I’m sorry, some will really think me foolish, but I don’t think dorms should be co-ed, so that crazed, jealous boyfriends can enter their girlfriends’ dorms and kill them and the innocent young men who come to their aid. If it had been a single-sex dorm, the killer might not have been able to enter so readily. There aren’t enough difficulties getting young people through college these days so that we have to deal with “domestic disputes” in their dormitories as well?

    And, sorry again, but thoughts also arise on the killer’s being an English major and on the spiritual emptiness of much education nowadays.

    Link via:

    http://majikthise.typepad.com/majikthise_/2007/04/shaming_and_bla.html

  87. Christine Keeler says:

    Yep. I think that’s just about nailed it Kim. It’s all down to English lit, co-ed dorms, ferners (preferably Arabic), evolution, pussywhipped feminised males, lurbls, secular humanism, and Larry Hincker.

    Seems pretty straightforward to me. Why won’t people listen?

  88. Lang Mack says:

    I only became a cynic ten odd years ago, wonder why?, answer me this,
    Would Howard have rushed in new gun laws if say Australia had an organization with the clout of the NRA?. Nah……

  89. tigtog says:

    Mind you, I think Sadly No! has got us all sussed:

    Shorter Everybody On The Internet: The VTech shootings confirm what I’ve been saying all along.

  90. Pavlov's Cat says:

    We English majors are indeed a bunch of mass murderers, as everyone knows. Poetry will do that to you.

    *thinks: WTF? WTF? WTFF?*

    Can anyone enlighten me here? What on earth is the connection supposed to be?

  91. tigtog says:

    thoughts also arise on the killer’s being an English major and on the spiritual emptiness of much education nowadays.

    Pav:

    *thinks: WTF? WTF? WTFF?*

    English is a *liberal* arts subject, Pav, and all liberals are spiritually empty i.e. godless and therefore have no moral compass to stop them being mass murderers

    Q.E.D.

    (This common US conflation of “liberal education” with “liberal secular humanist politics” with “atheist scum” has been brought to you slowly over many years by Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell et al out of the pure goodness of their shrivelled black hearts)

  92. Hey, at least they’re not picking on lawyers for once!

    /sarc

    I’ll just repeat the comments I made over on the analagous Catallaxy thread:

    1.

    It’s very difficult to know how you’d react in a situation like that. Most people without combat or martial arts training freeze. Even trained military people can turn into a ‘bunny in the headlights’. Students who survived did so by and large by playing possum.

    The Israeli academic (who, as a Holocaust survivor, may have had some more insight into this type of enraged behaviour) at least managed to save his young charges – at his own cost, of course.

    The VT university authorities are now suggesting that earlier bomb threats may have been the same guy – testing out his limits, as it were, to see what he could get away with.

    If someone is that determined, they’re going to kill a lot of people. He went for the gun; McVeigh went the explosives route. Some do the arson thingy – although the latter does tend to work better in areas with wooden buildings.

    Cho had no criminal history; his background checked out. Interestingly he’d removed the serial numbers from the weapons after purchase. Although he’d have to wait longer in a country with stricter gun laws, he’d still get his weapon. Yes, more likely a longarm than a pistol, but still something you can do a lot of damage with – a long-arm admits the possibility of sniper fire.

    And the meticulous preparation various people have pointed to indicated a willingness to wait. That is the frightening part.

    and

    2.

    I think the blaming – presence of guns, lack of guns, uni not getting butt into gear and issuing warnings, disturbed kid not getting diverted before he did real damage – is because this kind of crap is so unpredictable.

    People are fantasizing that some small change in initial conditions could somehow change the final outcome. I don’t think that’s the case. It’s not pleasant to have to admit that some things admit of almost no rational explanation or possibility for furture planning (that dreaded retrospectoscope again), and just happen. Randomly.

  93. Even trained military people can turn into a ‘bunny in the headlights’.

    A friend of mine who has been in the Army talks about studies that show over half (I think) of trained soldiers in their first combat never fire their guns.

  94. Bridie says:

    Lawrence Krubner | April 18, 2007 at 02:00 AM

    The killing of American college students was fatuous before it even happened; the killing of Iraqi or Afghani civilians by terrorist American troops is not fatuous.The former is an imitation of itself; the latter rends fresh blood as we speak into an eternal, future present.

    Anyone who participates in this saccharine tear fest in light of the American state terror demeans the former- as almost something to be wished for- if only to confirm and display the dreadful solipsism endemic to Americans.

    Just as for Iraq, no one cares-only there Americans don’t even pretend to.

    What is worse is the pretense, rendering all these tedious paens of concern vulgar in the extreme. Just like 9-11.

    Amen. This is what keeps us keeping on: the voice of sanity, reason, depth, spirituality, integrity – ever-insistent – and, as always, rising above, never obliterating, but at least challenging, the priggish, smug, vulgar, insincere, sentimental, meretricious swamp.

  95. Bridie, here’s a link to a page that has links to the victims’ myspace pages.

    Why don’t you go there and lecture the people posting “I’ll miss you” comments? I’m sure they’d welcome your moral guidance.

    Would you be so good as to provide a list of groups of people that you think it’s OK to feel compassion for?

  96. observa says:

    I dunno it all seems so far away and remote to this Adelaidean
    http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,21578612-1246,00.html?from=public_rss

  97. Pavlov's Cat says:

    Cho was a creative writing student, Pav.

    Oh dear yes, I know. I had a bit of a look at ‘Richard McBeef’ already. Clearly not an okay psyche there.

    What blows me away is the backwards logic — the idea being implied by Whatshername that the murderously inclined are made that way by reckless exposure to Wordsworth and Emily Dickinson. My guess is this one was bonkers long before he took up literature and playwriting.

    I have known and taught many — too many — Creative Writing students, and while there is indeed a high incidence of harmless battiness, none have been mass murderers to my knowledge. Carmen Lawrence’s media advisor, yes (Hi Josh!). But mass murderers? Not hardly.

  98. Laura says:

    Well the one psycho campus gunman I knew, I met in an English tutorial.

  99. Pavlov's Cat says:

    Oh.

    Uh oh.

    Too much Blake, p’raps.

  100. joe2 says:

    “I dunno it all seems so far away and remote to this Adelaidean”

    Seems most strange, that one, indeed, observa.

    Not so long ago, gays were falling into that river and police were finding it difficult to answer questions, then.

    It is a spooky, weird , world we live in , for sure.

    I blame the comma.

  101. Laura says:

    Oh, no. There’s nothing to be read into the fact that the Virginia man was doing liberal arts or creative writing, and people who think there is are dreaming.

    The plays he wrote, though – highly disturbing. They made me think – what exactly *can* a teacher or another observer do, when they come across someone who’s displaying signs of being mental? I understand his teacher sent him for counselling, as you absolutely would do, but it didn’t help, did it.

  102. Mick Strummer says:

    Actually, I think the truly disgusting thing about this event and its aftermath is the way that everyone has jumped on it and tried to use it to further their own narrow agenda, whatever it might be. Seriously, the range of arguments that have been derived from this horriblde tragedy have spanned the gammut from:

    A)everyone should be armed all the time

    to
    B)no-one should be armed ever.

    There are all sorts of other alternatives that have emerged, mainly put by people who claim they know exactly how situations like this can be guranteed never to occur again.
    Excuse me for not being omnipotent, but I don’t have a clue why this particular event occurred, how it might have been prevented, nor how it might be stopped from recurring. I myself can’t claim to have those sort of definitive answers to the issues thrown up by mass killings by lone gunmen.
    Personally, I think guns are a powerful interesting high precision technology with much influence on history. I also think that guns should not be available to the citizenry without really good reason – including the cops. If people want to shoot and to own a gun, then let them store it at a gun club or at a firearms registery rather than being able to keep it at home.
    Anyway….
    Cheers…

  103. joe2 says:

    “Too much Blake, p’raps.”

    Probably, while looking for blame.
    After the comma, you would have to post-humourously arrest Blake.

  104. observa says:

    Blame the muthers joe2. Jeez, straight away we had Adelaide Councillor Anne Moran calling for all the councils along the Torrens to get together to install netting or barriers or something along the Torrens. Faaaaaaaaaaarrrrrk! You win Osama, I give up.

  105. joe2 says:

    The Sick Rose.

    O Rose, thou art sick.
    The invisible worm,
    That flies in the night
    In the howling storm:

    Has found out thy bed
    Of crimson joy:
    And his dark secret love
    Does thy life destroy.

    Seriously, speedy poems like that should not be available to undergrad English majors with P plates.

  106. observa says:

    Of course, silly me. Drain the Torrens and bulldoze Virginia Tech. Allah be praised!

  107. Pavlov's Cat says:

    Joe2, and then there’s ‘better to strangle an infant in its cradle than to nurse unsatisfied desires’, or whatever it is.

    Laura — indeed. Anyone interested in what such a student’s teachers might, should or can do will be interested in this piece from the Washington Post.

  108. tom says:

    Yes, I’ll definitely vote for a safer country for all the international events.

  109. Pavlov's Cat says:

    Observa, could you explain directly what you’re on about, please? So far it’s been imposible to tell. Are you saying that two drowned babies don’t matter, or that all women are idiots (they seem the two most likely options), or that Adelaide is a small city ha ha isn’t that hilarious, or what? And whatever it is, is it on topic?

  110. Nabakov says:

    The Vtech berserker sounds like a sad, sick, festering man who didn’t get laid enough while being taunted beyond distraction by a media/advertising constructed world of sexy yuppies he felt was forever closed to him. There’s a lot of ’em out there. Fortunately many let off steam just by blogging or driveby snarking.

    But every now and then, one goes really berserk in real life.

    As SL points out, society can’t really anticipate or defend itself against such malfunctioning units who have been calmly plotting and planning a final orgiastically thantos-related curtain call.

    The late 20th century and early 21st century is a bloody wild crazy time and I personally am prepared to risk the very random and rare berserker who snapped because of it in order to enjoy being alive at such a time. Of course the parents and relatives of the VTech dead would feel quite differently.

    There’s probably some kind of homeostatic principle at work here. Living in a developed western country, you run far less risk than the rest of the world of being taken out by communicable dieseases, major industrial accidents or a mistargeted JDAM. On the other hand, there’s more risk of men getting stretched too far by not fitting in and then getting access to deadly technology to settle real or imaginery scores. Still, the yearly average death toll from such crazies is still far less than a bad day in Baghdad. I can handle that tradeoff. And I bet most Iraqis or Congolese would love to make such a tradeoff too.

    Which bring me to guns. I like guns, they are beautifully designed and very ingenious pieces of technology that have a real charisma. I like shooting, the whole zen thing of putting your mind and body in harmony with a precision instrument to produce an immediate and clearly identifiable result. Then cleaning them afterwards while old farts (and fartesses) tell funny stories and pass the booze.

    But I think that like any lethal piece of technology, guns and their users should be effectively managed for the common good. At the very least, especially in urban areas, it should be just as hard to acquire a shooting license and a gun as a driving license and car, if not more so.

    Too late for the poor old US of A yes. The horse has already well and truly bolted there, not just in terms of access to guns but also because of the pressure cooker environment that makes loser males blow their cork in a way that doesn’t happen in say “a military weapon in every basement” Switzerland.

    But for Aus, we still have a window of opportunity to tone down both easy access to firearms and and the succeed at all costs at everything climate that drives weird and unbalanced men into killer rages.

    Imagine if Obby was 30 years younger, jeered out of the smoko room, unmarried and armed with more than just irrelevant News Corp links.

  111. Nabakov says:

    Imagine if Obby was 30 years younger, jeered out of the smoko room, unmarried and armed with more than just irrelevant News Corp links.

    Or Birdy with a stolen ADF M72 rocket launcher.

    Actually to be fair to Graeme, he’d probably choose a symbolic target first…I hope.

  112. Katz says:

    Beautifully observed Nabs.

    Your point about homeostasis is le mot juste.

    But for Aus, we still have a window of opportunity to tone down both easy access to firearms and and the succeed at all costs at everything climate that drives weird and unbalanced men into killer rages.

    Denial of easy access to firearms is Howard’s great contribution to the tweaking of Nabs’ homeostatic simultaneous cultural equations.

    It is remarkable, however, that the “succeed at all cost climate” is very much a part of Australia’s cultural milieu. Australia’s amoks are out there. Fortunatetely, few have access to sidearms. A bolt-action rifle is deadly enough, but not in enclosed spaces and not in concentrated moments of rage. Amoks know this and eschew an anticlimactic, slow-motion bloodletting as unworthy of their sacrificial egress from this world.

  113. The late 20th century and early 21st century is a bloody wild crazy time and I personally am prepared to risk the very random and rare berserker who snapped because of it in order to enjoy being alive at such a time. Of course the parents and relatives of the VTech dead would feel quite differently.

    And ain’t that the dead-set truth.

  114. Nabakov says:

    A bolt-action rifle is deadly enough

    Damn right. I was shown by an aged relative exactly how his great uncle and fellow members of the “Old Contemptibles” hacked the old bolt action SMLE into a truly rapid fire weapon. Hint: you use the second finger on the trigger.

    But a gun that shoots as fast as you pull the trigger without reloading should never be put into the hands of anyone without at least some background checks and documention.

    An old shottie loaded with rock salt should do fine for self-defence. The bang alone is pants-wetting.

  115. Brian says:

    Paul Mullen’s comments are worth a read.

    the trouble is that there are a large number of angry, disaffected, hopeless young men out there, and, you know, which of them are going to go on to such a tragedy and which not is not easy to pick on.

    So in terms, in simple terms, spotting them before they do it is not easy.

    The tragedy in this case is that his English professor did spot him, but because he hadn’t specifically threatened anyone the university authorities and the police felt they couldn’t take any action.

    Apart from gun laws, we should ask why our society produces such “pathetic isolates” and what interventions are appropriate.

  116. observa says:

    “Observa, could you explain directly what you’re on about, please?”

    Just trying to make some sense out of senseless deaths that happen about me. Sort of coming out in sympathy with you all and trying to get in the mood of sensible suggestions as to what to do about it. Didn’t we bulldoze that perfectly good cafe down in Tassie after Martin Bryant paid it a visit? Just joining the dots.

  117. observa says:

    Although I must confess I was a bit non plussed at Ms Moran’s suggestion to fence the Torrens after a cluster of 2 fatal getaway baby prams. Obviously cheaper to drain it, but then you know we practical business types lack the warm fuzzy touch.

  118. Nabakov says:

    Just trying to make some sense out of senseless deaths that happen about me.

    And failing woefully.

    .

    ..to determine that postmodernism in our schools is to blame and then bulldoze Virginia Tech out of respect to the slain

    You’re like a 11 year old nerd showing off his barely grasped knowledge of sex to a grownup that’s just been through a nasty breakup.

    Didn’t we bulldoze that perfectly good cafe down in Tassie after Martin Bryant paid it a visit?

    Nope. The remains have been turned into a powerful and haunting memorial. To the slain.

    A fascinating thing about Port Arthur is just how they’ve incorporated Bryant into the tragic history of that tragic cove. There are striking memorials to his victims but nowhere ever is his name mentioned. Just “a killer”, “a lone male” etc. The community refused to dignify him with any kind of personal mention.

    Of course this kind of thinking would just fly right over your head Obby, you weird sick bitter old twit.

  119. MarkL says:

    I am only going to address one facet of all that has been mentioned here.

    That is the tone of condescending superiority evinced by a small number of posters here – intriguing, as is how quickly the discussion degenerated into the same old ‘blame the gun’ issue.

    Yet, there is hard data regarding this. Those who have used this dreadful event to support their smug elitist view that ‘can only believe that common, law-abiding citizens are seething cauldrons of homicidal rage, ready to kill to avenge any slight to their dignity, eager to seek out and summarily execute the lawless. Only lack of immediate access to a gun restrains them and prevents the blood from flowing in the streets.’

    Yet, normal people do not conform to this bigoted view, as the experience in Florida shows.

    ‘Prior to 1987, the Florida law permitting the issuance of concealed-carry permits was administered at the county level. The law was vague, and, as a result, was subject to conflicting interpretation and political manipulation. Permits were issued principally to security personnel and the privileged few with political connections. Permits were valid only within the county of issuance.

    In 1987, however, Florida enacted a uniform concealed-carry law which mandates that county authorities issue a permit to anyone who satisfies certain objective criteria. The law requires that a permit be issued to any applicant who is a resident, at least twenty-one years of age, has no criminal record, no record of alcohol or drug abuse, no history of mental illness, and provides evidence of having satisfactorily completed a firearms safety course offered by the NRA or other competent instructor. The applicant must provide a set of fingerprints, after which the authorities make a background check. The permit must be issued or denied within ninety days, is valid throughout the state, and must be renewed every three years, which provides authorities a regular means of reevaluating whether the permit holder still qualifies.

    Passage of this legislation was vehemently opposed … The law, they said, would lead to citizens shooting each other over everyday disputes involving fender benders, impolite behavior, and other slights to their dignity. … those seeking passage of the law, were encouraging individuals to act as judge, jury, and executioner in a “Death Wish” society.

    Did the dire predictions come true? Despite the fact that Miami and Dade County have severe problems with the drug trade, the homicide rate fell in Florida following enactment of this law, as it did in Oregon following enactment of similar legislation there. There are, in addition, several documented cases of new permit holders successfully using their weapons to defend themselves. Information from the Florida Department of State shows that, from the beginning of the program in 1987 through June 1993, 160,823 permits have been issued, and only 530, or about 0.33 percent of the applicants, have been denied a permit for failure to satisfy the criteria, indicating that the law is benefitting those whom it was intended to benefit — the law-abiding. Only 16 permits, less than 1/100th of 1 percent, have been revoked due to the post-issuance commission of a crime involving a firearm.

    … Altogether, then, there are thirteen states in which law-abiding citizens who wish to carry arms to defend themselves may do so. While no one appears to have compiled the statistics from all of these jurisdictions, there is certainly an ample data base for those seeking the truth about the trustworthiness of law-abiding citizens who carry firearms.

    Other evidence also suggests that armed citizens are very responsible in using guns to defend themselves. Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck, using surveys and other data, has determined that armed citizens defend their lives or property with firearms against criminals approximately 1 million times a year. In 98 percent of these instances, the citizen merely brandishes the weapon or fires a warning shot. Only in 2 percent of the cases do citizens actually shoot their assailants. In defending themselves with their firearms, armed citizens kill 2,000 to 3,000 criminals each year, three times the number killed by the police. A nationwide study by Kates, the constitutional lawyer and criminologist, found that only 2 percent of civilian shootings involved an innocent person mistakenly identified as a criminal. The “error rate” for the police, however, was 11 percent, over five times as high.

    It is simply not possible to square the numbers above and the experience of Florida with the notions that honest, law-abiding gun owners are borderline psychopaths itching for an excuse to shoot someone, vigilantes eager to seek out and summarily execute the lawless, or incompetent fools incapable of determining when it is proper to use lethal force in defense of their lives. Nor upon reflection should these results seem surprising. Rape, robbery, and attempted murder are not typically actions rife with ambiguity or subtlety, requiring special powers of observation and great book-learning to discern. When a man pulls a knife on a woman and says, “You’re coming with me,” her judgment that a crime is being committed is not likely to be in error. There is little chance that she is going to shoot the wrong person. It is the police, because they are rarely at the scene of the crime when it occurs, who are more likely to find themselves in circumstances where guilt and innocence are not so clear-cut, and in which the probability for mistakes is higher.’
    SOurce: “A Nation of Cowards” published in the Fall, ’93 issue of The Public Interest

    SO the evidence to support the remarkable statements made by some commenters here does made here does not exist.

    MarkL
    Canberra

  120. Katz says:

    Hmmm,

    All those shreds of straw lying about…

    Was it once, perchance, a … strawman?

    MarkL (of Canberra) seems to have done a very thorough job on it.

  121. anthony says:

    I like shooting, the whole zen thing of putting your mind and body in harmony with a precision instrument to produce an immediate and clearly identifiable result. Then cleaning them afterwards while old farts (and fartesses) tell funny stories and pass the booze.

    Have you considered lawn bowls, Nabs? Beer at 70’s prices.

  122. Pavlov's Cat says:

    MarkL, if you think numbers are the only evidence for anything then there’s not really much point in my saying this, but I will anyway as it may strike a chord with other people.

    For me it’s not the laws — as such — so much as the culture they reflect and reinforce. Gun laws in (some of) the US reflect the culture and its attitudes towards guns, and it is the attitudes as much as the laws that not only enable but positively encourage anyone with a psychotic streak to use them as a means of self-expression. Guns as a means of self-expression is a deep, wide seam in the US psyche as expressed in its culture and its taglines, eg ‘the right to bear arms’. Guns are, for example, things you shoot Indians with.

    How does the law reflect that? Well, I’m very sure I’m not the only person here who sat here slack-jawed at the computer reading that people protested ‘But the killer bought his guns legally!’ and then added afterwards ‘In Virginia you can buy one gun a month.’

    To what sort of culture does it occur that one might even need a law like that? And in what sort of culture does one buy one gun a month?

    Oh and what Katz said.

  123. Katz says:

    As far as I know, no woman has ever perpetrated a spree killing. I’d like to be proven wrong on this matter.

    As far as I know, so far all spree killers have been men.

    It seems evident that the only voices on this blog calling for a proliferation of sidearms in the community are male voices. I imagine that this gender imbalance reflects wider community attitudes to sidearms.

    Therefore, the most insistent calls for the proliferation of sidearms come from the group most likely to commit mass murder with those sidearms.

    There may be an argument for allowing women to bear sidearms, for women have demonstrated no propensity at all to indulge in murderous sprees.

    But men, it seems, are infinitely less trustworthy with firearms than women.

    Now, there may be other reasons for allowing men some access to sidearms, but a protection against spree killers isn’t one of them.

    Only women should be armed to protect the community against spree killers.

  124. FDB says:

    Katz – this is like the argument about political power – whoever wants it most is probably the one who should least be trusted with it.

  125. jo says:

    MarkL – your study states – “defending themselves with firearms” – but I would think this actually means “defending their property with firearms” – but I don’t see the point of ‘upping the ante’ in relation to property crime…..it’s bad enough that more young thugs are using weapons in robberies -thankfully in most cases – there isnt any loss of life on either side….but i dont really see the advantage to our society overall, of shop-owners and service station attendants ‘blowing’ away junkies/gang kids etc.

    on the other hand – maybe we should be working overtime on preventing crime….( boring) and as Brian states…. looking at how as a society can properly engage with these loner bersekers… before they lose it…

    But as I mentioned above – most gun fatalities are related to suicide, male suicide in nearly all cases……(still making a freaking mess, even in death), gun violence between family members and gun accidents etc….

    And as for the USA – a large majority of Americans still think wearing a selt-belt impinges on their ‘motoring rights’….so you just can’t argue with this sort of idiocy.

    In the decade up to and including the Port Arthur event, Australia experienced 11 mass shootings, which are defined as taking five or more victims. One hundred people were shot dead and another 52 wounded. In the 10 years since Port Arthur and the new gun laws, not one mass shooting has occurred in Australia.

    But for each Australian killed in a mass shooting in the past 17 years, 80 have died by gunshot in less high-profile events, many of them in family violence. It is here, in the day-to-day tragedy of firearms-related homicide and suicide, that Australia’s new restrictions and, perhaps equally importantly, changing attitudes to guns and gun owners, can most plausibly claim to have had the most effect.

    Even before Port Arthur, gun-related deaths – suicides, homicides and unintentional shootings – were declining slowly. But the rate of decline accelerated markedly after the tragedy. From 1979 to 1996, 11,110 Australians died by gunshot, with an annual average of 617. In the seven years after new gun laws were announced (1997-2003), the yearly average almost halved, to 331.

    With firearm homicide – the gun deaths that attract the most attention – the downward trend has been even more dramatic. In the same two periods, the average annual number of gun homicides fell from 93 to 56. But it was the acceleration in the rate of this decline which proved most remarkable: it fell 70 times faster after the new gun laws, than before.

    Have murderers simply switched methods? While the annual average number of all homicides has increased since June 1996, the rate per 100,000 people has fallen marginally, but can be described as steady. This suggests that partially removing a single type of weapon may not reduce a type of crime committed using many possible means. This could change if Howard moves to tighten controls over handguns, which he has flagged.

    Guns have a very high lethality index (or, as it is sometimes indelicately put, a high completion rate) in both homicides and suicides. Had the gun law reforms not occurred, more Australians contemplating suicide – in particular, impulsive young people – might have more easily found a method of instantly ending their lives.

    Simon Chapman is professor of public health at the University of Sydney and author of Over Our Dead Bodies: Port Arthur and Australia’s Fight for Gun Control. Philip Alpers is adjunct associate professor of public health at the University of Sydney and editor of http://www.gunpolicy.org.

  126. jo says:

    ‘selt-belts’ are serious impingement, compared to seat-belts……..as for all other typos…I plead school holidays!

  127. Christine Keeler says:

    MarkL (of Canberra) seems to have done a very thorough job on it.

    And provided not a single cited reference or link.

  128. Pavlov's Cat says:

    I’ve just had coffee this morning with a friend who hails from Colorado and who teaches creative writing. Not surprisingly this tragic episode has been somewhat on her mind.

    She told me that once back in the US when she was teaching a writing class, ten or fifteen years ago, the subject of guns on campus and of gun ownership in general came up. She asked how many people in the class owned a gun and was gobsmacked when three-quarters of the class put up their hands. (As it were.) She then, with a sinking heart, asked how many of them actually had their guns with them, and discovered that, yes, she was sitting in a classroom with no fewer than four personally owned and toted handguns.

    Way to get a good grade for your villanelle.

    She also told me — and Katz, I’m not sure whether this undermines your theory or bears it out — that many women’s handbags are specifically designed for easy toting of and access to one’s very own little ladylike pearl-handled girlie gun.

  129. Katz says:

    Thanks for that intimate, though brief, peek into ladies’ handbags PC.

    No, I believe your girly gun detail supports my argument. So many US gals, it seems, pack heat quietly, discreetly, non-violently.

    Do any of the fair sex draw attention to the well-armed condition of American womanhood by greasing the entire population of a beauty salon simply because her stylist has made a total hash of her hair?

    No. Of course not. American womanhood has demonstrated that it is fit to accoutre itself with a derringer.

    Perhaps not coincidentally, American womanhood is also far more likely to vote Democrat than their relatively more volatile, trigger-happy menfolk.

    Which raises a sensitive question:

    What has American womanhood done to deserve their menfolk?

  130. Fiasco da Gama says:

    Don’t knock the pearl- or ivory-handled revolver, Katz and PC, and be careful going to grossly into generalisations about the masculinity or femininity of such weapons. I mean, even if you can project gender at all onto a gun, something that, when you really get down to it, is just a highly engineered piece of Nabakov-bait.
    The most famous owner of twin ivory-handled revolvers, don’t forget, was George S. Patton.
    Sorry to go off topic—I’ve nothing at all of consequence to add to the subject of the post.

  131. observa says:

    Can I just say Nabakov, on behalf of weird sick bitter old twits everywhere, I freely admit we can make no sense of senseless deaths whatsoever, closer to home or far away. We’ll leave it to the sensible experts to offer their words of wisdom and consolation. Those tertiary educated counsellors can be there to counsel grandma when she confronts her daughter or daughter in law for the first time. Cheer up mums, it could have been twins, or worse still, the baby killed by a homicidal maniac along with thirty others or so. Take solace in the fact that eminently sensible persons have called for an immediate investigation into the possibility of fencing off the Torrens, etc, etc.

    To get back to the issue at hand, I suppose they’ll need to consult the experts at Beslan or some such, to establish what is the sensible thing to do with Virginia Tech now. Come to think of it is the town of Beslan still standing?

  132. FDB says:

    FdeG, there’s nothing girly about ivory. Shooting an elephhant and cutting off the (somebody say phallic?) bony protrusions to make a (somebody say phallic?) Colt .45 is not in the same gender league as prodding around inside clams (somebody say wha?).

  133. FDB says:

    sorry, FdaG

  134. Christine Keeler says:

    The most famous owner of twin ivory-handled revolvers, don’t forget, was George S. Patton.

    Careful Fiasco. Despite his fearsome reputation he spoke in a notoriously high-pitched voice.

  135. Katz says:

    FdeG,

    Knock the pearl-handled sidearm? Moi?

    On the contrary, I am praising its discreet charm. These pocketbook-sized models appear to have become integrated into the American cultural landscape with less fuss and bother than the ipod.

    Long live the pearl-handled pistol in the pocket-books of sensible American women.

  136. Spiros says:

    “As far as I know, no woman has ever perpetrated a spree killing. I’d like to be proven wrong on this matter.”

    There is at least one.

    On Oct. 30, 1985, Sylvia Seegrist walked into the Springfield Mall in suburban Pennsylvania and started to shoot at random with a .22 calibre semi-automatic rifle. Her bullets hit 10 people, killing 3 of them.

  137. Dr BLT says:

    I am a psychologist and a university instructor who has worked with many violent inmates and parolees with mental health disorders.

    I understand how this could have happened in a disturbed individual who was not being treated, but understanding the possible contributing factors does not lessen the pain felt by all who were directly and indirectly impacted.

    I wanted to let survivors of this massacre understand that we share in your anguish, your grief, and your profound sense of loss over this senseless act. Here is a song I wrote to express our sympathies:

    Virginia’s Tears
    Dr BLT
    words and music by Dr Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr. BLT (c) 2007
    [audio src="http://www.drblt.net/music/VT.mp3" /]

  138. Katz says:

    No discreet pearl-handled piece for Sylvia Seegrist, the sole recorded female spree killer.

    Sylvia Seegrist toted an assault rifle around a mall. Apparently, the sight of a young woman taking a bead on shoppers was so incongruous to those who witnessed it, at first they believed that it was some bizarre stunt. This was despite the fact that she was dressed in military fatigues.

    There are many issues related to gender image that can been teased out of Sylvia Seegrist’s slow-motion rampage.

  139. ruth adkins says:

    I JUST WANT TO EXPRESS MY SYMPATHY TO THE FACULTY AND ALL OF THE STUDENTS AT VIRGINIA TECH. I CANNOT EVEN IMAGINE THE PAIN EACH OF YOU IS EXPERIENCING. MY THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS OF WITH EACH OF YOU. MAY YOU FEEL THESE AS YOU ENTER THESE DIFFICULT DAYS OF
    LIVING WITH THE LOSS OF THOSE PRECIOUS PEOPLE THAT DIED. GOD BLESS YOU. RUTHIE ADKINS

  140. Anna Winter says:

    Don’t forget Brenda Ann Spencer, who inspired the Boomtown Rats’ most famous song…

  141. Graham Bell says:

    Everyone:
    Made a lengthy comment over at Catallaxy [after post #400] asking why, reasonably soon after the Port Arthur massacre and well before the Bali bombings, the federal government neglected to launch a public safety campaign to teash the public how best to survive if/when confronted by a terrorist attack or by armed offender.

    Litigation. anyone? Class Action against the Commonwealth Of Australia? Should be a hands-down winner.

  142. Dr BLT says:

    Here’s the second of 2 VT tribute songs just released to college radio stations:

    Today, In Virginia
    Dr BLT’s One Man “Banned”
    Words and music by Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr. BLT Dr BLT ©2007
    [audio src="http://www.drblt.net/music/TinV.mp3" /]

    Bruce L. Thiessen, Ph.D, aka Dr BLT
    University Instructor
    Singer/songwriter/psychologist

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