The NYTimes has an article today calling for more gun control:
Yesterdayâ€™s mass shooting at Virginia Tech â€” the worst in American history â€” is another horrifying reminder that some of the gravest dangers Americans face come from killers at home armed with guns that are frighteningly easy to obtain.
Not much is known about the gunman, who killed himself, or about his motives or how he got his weapons, so it is premature to draw too many lessons from this tragedy. But it seems a safe bet that in one way or another, this will turn out to be another instance in which an unstable or criminally minded individual had no trouble arming himself and harming defenseless people.
In the wake of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre â€” in which two alienated students plotted for months before killing 12 students, a teacher and themselves â€” public school administrators focused heavily on spotting warning signs early enough to head off tragedy.
As the investigation of the Virginia Tech shootings unfolds in coming days, it will be important to ascertain whether there were any hints of the tragedy to come and what might be done to head off such horrors in the future. Campuses are inherently open communities, and Virginia Tech has some 26,000 students using hundreds of buildings over 2,600 acres. It is not easy to guarantee a safe haven.
The investigations will also need to look into the response by the campus and local police. The initial shootings killed two students in a dormitory around 7:15 a.m., prompting a 911 call and a police response. Tragically, the police assumed that was the end of it and thought the shooter might have left the campus and even the state. Two hours later a second, more lethal round of shooting claimed some 30 lives in an engineering building across campus. If the same gunman was responsible for both incidents, the police will have to explain why they failed to intercept his second foray or did not lock down the whole campus.
Our hearts and the hearts of all Americans go out to the victims and their families. Sympathy was not enough at the time of Columbine, and eight years later it is not enough. What is needed, urgently, is stronger controls over the lethal weapons that cause such wasteful carnage and such unbearable loss.
This argument might sound good on paper but, as usual, it skips over the crucial parts of the arguments: