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I am a 1967 graduate of The Citadel (Distinguished Military Student, member of the Economic Honor Society, Dean's List), a 1975 graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div., magna cum laude, member of the Phi Alpha Chi academic honor society); I attended the Free University of Amsterdam and completed my History of Dogma there and then received a full scholarship from the Dutch government to transfer to the sister school in Kampen, Holland. In 1979 I graduated from the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Churches of Holland (Drs. with honors in Ethics). My New Testament minor was completed with Herman Ridderbos. I am also a 2001 Ph.D. graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary (Systematic Theology) in Philly with a dissertation on the "unio mystica" in the theology of Dr. Herman Bavinck (1854-1921). I am a former tank commander, and instructor in the US Army Armor School at Ft. Knox, KY. I have been happily married to my childhood sweetheart and best friend, Sally, for 43 years. We have 6 children, one of whom is with the Lord, and 14 wonderful grandchildren.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Virginia Tech Massacre

Death on a College Campus

Predictably with the massacre/suicide of thirty-three students and professors at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, VA the usual hoot and cry for more gun control was once again heard across the nation. The “anti-gun” crowd trotted out and gussied up its time-worn screeds about how we need more gun control to prevent events like the one that occurred at VT. Rosie O’Donnell led the charge pontificating on The View that if we had more gun control laws and if the government would act and confiscate all weapons except those owned by hunters, the type of thing perpetrated by Cho Seung-Hui would never have happened. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

What Ms. O’Donnell won’t tell you and doesn’t want you to know is that she is accompanied by one or two bodyguards who are always “packing heat.” What Ms. O’Donnell did is tantamount to Al Gore, Arianna Huffington, or Robert Kennedy, Jr. giving a “green” speech on environmentalism or global warming and then hopping in their Gulfstream 5 Lear Jet and going to their next talk on how “we” should conserve fuel and be concerned about our “carbon footprint.” Just as an aside, when liberals say “we” they mean you and me and not them. “We” is a misnomer.” There was a time when you could openly call such contradictions hypocrisy, but unfortunately the uninvolved American public has drunk the Kool-Aid and is too busy being “PC” to be bothered.

Of course the usual intellectual elite from Hollywood and from the feminist movement have added their uninformed two cents worth to the present discussion. It still remains an irony that the majority of feminists are also pacifists but still see women in combat as a step forward. Go and figure. Do you think this just might have something to do with ideology and not with consistency?

I have a solution to dealing with people like Hui and it has nothing to do with more gun control laws (frivolous and fruitless) or disarming U.S. citizens. In fact, my proposal aims at just the opposite and I want you to try to put your emotions aside for a moment and think through the problem. As an interesting adjunct, I’ll even be providing some cold, hard facts to consider in the process.

Patient/Physician Privilege

Hui was a sick, evil, and sinful puppy. I was disgusted that the news outlets looped his vitriol constantly. Showing this sinful man’s meanderings and rantings had to be a blow to those who had lost loved ones at that awful day as well as to the students who had to relive what must have been a terrifying, horrifying experience. Every “nut case” contemplating being a Columbine or Hui copy cat will look at all the notoriety and understand that he can get his or her 5 minutes of fame, even if it is posthumously. To my way of thinking, those bytes should have never been put up on the screen. Doing that was like putting the TV cameras on someone who runs out on the baseball or football field during a game. Wise networks decided a long time ago that they would not grace such stupidity by putting the cameras on such irresponsible and self-centered antics.

The state of VA had evaluated Hui and determined that he was a danger both to himself and to others. Why was that information not then passed along to his roommates? Why didn’t the administration take the necessary steps and actions? Why didn’t VA pass this medical information along to law enforcement to be put into their data base? If they had, Hui would have never passed the background check to be able to purchase a handgun. The fact is that Hui showed a number of clear “red flag” signs that reasonable people would recognize as aberrant behavior. He wrote plays about murder; he started a fire on one of the dorms; and he went for long, long periods without even speaking to his roommates, but nothing was done. In all likelihood, VT will be looking at a long line of lawsuits for negligence from parents and faculty members as well. Philip Howard’s book The Death of Common Sense definitely comes to mind.[1]

The Elimination of Guns

The best the pundits and hacks of gun control can come up with is that we need more laws controlling guns or—like Rosie—the existing guns need to be confiscated. Let me begin with the latter and work backwards. In the history of mankind there have been “defining moments” vis-à-vis the confiscation of the citizenry’s weapons. Whenever a dictator, monarch, or group wants to control the populace one of the first things they do is to confiscate their firearms. It happened in England prior to America’s colonization, it happened during the Third Reich, it happened during Stalin’s reign of terror, and it has happened with virtually every person who wants absolute control over his country.

Utopians muse about a world without guns with world peace. While we would all like to “give peace a chance” we also understand that his is not reality. Christians know and understand that man is depraved and evil (cf. Gen. 6:5; 8:21; Rom. 8:5-8; Eph. 2:1-10). Evil people do evil deeds. Therefore, the case should be—and has been—effectively made that more guns actually means less crime. The Stanford economist, Thomas Sowell, has stated, for example, that John Lott’s book More Guns Less Crime is one of the most important books of our time.[2] Sowell went on to add that the book “provides thoroughly researched facts on a life-and-death subject that is too often discussed on the basis of unsubstantiated beliefs and hysterical emotions” (Italics mine). Indeed. There are fewer subjects in our ethical repertoire were there is so much disinformation than on guns and gun laws. Unfortunately, a portion of this disinformation is disseminated intentionally by ideologues like Rosie O’Donnell, Michael Moore, and the Hollywood and media elite. So let’s attempt to take a dispassionate approach to what happened at VT recently as well as the question of guns and gun control for the populace in general and for Christians in particular.

Realistically, there are guns in the world—a relatively large number in fact—and all the wishing and utopic hoping is not going to change that. Just as there are sinners in the world, so are there guns. In addition, however, guns are not sinners and guns, by themselves, do not kill or murder people; there must be someone to pull the trigger, lanyard, or trigger the firing mechanism. You noticed I trust that I’m making a distinction between killing and murder. The 6th commandment prohibits the latter without prohibiting the former. Christians need to understand this because all too often killing and murder are lumped together and they are very distinct entities.

If some of the students at VT had been armed then without a doubt there still would have been some casualties, but I believe that far, far fewer would have been killed that day by Hui. Do you remember the incident at Appalachian Law School about five years ago? You probably don’t, because the media gave it scant attention. Why? Because what occurred there militated against their ideology. Here’s what took place there: a would-be mass murderer like Hui showed up on campus and began carrying out his diabolic scheme. Two students at the school rushed to their cars, grabbed their guns, and pinned the perpetrator down until police could arrive and subdue him. Moreover, even though some won’t admit it, knowing that people are carrying guns is an effective deterrent against such crimes. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself why law enforcement officers are not accosted more frequently. The reason is that criminals know that the police officers are carrying guns. Lott’s insightful research clearly shows that where guns are more prevalent, crime lessens—which is precisely what the PC crowd does not want us to believe.[3]

In a recent column in The Orange County Register, (Sunday, April 22, 2007; Commentary, “Gun-free zone also reality-free”) syndicated columnist Mark Steyn gives us some essential insights to ponder in light of the VT massacres. First, he points out that VT was officially a “gun-free zone)—at least formally, which is always the caveat. What the administration had created at VT was really a false security. They didn’t really have a gun-free zone they simply had a sign declaring that VT was a gun-free zone. The two are very, very different. The sign is just the encouragement someone like Hui needed. He’s secure knowing that everyone is falsely secure because they think there are no guns present. That’s terrorism. Steyn correctly quips, “I think we have a problem in our culture not with ‘realistic weapons’ but with being realistic about reality” (p.4). Well said. All the prattle about more gun control and confiscating all guns doesn’t deal with reality. It is a flight into some form of utopia, which we all know means “no place.”

Second, Steyn gives the example of who he describes as “a couple of alienated loser teens” who decided that they were going to kill someone, steal his or her ATM cards, and go to Australia. The houses they attempted to enter were occupied by grumpy old men with potent handguns or 12-gauge shotguns wearing plaid shirts. So they decided they needed a new plan—even losers have their moments. So these two teens decided to do something that they hadn’t often been accused of doing: think. If their plan was not working in rural New England, where might it work? Or, where are you “most likely to encounter gullible defenseless types who have foresworn all means of resistance?” (Ibid.) It was a relatively short drive over the Connecticut River to Dartmouth College, a bastion of liberalism and liberal thinking. These two “terrorists” went to a home of two Dartmouth professors, rang the doorbell, and brutally murdered the professors precisely because they were easy targets being unarmed.

Third, as much as the media screams bloody murder about First Amendment rights, they are strangely silent when it comes to Second or Fourteenth Amendment rights. Halbrook has clearly documented that from the outset of this country was the arming of the citizenry. The Second Amendment reads, “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. (Italics mine.) When it comes to the Fourteenth Amendment we often think only of the “due process” provision or “equal protection under the laws,” both of which are contained in that amendment. It’s the first part that we forget: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States…” (Italics mine.) One of those privileges or immunities is the right to bear arms and, it should be noted, that the forefathers were not talking about short sleeved shirts or “wife beaters” when they referred to “bear arms.”

The pundits and hacks will continue to vilify guns. I spoke to an avid anti-gun person recently who claimed that we just needed to know how to talk and carry ourselves in situations like VT. That explanation was both horribly naïve and lame, but it was also not totally atypical of the thoughts of a number of people in America today. You cannot negotiate with a terrorist I don’t care how liberal or PC you are. Hui murdered indiscriminately because he was evil. If you plan to attempt to negotiate or reason with a murderer like Hui you will become a statistic I don’t care how many liberal professors tell you otherwise.

As a closely remark, I suggest that everyone—pro-gun and anti-gun—purchase a copy of Larry Elder’s excellent DVD documentary Michael and Me. It is one of the best investments of your time you can make especially since the murders at VT are still fresh in our minds.

Our hearts go out to all those who lost loved ones that day. There are dads and moms, wives, and others who have the deep ache of grief in the depths of their souls today because of what Hui did. There is nothing anyone can do to undo what happened at VT. In fact, there is nothing—no law or no amount of laws—anyone can 100% prevent something like this happening again. We are fallen creatures living in a fallen world. But in ethics there is good, better, best and bad, worse, worst; there are incentives to good behavior and there are deterrents to bad. Nothing and no one is 100%, however, except God.

There are, however, measures that can be taken to minimize events like VT. The first step to deterring more deranged people from acting out their hostility as Cho Seung-Hui did at VT is to take the Second Amendment seriously and to allow our citizens—after thorough and proper background checks—to arm in order to protect themselves and others.

One final note before I close this installment; this is something that has been troubling me since the day of the shooting. I found it more than revealing that professor Liviu Librescu, a 76-year-old lecturer heroically used his body to bar the door to his classroom with Hui on the other side, allowing his students to escape while able-bodied 20-something males students fled through a window. Granted, it cuts against our nature to run towards danger rather than away from it, but something is dreadfully, dreadfully wrong in a society when the young men act this way. Perhaps one explanation can be found in what FOX-News reported today. Are you ready for this? It has been determined by a panel of esteemed elitists that it’s “okay” for Gen-X men to cry in the workplace. There really is a generational divide! Maybe the service academies, military colleges, military, and police forces should tell their men the same thing. May God help us overcome this nonsense and femininity among our young men in his strength and cause those young men to have an ardent desire to return to real masculinity.


[1] Philip K. Howard, The Death of Common Sense, (NY: Random House, 1994).

[2] John R. Lott, Jr., More Guns Less Crime, Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws, (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 20002). Lott is senior research scholar in the School of Law at Yale University.

[3] Ibid., 77-79; especially Figures 4.5-4.9.

11 Comments:

Blogger Andrew C said...

Great post! It's times like this I'm glad I've got my NRA life membership!!! ;-)

AC

9:14 AM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Andrew,
Thanks. I just got back from MS where I was able to do some tactical shooting with a NRA qualified trainer. Keep in touch.
Rattlesnake 6

9:28 PM  
Blogger Kyle said...

I have heard some talk from other Christians of forgiving Hui and being compassionate regarding his situation. I'm curious what your thoughts are on that kind of response? The Amish responded similarly last year with the Amish school shooter, but I think it seems a bit off since the murderer never showed repentance and the victims aren't around to grant it.

10:18 PM  
Blogger SolaMeanie said...

Kyle,

People confuse the role of the state as "bearing the sword" to restrain and punish evildoers, and that of individuals who may or may not choose to forgive offenses against themselves.

The Amish and the families of the respective murderers might well choose to forgive, but such forgiveness would not (and should not) have saved them from execution had they not offed themselves.

8:57 AM  
Blogger chuckbri said...

Worldnet Daily reports (http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=55326) that "A year earlier, the Virginia legislature banned all guns on campus in the interest of safety."

So, whose _fault_ was it?

5:30 PM  
Blogger Ryan said...

Ron,

Seems to me that you are more or less correct here…liberals who scream for our guns to be taken away are making a rather foolish and rash antithesis. Pacifism in the light you have shown takes on a rather ugly face when it simply stands by and watches its neighbors mowed down in cold blood. My question though for us as Christians – is there a moral or ethical dilemma with the manufacturing of our modern weapons? Should we as Christian encourage the production and development of modern weaponry? As someone in the engineering field this is more my concern. I assume we should not abandon this field of technology, instead we should help shape it…but can our technology out grow our humanity?
Thanks for the post.

3:21 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Kyle,
Christians should have a disposition to forgive. For what--precisely--should we forgive him? Murder? Massacre? Collateral damage? The Amish are pacifists and I see no biblical warrant for the type of pacifism they demonstrate. I agree that their forgiveness is a bit "off."

11:06 AM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Chuckbri,
There's enough guilt to go around. Surely the VA legislature has culpability because of the ridiculous law they passed. It was ludicrous and ineffective. Hui is guilty of murder. By implication, everyone who participated in taking guns away from US citizens without felony charges or records is to blame.
Ultimately, however, Hui pulled the trigger.

11:09 AM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Ryan,
No, not "more of less" I am right here. When, however, you ask the question about Christians and modern weaponry the answer should be "it depends." For example, Christians should be opposed to weapons such as anthrax, serin, etc. There are weapons that go beyond the pale and that whole question is up for debate. As far as the other weapons such as Abrams' tanks, MOABs, smart bombs, etc. we can fully support their development and use.

11:12 AM  
Blogger Laurence M said...

So Rosie O'Donnell thinks that taking guns away from the law-abiding will solve crime? Maybe if we took away her spoon, it would solve her obesity...

Laurence M

12:20 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Rosie lost it a long time ago--both with a view to guns as well as the calories.

12:57 PM  

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