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A Well-Regulated Constabulary Militia?

MSNBC story:

Brent Tenney says he feels pretty safe when he goes to class at the University of Utah, but he takes no chances. He brings a loaded 9 mm semiautomatic with him every day.

"It's not that I run around scared all day long, but if something happens to me, I do want to be prepared," said the 24-year-old business major, who has a concealed-weapons permit and takes the handgun everywhere but church.

It's not exactly "liberal" of me, but I don't think this is a bad thing. Tragedies such as Columbine and Virginia Tech have shown that the police are shy about walking into situations where demented gunmen are wreaking chaos, and they aren't on every darkened street corner where you might encounter a mugger either.

Besides that, it says in the Bill of Rights that citizens have a right to firearms. It seems like the point of contention is centered around the part about "a well-regulated militia." Here's my take on all this...

I support people exercising their constitutional rights. I don't want the government interfering with religion, pro or con. I don't want the government spying on us without a warrant. I don't want the government holding people endlessly without trial or charges -- even if they are foreigners. And I don't want laws saying that there are places where, for some reason, the second amendment doesn't apply.

Some of my friends on the right have made the point that there's no better target for an armed madman that somewhere like the Virginia Tech campus, which is a place where guns are prohibited except in the hands of the police. I'm not saying that's why Cho did what he did -- I blame his mental illness and those who didn't follow through on his obvious need for treatment -- but when he started shooting, the people who respect the law found themselves helpless in the face of his attack.

I believe that if a person has no criminal record, shows himself to be competent in his knowledge of gun safety, when it is and is not proper to use a firearm, and if he shows that he can handle his weapon with an appropriate degree of skill, there is simply no rational reason not to allow him to be armed. Anything less is saying that we're just as disrespectful toward the US constitution as Bush is.

Make no mistake. I don't want a gun in the hands of those who are unstable, uneducated on the subject or unskilled in the use of a weapon. I don't want people to buy a gun on a whim, and just drop it into their purse with no training and no experience whatsoever. People like these could easily make a bad situation worse by firing randomly, or when it wasn't necessary.

But I don't want a police state with a cop on every corner in the name of "security," and I don't want any more cases where a lunatic with an illegal gun can casually walk from one room to the next, firing off over one hundred shots in three different classrooms and nobody could do a thing about it.

Laws don't stop those who have no respect for the law. The law is supposed to work for the benefit of the people. And for those reasons, I can think of no good reason why we should not allow firearms in the hand of those who have earned them.

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Comments (7)

"And for those reasons, I can think of no good reason why we should not allow firearms in the hand of those who have earned them."

"Earned them" is the operative term. Certainly one prolem with allowing students to carry guns on campuses is that the bar is so damned low with respect to "earning them", as has been so dramatically illustrated by Cho.

Cho legally purchased the guns, but he illegally carried them on campus. Making it legal for Cho to carry his guns on campus isn't the answer.

Taking away the ability of law enforcement to arrest Cho if he had been stopped on his way across campus that morning and found to be carrying a gun is not the answer.

"I believe that if a person has no criminal record, shows himself to be competent in his knowledge of gun safety, when it is and is not proper to use a firearm, and if he shows that he can handle his weapon with an appropriate degree of skill, there is simply no rational reason not to allow him to be armed."

One rational reason is that Cho could have easily cleared all of those hurdles, and under your proposal you would have legally armed a madman.

Paul Hamilton:

Lee, that is not correct. Under existing law, a person who has been found to be mentally-unstable cannot purchase a firearm legally. Of course with no means to check the records properly, Cho's purchase fell straight through the cracks, but that was not a legal purchase.

And I realize that this is a hot-button issue. The left holds up armed lunatics and the right holds up armed heroes. On this issue, as with most others, I'm libertarian. Most people are not criminals. A licensing procedure, which is what I'm talking about here, along with standardized training and testing procedures would allow time for thorough background checks of things like a person's criminal and mental histories and would stop people like Cho from getting a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
Nothing is going to stop someone who is determined to get a gun and use it. And that is why I believe it's appropriate -- and necessary -- for the good guys to be a deterrent to the bad guys.


One of the biggest problems with a disarmed populace is that you have to rely on the police to stop gun-wielding felons.

I've known a lot of cops over the years, and the one thing I can guarantee is that the average cop is a below-average shot with his duty weapon. Firearms training is expensive, and most cities and counties don't budget very much for range time.

I've been on firearms ranges with cops who would have a severe problem just hitting a guy ten feet away, much less 25 yards.

On the other hand, the people who bothered to go through concealed-weapons classes tend to be a lot more involved in accuracy and proficiency with their pistols, and spend actual time practicing with them out of their own pockets.

In a defensive situation, the defending shooter has a big advantage. If a CCW holder were in one of those VT classrooms with a pistol, Cho would have had to enter the room, pick the one guy with a gun out of the crowd, and hit with one or more aimed shots, while all the defender would have to do would be to put a handful of rounds into a predetermined area - the door to the room.

"Under existing law, a person who has been found to be mentally-unstable cannot purchase a firearm legally."

Please correct me if I'm wrong, by my understanding is that Cho cleared the "mentally unstable" hurdle (or would have cleard if anyone had checked) because he was referred to a mental health facility, and not committed.

Regardless, (and I'm not trying to brush away your argument - it's strong one), there are many students walking around campuses who are mentally unstable, and you won't know they are unstable until they unload a 9mm clip into your son or daughter.

MODESTO, Calif. - John was losing weight. He was getting sick often. Friends noticed he was more withdrawn, and didn't like doing the same fun things anymore. His temper was shorter than usual. John is exhibiting five warning signs of depression, according to local college mental health counselors.

Depression and anxiety are slowly but steadily increasing among the college student population. Counselors say the trend is due to better diagnoses and less stigma surrounding the conditions.

The rigors and demands placed on college students can create a pressure-cooker situation. Remember also that college students are for the most part young, and mental problems which lie under the surface may not have had a chance to surface or be diagnosed yet.

Handing a gun to a quiet and shy 19 year old young man, who passed a NRA gun safety course but whose manic depression has not yet surfaced, is not the answer. College students are, in my view, largely untested as a group.

Also, binge drinking is a huge problem on college campuses - add a gun or two into the drunken binge party setting and I think you're courting disaster there as well.

Paul Hamilton:

All good points, Lee. I wasn't speaking specifically of college students in my commentary above, though the article that inspired it was. The University of Utah is a unique case because in that state, there is much less problem with drinking and general rowdiness than there would be on campuses in other states. So you could argue that they are uniquely qualified to carry weapons.
But what about the professors or staff of the schools. If anybody at all had been armed, Cho could have been stopped at some point in his rampage and lives saved.
Regarding the rules about his mental state, I'm really not sure, but I read that the judge's ruling that ordered his examination should have been sufficient to stop the sale. I might be wrong, however, and if anyone can cite something different, I'd be glad to learn the facts.
But expanding the argument into the communuity at large, how do you feel about this? Would you support a minimum age of 21 for a concealed-carry permit or would 18 be okay so long as the person met the requirements I listed?
I posted this to start a discussion, so I want to hear what other folks think about it.


Having been at quite a number of college parties over the years, it's not exactly a safe assumption to claim that making guns legal would make them magically show up.

Most of the places (frats, off-campus housing) that encourage binge drinking tend to have one or more firearms in the building at all times. It's just that most firearm owners don't want drunk morons playing with (or stealing) their expensive pieces of hardware .

...or having their drunk rowdy friends accidentally kill each other (even drunk idiots can use common sense from time to time).


Most of you leftist anti-gun nuts seem to miss the point in the story where the student is 24 years old. You have to be 21 years old to get a carry permit, so "children" are not carrying.

Cops CANNOT protect you, PERIOD. They will right up a report, ask witnesses and maybe arrest the scumbag and then a leftist lawyer will try to get him off with an insanity plea because his parents gave him too much self esteem as a child and when he entered the real world, his feelings were hurt.


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