The murders on the Virginia Tech campus, the worst such rampage in our history, might have been mitigated if just one member of the faculty or a student had the means to return fire.
I have owned guns for decades. On rare occasions, I have had to “show” one of my guns to people with bad intentions. Not surprisingly, they changed their plans to take my money and do me some harm. The Virginia Tech murders confirm the value of empowering ordinary citizens to carry a concealed weapon.
On March 9 I learned of a ruling in the case of Parker v. District of Columbia in which Senior Judge Lawrence H. Silberman wrote an opinion, with Judge Thomas B. Griffith concurring, that restored the Second Amendment to the citizens of the District and, by extension, to every citizen of these United States. Not since 1976, had residents of the District had the right to defend themselves with force of arms.
Judge Silberman wrote, “In sum, the phrase ‘the right of the people’, when read intratextually and in light of Supreme Court precedent, leads us to conclude that the right in question is individual.”
As Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, noted succinctly, “The right of self-preservation was understood as the right to defend oneself against attacks by lawless individuals, or, if absolutely necessary, to resist and throw off a tyrannical government.”
That is precisely why the Second Amendment says, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Many States refused to ratify the proposed U.S. Constitution until this amendment and nine others were included. As Judge Silberman noted in his decision, the Second Amendment acknowledges “a right that pre-existed the Constitution” in the same way as freedom of speech.
Barely a week later in the Greenwich Village area of New York, David Garvin, carrying two semi-automatic firearms and a bag with 100 rounds of ammunition killed Alfredo Romero, a pizzeria employee, firing 15 rounds into him. Confronted by unarmed auxiliary police officers, Nicholas Todd Pekearo and Eugene Marshalik, he killed them as well. They were volunteer civilians who wear uniforms nearly identical to regular police. Finally, Garvin—a man with no psychiatric history—was shot dead by full-time police officers.
This is why police officers are always armed. I could not help wondering how that event would have been altered if any of his victims had been able to shoot back.
The Second Amendment Foundation notes that firearms are used defensively an estimated 2.5 million times every year, four times more than criminal uses. This represents some 2,575 lives protected and saved for every life lost to a gun. According to the national Safety Council, the loss of life to accidental firearm death is at its lowest point since records were begun nearly a hundred years ago.
In a nation where the rights conferred on individual Americans by the Second Amendment were just reaffirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia, it’s worth considering that, as of November 1997, there were an estimated 129 million privately owned firearms in the nation.
Guess what? After September 11, 2001, the one thing a lot of people did was to go out and buy a gun. If a bunch of fanatical Muslims could hijack four commercial airlines, destroy the World Trade Center towers, fly one into the Pentagon, and intended to fly the other possibly into the White House or the Capitol building, a lot of people decided that being able to shoot people with similar intentions was a very good idea.
Since then we have seen numerous incidents of “instant Jihad syndrome” where some Islamist decided to kill infidels who were just out for an hour at the local mall or otherwise peacefully going about their lives. And, yes, there are still criminals who use firearms. Now, however, Americans are not bound by some gun-banning law to be nothing more than victims.
Responsible gun ownership is a good idea. And if this is the first time you have heard about the recent decision of the Court of Appeals, that’s because this story got buried by most mainline newspapers and by virtually all of the broadcast news media. No doubt this case will go to the Supreme Court at some point.
The writers of the U.S. Constitution understood the necessity for an armed citizenry. When only the government has guns, everyone else is just a slave. Gun-banners who would turn everyone’s life and liberty over to the care of an all-powerful, central government, don’t understand and don’t agree with that.
As gun law expert, John M. Synder, put it, “Gun rights are human rights. Gun rights equate with the right to defend life and, therefore, with the very right to life itself.”
For more information, visit www.saf.org
Alan Caruba writes a weekly column, “Warning Signs”, posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center, www.anxietycenter.com His book, “Right Answers: Separating Fact from Fantasy”, is published by Merril Press.
© Alan Caruba, April 2007