Right-Wing Action Heroes
First of all, let me offer my most heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of everyone killed or injured at Virginia Tech yesterday, and all my well wishes and positive thoughts for the wounded and everyone else who had to suffer through the madness, fear and chaos. And I apologize in advance for the wingnut-bashing, but this is really just appalling and insane, and if I don't say something about it now, I probably never will.
Here's Instapundit's immediate reaction to the shootings (all emphasis added):
These things do seem to take place in locations where it's not legal for people with carry permits to carry guns, though, and I believe that's the case where the Virginia Tech campus is concerned. I certainly wish that someone had been in a position to shoot this guy at the outset.
…"A bill that would have given college students and employees the right to carry handguns on campus died with nary a shot being fired in the General Assembly." That's unfortunate. Had the bill passed, things might have turned out differently, though we'll never know now.
Would the number of students shot at Virginia Tech today have been lower if student there were allowed to take a training class, get a permit, and carry a concealed weapon on campus? There is of course not way to be sure. I do think it is obvious that an armed student or faculty member could have at least made taking their lives a far more difficult.
Andrew's Dad, noting a recent editorial from Va. Tech's university relations vice president arguing against allowing students to carry in self-defense on campus, blogs:
Just imagine if students were armed. We no longer need to imag[in]e what will happen when they are not armed.
Reader Kevin e-mails: "Imagine if sensible CCW laws allowed people to defend themselves, this tragedy could have been avoided."
Yes, that's right – the only solution to gun violence is… more people walking around with guns.
The right wing doesn't even bother to stake out a status quo argument (as the White House did) like "the laws we have are fine, they just need to be enforced" (as if "shouldn't have" is somehow just as good as "couldn't" or "didn't"). No, they go all the way over into Crazyland and argue that there aren't enough students walking around with guns. As if your average college kid with a gun is going to make good decisions when everyone's panicky and running around and no-one knows what's going on.
More likely they'd be so amped up with fear and adrenaline and macho that they'd get themselves killed trying to be the hero, or shoot some innocent bystander because they "thought he had a gun," or because he fit some rumored description of the shooter, or maybe because he was another wannabe hero shooting at an innocent bystander. Tragedy Plus Guns does not actually equal Less Tragedy. (Also, would right wing bloggers be saying the same thing about Columbine? Because the only thing better than college students with guns would be high school students with guns.)
This is a window into the right wing's juvenile fantasy world, where they like to imagine themselves in the role of the Courageous American Hero who saves the day. But, of course that would be dangerous, so the next best thing is to try to create the conditions for such heroism, so that they may bask in its reflected glory (See Also: How We Got Into Operation Iraqi Fuckup). Enabling the hero is almost as good as being the hero, and a lot safer!
Spirit of Self-Defense [John Derbyshire]
As NRO's designated chickenhawk, let me be the one to ask: Where was the spirit of self-defense here? Setting aside the ludicrous campus ban on licensed conceals, why didn't anyone rush the guy? It's not like this was Rambo, hosing the place down with automatic weapons. He had two handguns for goodness' sake—one of them reportedly a .22.
At the very least, count the shots and jump him reloading or changing hands. Better yet, just jump him. Handguns aren't very accurate, even at close range. I shoot mine all the time at the range, and I still can't hit squat. I doubt this guy was any better than I am. And even if hit, a .22 needs to find something important to do real damage—your chances aren't bad.
Yes, yes, I know it's easy to say these things: but didn't the heroes of Flight 93 teach us anything? As the cliche goes—and like most cliches. It's true—none of us knows what he'd do in a dire situation like that. I hope, however, that if I thought I was going to die anyway, I'd at least take a run at the guy.
They really do think like that, and they get all pissy when reality inevitably lets them down.