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Panel On Virginia Tech Murders Pushes Anti-Gun Agenda

Friday, August 31, 2007

Yesterday, the “Virginia Tech Review Panel” released its report on April’s horrific mass murder on campus.  Most media attention has rightly focused on failures of communication. These include failures to share information between university officials, mental health counselors, campus police, and killer Seung Hui Cho’s parents, as well as the university’s failure to promptly notify students, faculty and staff promptly about the first two shootings on campus.  Yet while the panel effectively reviewed those issues, it used its chapter on “Gun Purchase and Campus Policies” to promote an anti-gun agenda that has no relationship to this spring’s tragedy.  Many of its findings and recommendations are contradictory; none would have had an effect on Cho’s rampage.   

For example: 

  • The panel claims it “knows of no case in which a shooter in campus homicides has been shot or scared off by a student or faculty member with a weapon.”  The panel ignores the appendix to its own report, which mentions the 2002 incident at Appalachian School of Law in nearby Grundy, Va., where three students confronted and physically subdued a fellow student who had killed three people.  The appendix, like most media reports at the time, doesn’t mention two of the three students who stopped the attack were armed.

  • The report claims people carrying guns pose a high risk of accidental shootings and suicides, or of misbehavior due to bad temper, intoxication, or other abuse.  But the panel ignores 20 years of overwhelming data on law-abiding citizens who carry firearms in Right-to-Carry states.  Instead, it supports its argument by noting that off-duty police officers are arrested each year for assault.  Would the panel suggest disarming the police?

  • The panel calls for new restrictions on firearm sales, including those at gun shows—though the panel itself describes how Cho received his guns in an over-the-counter transaction at a gun store.

  • The panel discusses the now expired federal limit on magazine capacity.  It concludes “that 10-round magazines that were legal [under the 1994-2004 ban] would have not [sic] made much difference in the incident. Even pistols with rapid loaders [sic] could have been about as deadly in this situation.”  But just a page later, the panel contradicts itself, concluding that “[h]aving the ammunition in large capacity magazines facilitated [Cho’s] killing spree.”  
Rather than calling for new restrictions on law-abiding gun owners, the report should have focused its efforts on real solutions to preventing crime.
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