31 Dead In University Shootings

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Postby barfle » Wed Apr 18, 2007 6:16 pm

I have my political views and my personal views on this tragedy that has affected many of my colleagues at the US Patent Office. Many of my coworkers are grads of Virginia Tech, and several of them have children enrolled there. So far I haven't heard of anyone close to me being directly affected by the shootings, although I'm sure once it happens the news will spread rapidly.

I recall a bumper sticker from the sixties that read When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. This certainly appears to be the case at Virginia Tech this week.

I do find it strange that we won't allow someone who has not demonstrated at least minimal competence to operate a motor vehicle in every state of the union, but there is no proficiency exam required for the purchase of a firearm. Mind you, I'm not saying anyone except the demonstrably inept (which could reasonably include mental profiling) be prevented from owning a gun. And I'm also not saying that the government should be the administrator of those evaluations.
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Postby dai bread » Wed Apr 18, 2007 6:31 pm

Americans need to take a long hard look at their culture. Other countries, notably Switzerland and Israel, have guns everywhere, but nobody goes on a rampage.

GB & Australia have been referred to as having "gun bans", but they haven't, and never have had. They do have restrictions, quite tough ones, on who can own a handgun, but shotguns are quite common, and, in Oz, so are rifles. Both are common here, too. Hunting and duck-shooting are popular sports. Neither the British, the Aussies nor we, go on rampages like those in America over the last decade or so. I'm not familiar with Canada, but I haven't heard of any problems there either. There are plenty of backwoods areas in Canada, and I suspect plenty of Canadians have rifles & shotguns. Would someone care to comment on Mexico?

The problem lies in the culture somewhere. Respect for one's fellow citizens; respect for life perhaps.
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Postby barfle » Wed Apr 18, 2007 6:42 pm

dai bread wrote:Americans need to take a long hard look at their culture.

I doubt if it's a cultural thing. The VA Tech shooter wasn't an American citizen - he was here on a student visa.

As Haggis noted, the people who do these deeds don't get out alive, either. That makes it very difficult to perform a psych analysis on them. Personally, I'm not hoping for an example where we do get to figure out what made a rampager go off, because that would require another rampage.
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Postby Shapley » Wed Apr 18, 2007 7:14 pm

I doubt if it's a cultural thing. The VA Tech shooter wasn't an American citizen - he was here on a student visa.


Actually, that's not true. His family emigrated here when he was eight years old, so he's been here long enough. He had a green card.
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Postby analog » Thu Apr 19, 2007 5:08 am

barfle wrote:I...... Mind you, I'm not saying anyone except the demonstrably inept (which could reasonably include mental profiling) be prevented from owning a gun. And I'm also not saying that the government should be the administrator of those evaluations.


The existing computerized "Instant Background Check" system would've worked if Cho had a significant rapsheet or domestic violence complaints.

Cho passed his instant background check. Yet his background included that trip to the mental hospital and observations of his bizarre ideations and behavior by school professionals.

A mechanism to inform the existing instant background check system about such cases would seem an ounce of prevention. With reasonable checks and balances it could be kept within the intent of 2nd amendment.

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Postby Nicole Marie » Thu Apr 19, 2007 7:09 am

Analog is right he passed the quick background check but there are laws against giving guns to people with mental health issues. If a more in depth check was done I don't think he would have been issued the guns.

I'm not for everyone and their mother owning a gun. Yes citizens have the right but we need to be tougher on how and who gets a gun. Those that are lawful citizens will not mind waiting the extra time for a complete background check to be done on them.
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Postby Shapley » Thu Apr 19, 2007 8:05 am

The instant check system works quite well. Those who meet exclusionary criteria have their names and identifying information sent to a central database. When a citizen attempts to buy a firearm, their name is checked against this database. If there is a match, they cannot buy the firearms. For privacy reasons, they do not include the reason they are on the list, only that they are excluded (very much like the 'no fly list').

It is the responsibility of judges and medical health professionals to keep the database current. Those convicted of crimes and those determined to be mentally unfit have to be reported to the database in a timely manner for the system to work. It has been nearly two years since he was in the facility, it is unreasonable to believe that a delay of a few days would have resulted in his name being put into the database.
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Postby Selma in Sandy Eggo » Thu Apr 19, 2007 9:38 am

My junior year in high school was the year of the Watts riots. To the best of my knowledge, all the male teachers had a rifle or a shotgun in their classroom, and several of the female teachers did, too. The ROTC boys (they used to be all boys) were required to wear a sidearm while at school, and to carry ammunition. Students over 18, which was maybe half the senior class and a few of the junior class, who owned and had permits to carry a firearm, were allowed to carry them on campus.

There were no incidents.
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Postby Catmando » Thu Apr 19, 2007 10:28 am

The neutrality of this topic is disputable. It is from Wikipedia.

It talks about the Canadian crime rate compared to the United States, and the comparative rate of firearms used in homicides.

Crime in Canada and some comparision to other countries

In summary, here are the numbers:

1) The USA has 2.5 times the murder rate per capita than Canada.

2) Approx. 70% of the murders committed in the USA involve firearms, compared to about 30% of the murders in Canada involving firearms.

I'm not at all validating the accuracy of this article, but if they are indeed relatively accurate, then it tends to underline the fact that more guns cause more deaths.
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Postby Haggis@wk » Thu Apr 19, 2007 11:07 am

Some stats to consider


Murder with firearms per capita



all murders per capita

Heck, Papua New Guinea, Costa Rica and the Seychelles are more dangerous than the U.S.


And as for perceived safety walking in the dark the U.S. is only second to Sweden

perception of safety walking in the dark

I certainly feel safer walking in the dark here than many other countries I’ve been in, notably England and Germany.

Note that the figures are based on a survey conducted in the late 90’s to 2000. I wonder how the “safety” number would look today in France, Germany, et al?
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Postby Haggis@wk » Thu Apr 19, 2007 11:28 am

TN moves to allow guns in public buildings

NASHVILLE — In a surprise move, a House panel voted today to repeal a state law that forbids the carrying of handguns on property and buildings owned by state, county and city governments — including parks and playgrounds.

"I think the recent Virginia disaster — or catastrophe or nightmare or whatever you want to call it — has woken up a lot of people to the need for having guns available to law-abiding citizens," said Rep. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains. "I hope that is what this vote reflects."



I think this represent progress and recognition that evil is random and unpreventable.

Doing away with restriction on law abiding citizens who have already demonstrated to the state’s governments satisfaction that they are responsible enough to carry weapon is refreshing and a nod to reality
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Postby piqaboo » Thu Apr 19, 2007 12:02 pm

I'm becoming more in favor, slowly, of relatively free access to guns.
My worry about them is that too many small fry find them. Perhaps if they were out in the open (albeit high on the wall), it would be easier to teach the small fry not to touch them. Finding something unknown and hidden in a drawer kind of encourages dangerous experimenting by a small person.
(Ok, the small person may have been taught not to open drawers without permission, but we all know how high the obedience rate is in 2-4 yr olds).

However, Shapley, your solution doesnt seem responsive to your noting of warning signs. Most of those shot dont seem to have been classmates, so how would they know to pack in class? I ask again, what reaction did you want to the warning behaviours of this person?
Shapley wrote:Meanwhile, it seems this attack was not total surprise to those who knew the killer. Of what use are all these warning signs to people who can't, or won't read them?


Shapley wrote:The same thing that was proposed a year ago - allow the people the arm themselves against the threat such people pose


I think some of the incentive is to 'go out in a blaze of ' if not glory, publicity. I've heard that SOBs name far too often, and also the Columbine kids names again, this week. I think if we kept most of the news reports free of the perpetrators names, it wouldnt solve the problem, but it would remove one incentive - recognition. One report each - so and so was determined to be the killer, and all subsequent to refer to them as the VT killer, and not give their name. This couldnt be legistlated, but it could be voluntarily adopted by the news media. They routinely hide the names of rape victims, even when the victim requests to be named*, so its not that they can not do this.

*We had a lady here in San Diego determine that hiding her name implied what had happened was shameful on her part, and so she asked the paper to use her name, just as they would for the victim of a mugging, robbery or other crime. She had to sue em to get em to do so.
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Postby Catmando » Thu Apr 19, 2007 12:45 pm

Ok. Hypothetical situation........

University students are allowed to carry a handgun on campus. What are the risks that the "law abiding" student uses the gun incorrectly or accidentally?

What if a student is suspicious and perceives another student to be a threat to the school, and that the student may "go off" at any moment. Can the student "take him/her out", as a prevention?
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Postby Shapley » Thu Apr 19, 2007 12:58 pm

University students are allowed to carry a handgun on campus. What are the risks that the "law abiding" student uses the gun incorrectly or accidentally?


Pretty low, actually, based on the lack of occurances in areas where it is allowed.

FWIW, few students would be qualified. Many states have a required age of 21 to obtain a pistol permit, and they aren't likely to carry a long arm. Few of those who qualify to carry them will, based on the percentage of the general population that owns/carries firearms. Also, most states require the completion of a firearms safety course before a hangun or concealed carry permit can be issued.

In Gainesville, Florida, when a serial rapist was preying on women on campus, the police response to was encourage women to carry firearms.

What if a student is suspicious and perceives another student to be a threat to the school, and that the student may "go off" at any moment. Can the student "take him/her out", as a prevention?


No. I've never suggested that armed people on college would have prevented the shooting, but I have suggested that it would have significantly reduced the death toll. The shooter could have stopped after the first killings at the dorm, or stopped after the first shots fired at the hall of engineering. However, the greater likelihood is that he would never have attempting the second shooting, knowing the potential outcome.

Haggis' point is quite valid. Why do you think these shootings are becoming more prevalent at government facilities and schools? The logical answer is that that is where the greatest chance of encountering a large number of unarmed people exists. If you want to kill a lot of people, it helps if they can't shoot back.

V/R
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Postby Haggis@wk » Thu Apr 19, 2007 1:36 pm

Catmando wrote:Ok. Hypothetical situation........

University students are allowed to carry a handgun on campus. What are the risks that the "law abiding" student uses the gun incorrectly or accidentally?

What if a student is suspicious and perceives another student to be a threat to the school, and that the student may "go off" at any moment. Can the student "take him/her out", as a prevention?


Short answer? I don't know. I suspect had Mr. Cho had gone through the required process to get a conceal carry permit he might have raised some flags.

Look, states routinely issue and withdraw licenses everyday (not as many as you'd suspect) I don't know what state you live in but if you lived in Texas, for instance, the chances you would know who is armed around you at any given time is almost zero. I guarantee the only way you'd know I'm armed is if you or someone else engaged in behavior I would consider threatening. Granted, I was a gun-carrying investigator for almost 30 years so maybe I'm rare.

I will tell you that other than to maintain my proficiency I don't visit the range as often as those who consider shooting to be a sport. I, and I suspect most former and active cops, consider the firearm to be a tool to ensure I, my family and anyone around me remain safe from evil such as this.

I don't know how long Utah's allowed weapons on campus but I'm not aware of any problems because of it.

Israel's teachers and students have been packing heat for decades without any serious problems that I've heard.

Let's grant your premise, Cho had a concealed carry permit and went nuts. How is that any different from what happened? He still went nuts and if one or two other were also legally carrying I have to hope that they would have responded. I damn sure would have if only to protect myself.

There's a reason that possession of firearms is the second Amendment, second only to the Right of Free Speech; the Founding Father considered the right to self defense to be almost as important as the freedom to speak your mind.

I believe Americans are unique in their ability to assess a threat and figure out an appropriate response; look at flight 93.

The terrorist had our country cowed for about 43 minutes before the passengers on that flight assessed the threat and decided that action was preferable to inaction.

Did they succeed? I think we have to assume that at least a few more people than the passengers would have died somewhere else if they had chosen not to act.

Americans adapted to a new paradigm and developed what they felt was justifiable action.

Do you truely think that any group of passengers flying anywhere in the U.S. today is going to behave in the old way after 9/11? That they are going to meekly await the hijackers orders? I think in the few incidents since then that answer is clearly, no.

It is going to be damn hard to hijack an airplane successfully in the U.S. today not because of sky marshals but because passengers aren't going to remain passive.

That should be no different on college and schools campuses and would have been no different except the PC crowd ignored the frequent examples of having armed citizens able to resist evil and tried to maintained the status quo.

I hope this horrible event will be sufficient to establish a new paradigm on our campuses the same way it has changed our idea about our security flying in the U.S.

[rant]
Look at how perverted the legal system is Britain has become. You can be prosecuted if you injure a home invader in your home. Consider that for a moment. The common law system that defined burglary as “the breaking and entering of a dwelling house of another at night with the intent to commit a felony, therein” and held that a mans's home was his castle now says. “Sorry, buy more locks and hide”

That didn’t happen over night but it has happened because generations of Liberal government have taken the most basic human right away from its citizens; the right to defend yourself.

Britain has no Constitution for a number of reasons but one was that it was always assumed that everyone has the right to protect themselves. That has been totally perverted.

So, if you think I and people who fight to keep the right to “bear arms” are kooks and conspiracy freaks who thinks the Government is out to take our guns away just consider that the phrase “A man’s home is his castle” and the extension that a man has the right to protect his castle originated in the same country that now locks up its citizens who try to do that.

My skin crawls at the very thought that I might be rendered defenseless to protect my family or the mere act of doing so can get me locked up.

You never answered my question, would you put that “This is a gun free home” sign in your yard?

Britain has. [/rant]

Another question. Who would you feel more comfortable with, 10 -15 unknown strangers who have leaped through the hoops to get a concealed weapons permit or 1 Cho?
Last edited by Haggis@wk on Thu Apr 19, 2007 1:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby piqaboo » Thu Apr 19, 2007 1:47 pm

Shaggishpley wrote: Why do you think these shootings are becoming more prevalent at government facilities and schools? The logical answer is that that is where the greatest chance of encountering a large number of unarmed people exists. If you want to kill a lot of people, it helps if they can't shoot back.


Maybe, or maybe because those are two institutions where one can not remove the strange. Very hard to fire a gov't employee, very hard to kick someone out of school if their grades are good. Very easy to fire someone from most corporations (tho these shootings take place in them also). Why go to the Mall to shoot folks? Most of them are not closely enough associated with the shooter (say by a group-affiliation) to engender such a response.

I suspect both come in to play. The schools and gov't agencies concentrate the issues, and are also relatively unprotected.
And then there's the notoriety. And then there are some cases of outright insanity. Im thinking the girl who shot up the school across from her house fell in that category.

My question remains unanswered, Shapley. how do you think the right to carry is a response to all the warning signs you said people didnt react to ? (You should go up and read my original post with the question, to ensure context). Am curious. Have worked with a few scary ones in the past. Went to school with one. At least 2 of them would not surprise me if they ended up in the news, due to dramatic suicide with or without involving others.
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Postby Schmeelkie » Thu Apr 19, 2007 2:00 pm

Couple of points:
1 - you don't necessarily need a gun to take out the attacker. At Penn State in the mid-90's we had a sniper - hit 3 students (I think only one died). She was taken out of action by a student who basically tackled her and got the gun away.

2 - Here I've got some real expertise as two of the grants I work on are suicide prevention studies and am currently writing an extension to one expanding prevention activities to parents and students. Anyway, my 2 sub points are this: a-at least in teens, in 80% of suicide fatalities family or friends noted warning signs but didn't tell an adult about it.
b - The two training programs we use - QPR http://www.qprinstitute.com/ and Sources of Strength http://www.ndsuicideprevention.org/prevention.htm & http://www.ndsuicideprevention.org/sos_gatekeeper_curriculum_2006.doc instruct gatekeepers (people in a position to recognize a suicidal person) to not stop until they have gotten some kind of help for the suicidal person - have them talk to a counselor, call a hotline, etc. Not that I'm saying the VT prof gave up, but she could have found another way to get him help, notified his parents, etc. You can't depend on someone else seeing it and doing something about it.

definately agree that mental health info should be linked to being able to own a firearm. It always seems to be a 'crazy' person who does something like this - we need better connection between mental health and law enforcement. Not that all people with mental health issues are criminal, just that criminals of this sort are more likely to have mental health issues.
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Postby Selma in Sandy Eggo » Thu Apr 19, 2007 2:17 pm

For many folks, the decision to carry a personal firearm is like the decision to carry tools, a rope, and a blanket in the trunk of the car: it's merely a prudent and practical thing to do. There's no intent to use any of this stuff, on any given day, for any particular purpose. It's there because if you need it and don't have it, you're way worse off than if you have it and don't need it.

I'm in philosophical favor of an armed and responsible citizenry. From a practical point of view, I'm strongly in favor of safety classes and supervised range training. An incompetent shooter is as scary as an incompetent driver.

For parents, the decision to have firearms in the house requires a lot of thought and planning to keep the kids from fooling with the guns. As Piq noted, 2- to 4-year-olds aren't big on obedience. And they don't understand consequences. For my money, the 9- to 14-year-olds are even scarier: they think they can do anything, they worry about nothing, and they think they're immortal. :shudder: If you have kids this age, seriously consider what you're doing and consult a suitably pessimistic cop.
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Postby Shapley » Thu Apr 19, 2007 2:18 pm

Piq,

I think I answered your question the best I could when I said this:

I haven't advocated a specific course of action based on these warning signs, I was just pointing out that they reportedly existed. Teachers made an effort to find out, counselors have seen him, as have the police. Still, 32 people are dead along his path to suicide. I can't say the signs were all ignored, but clearly the warnings weren't sufficient for eonugh people to act to prevent or limit the destruction he wrought. Perhaps these warning signs were part of the move behind the legisilation that was defeated in 2006, which sought to allow law-abiding citizens to carry firearms on campus. I have no idea.


The best answer is that I have no answer. I'm commenting on the news reports which always follow these type of acts, which tell us that there were 'warning signs'. Were there? I can't say. To me, a warning sign is a bright yellow square that specifically says 'dangerous curve ahead', 'slippery when wet', or 'S-curve'. It is a specific indication advising us of a known condition that exists. In this case, we are being told that there were 'warning signs', but apparently few, if any, people could correctly read them. He was a loner - if this is a sign does that mean that all loners will end up as mass-murders? He rarely spoke. Does this make all quiet people suspects? He spent 'creepy' e-mails and 'spooky' phone calls. This, perhaps, has some merit, but does it necessarily indicate the presence of a future mass-murderer? We are told there were 'warning signs'. After the Colombine massacre, we were also told there were 'warning signs'. After 9/11, we were told there were 'warning signs'. If there really are 'warning signs' posted so clearly before all of these events, shouldn't we be teaching people to read them? Shouldn't we have done so long ago?

I would call these 'clues', not warning signs. But that's just my Humble opinion.

V/R
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Postby Catmando » Thu Apr 19, 2007 2:30 pm

Shaperone wrote:We are told there were 'warning signs'. After the Colombine massacre, we were also told there were 'warning signs'. After 9/11, we were told there were 'warning signs'. If there really are 'warning signs' posted so clearly before all of these events, shouldn't we be teaching people to read them? Shouldn't we have done so long ago?

I would call these 'clues', not warning signs. But that's just my Humble opinion.

V/R
Shapley


I agree Shap. Educating people on reading and detecting these 'warning signs' and telling a couselling or police officer about them is a start. But the problem is so many of these "warning signs" are so subtle "soft clues".

What is considered "behavior" that falls in the "sound the red alarm" category?

Haggis - I don't think anyone (even in Canada) would advertise that their home is a "gun free home". Just like most peole don't advertise that they have a "gun infested home". Or maybe people do that? I don't know. I've only seen "BEWARE OF GUARD DOG" warning signs posted on home entrances and fence posts.
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