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Archive for April 18th, 2007

Seed Newsvine

Writing for the Associated Press (as reported by Yahoo News), Calvin Woodward reports:

Gun control has been treated with a mix of silence and discomfort in the presidential campaign, a stance that may become insupportable once the nation finds its voice in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech mass murder…

Enter the massacre at Blacksburg, Va., an attack so horrific it froze the presidential campaign in place. Candidates called off events and expressed only sorrow, not opinion, in the first hours.

Advocates of any stripe raised their gun agenda at their peril.

“I think that people who want to take this within 24 hours of the event and make it their political hobby horse to ride … I’ve got nothing but loathing for them,” Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine said. “To those who want to try to make this into some little crusade, I say take that elsewhere.”

But the bloodiest shooting rampage in modern U.S. history, with 33 dead, is certain to set off a debate that those who would be president can hardly sit out in the days and weeks ahead.

Read the whole article here. Of course I want to ask Virginia Gov. Kane where else would one take this “little” crusade?

Just a bit more to think about. As the world changes around us, where terror is a reality even in America, and not just from the vilified other coming in the guise of the Muslim fundamentalist…I mean, think of Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombings, the Columbine High School massacre, and now Virginia Tech…just perhaps it is time to think about the fact that the widespread proliferation of guns in our society has an overall negative effect on the security of our nation. Now that shouldn’t be too hard a thought to wrap one’s brains around.

“I think when a guy walks in and shoots 32 people it’s going to cause there to be a lot of policy debate,”President Bush said. “Now is not the time to do the debate until we’re actually certain about what happened and after we help people get over their grieving.”

If now is not the time for policy debate, Mr. President, then when? You claim it begins when people get over their grieving. Grieving is for the families of the dead, Mr. President, not for the rest of us. For the rest of us there is a significantly different set of emotions–ANGER, SHOCK, DISBELIEF, DISMAY–anything other than grief. It is only now, because that is all that is, that the debates can occur. Don’t run away from this one too, Mr. President.

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Seed Newsvine

Reporting for Reuters, Andrea Hopkins writes:

By all accounts, the prayers started even before the gunshots stopped at Virginia Tech university, and the pleas to God from grief-stricken survivors of the massacre have continued ever since.

“God cares about Virginia Tech,” said Megan Martin, 24, joining about a dozen fellow students in a traveling prayer vigil that rambled across the sprawling campus a day after the worst U.S. shooting spree in modern history.

Carrying placards reading: “Jesus loves you,” “God knows and He cares,” and “Can we pray with you?” the small knot of students worked their way through the university grounds in Blacksburg, a Bible Belt town in the mountains of southwest Virginia.

I suppose turning to God(s) cannot do any serious harm to the individual that does the turning. The evidence, however, does not justify such a move. “God cares about Virginia Tech,” said Megan Martin, is quoted in the article. Is this God so cruel that he (she, it) only cares after the fact? Is this God(s) so indifferent that he (she, it) only takes an interest after the dastardly deed has been accomplished? God knows and He cares, is another after the fact fantasy that may serve to salve heightened emotions but does not address the fundamental issue–was this God who cares so much simply on vacation when Cho Seung-Hui decided to engage on a shooting rampage on the VT campus? Does the evidence point to a God(s) who cares, who knows? I think not. What the evidence points to is a random series of events that occur every so often because Americans are willing to sacrifice security for the right to bear arms for any purpose whatsoever. The evidence does not point to a loving God(s) but, rather, to a heightened probability that because guns are so readily available in the United States tragic events such as the VT shootings are more likely than not to occur.

While turning to God(s) is a defensive move in cases of unthinkable tragedy for many people, it seems to me that it is simply a misplaced use of human energy. Telling one’s self that God(s) really care, while that might have a temporary calming effect, does nothing to solve the problem that lies at the root of the VT shootings. Far more productive an approach is to focus the anger and frustration one feels in moments of unspeakable tragedy into efforts to place meaningful regulation on the ownership of weapons that have no other use than to cause permanent harm to those to whom the guns are directed. Gun nuts that demand no regulation of weapons spouting rights granted under the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States (A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed,) must ask: to what militia did Cho Seung-Hui belong when he began his rampage? Why was Cho Seung-Hui permitted to purchase and own guns? Why do we put up with this cowboy mentality? Is life really imitating the wild west shootout of the movies?

Rather than turning to God(s) how about turning to Congress and demanding that your lawmakers do something to prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again. If you don’t then, it seems to me, that events like the VT shootings will surely occur over and over, again and again. One Italian journalist wrote that the VT shootings are as American as apple pie. It this the image America and Americans portray to the world? Is this the image we want to portray? It is time to stop the madness.

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