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Offline hmx9123

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Re: Virginia Tech - School Massacre
« Reply #30 on: May 09, 2007, 02:42:10 AM »
I am not sure where the poster got the statistics from for the UK.  The US stats seem about right from what I've read on the BJS (Buereau of Justice Statistics) website.  The comparitive statistics sound really bad, but I'm not sure they're correct.  They may also have reporting differences, too.  I don't want to really start getting into an argument based on unreferenced statistics.  If you want to make irrelevant anecdotal arguments, there are plenty of reponsible gun owners out there who have never shot anyone or misused their weapons in any way, myself included.

Perhaps part of the problem is that the US was built on violence.  Let's face it: we're a violent nation.  We were born in revolution, we've fought in every major war since our country was founded, and we're the only nation in the world to use a nuclear weapon against another country.  The violence, both firearm and non-firearm related, is high here.  I'm not sure that it has to do with firearms.  Look at Norway, Sweeden, Switzerland, Austria and several other European countries where you can either buy guns or the government ISSUES you a weapon.  A few countries (e.g., Switzerland, Sweeden) will issue you a fully automatic weapon (i.e., a machinegun) once you have done your compulsory military service.  Besides the fact that after being in military service one probably looks at a firearm as a tool and something that's a pain in the rear that has to be cleaned all the time, etc., there's the underlying culture that doesn't proclaim violence the way ours does.

Of course, there is no simple explanation or solution; this is just another take on the whole reasons behind it all.  Of course, you get arguments on why you should be able to own guns to defend yourself, and why you shoul ban all guns.

Personally, I think the 2nd amendment does guarantee the right for US citizens to personally own firearms, but only to the extent that the weapons are able to be used to form an organized militia at the need of the government.  The original intent was for the average citizen to be armed so that in time of need the government could call upon them for defense of the homeland.  This eliminates the need for a large standing army, and as far as I'm concerned, would be ideal for us today.  In that light, the 2nd amendment would not at all guarantee the right to own handguns--as they are useless for warfare.  It would, however, guarantee the right to own military weaponry (M-16s, etc.), strange as it may sound.  Of course, we won't be disbanding our army anytime soon, so perhaps all of this point is moot.

One of the more interesting arguments for firearms rights is that the 2nd amendment was originally put into the constitution as a 'doomsday' clause.  The argument goes that the founding fathers wanted the populace to be armed so that if the government got too bad, the people could rise up against it and overthrow it.  While it is true that most dictatorships disarm the people before the commit genocide, etc., I'm not sure that the architects of the constitution had this in mind.  This is also me speculating on what men over 200 years ago were thinking, so take it for what it's worth.

The stupidest argument for gun rights is the idea that the 2nd amendment was written so that we could 'defend ourselves' against criminals (particularly this argument carries for handguns).  I very seriously doubt that was the intent behind it at all.  I personally believe that handguns are not protected by the 2nd amendment.  Interestingly, they are one of the most popular types of firearm to purchase here in the US.

Anyway, that's my 2c.

Offline hmx9123

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Re: Virginia Tech - School Massacre
« Reply #31 on: May 09, 2007, 03:27:09 AM »
I don't mean to reply to my post, but I did have one final thought after I posted:

To at least partially answer the question "What is it that must be unique to the American psyche that can't deal with the loss of guns?", one must consider our heritage and something that is usually overlooked: a large part of the US is still very rural.  These rural areas have grown up with hunting as their heritage.  Many of these people are dirt poor, but are able to go hunting on their own land for deer, waterfowl, whatever is in season.  This is a tradition that has been passed down since the founding of the United States.  Looking at England at the time, only the nobility could go hunting, both because of land ownership and because of firearms.  In the US, even the common man could go hunting, due to the large amount of open space and the availability of firearms.

What does this mean today?  The rural areas of this nation are very protective of their hunting heritage; part of that is owning firearms to do the hunting.  If firearms are banned, part of their heritage disappears as well.  The rural culture is very, very different than that in the cities or even the suburbs in the US.  It is something that one really has to experience in order to understand it.  We have so much open space here in the US that it has created its own culture in a way.

Sadly, some political organizations of late have been exploiting the fear of the people in the rural areas that if any laws or restrictions are placed on guns, their heritage will be gone.  Back in 2000, I remember seeing ads on TV at our friends' house in a very rural area where they actually said 'Al Gore wants to take away your heritage and your rights'.  I am not kidding.  It is a commercial that I would have NEVER seen had I not been in a rural area--because they didn't show it back home in the suburbs, and they didn't show it in the small town where I went to school, only in the very rural areas.

So, I hope that this sheds a bit of light on your question, though this issue is so charged that there are probably a large number of people that are simply glossing over most of this and I am thus probably wasting most of my time in writing it.

Offline DrCMS

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Re: Virginia Tech - School Massacre
« Reply #32 on: May 09, 2007, 05:01:22 PM »
I posted the stats on gun deaths for 2002 and I got the death figures from the BBC website. 
The USA has a population of just under 300 million while the UK's is just over 60 million.

Hunting with a rifle is one thing but going on a killing spree with a pistol is a very different thing.  To my mind a handgun is useful only for killing another human being at close range they have no place in hunting and neither does a machine gun.  But they are readily available for anyone to walk into a gunshop and buy.

The UK has a very violent past but we don't have the same current violent gun culture the US has, which is not based on hunting in my view.

My father in law recently went to the USA to visit some American friends and he was amazed to see his friend taking a handgun out with him to go for a dayout.  How bad is it in America that carrying a gun seems a good idea?

There is a mindset in America that problems can be solved with a gun.  If you can not change that or limit the availability of handguns that these incident will continue.

Offline dfx-

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Re: Virginia Tech - School Massacre
« Reply #33 on: May 09, 2007, 09:13:43 PM »
So, I hope that this sheds a bit of light on your question, though this issue is so charged that there are probably a large number of people that are simply glossing over most of this and I am thus probably wasting most of my time in writing it.

It does indeed help explain it and being born and bred in one of two countries worldwide that have even a policeforce that are not allowed firearms (something I'm proud of), I'm sure it is something that has to be experienced.

It doesn't excuse the apparent lack of interest to alter the unacceptable, abhorrent status quo, but it does help explain it.

Is it a case where if school shootings are becoming relative commonplace, how much misery has to be suffered to break the mental  barriers you mention?

Is heritage really worth all that?
« Last Edit: May 09, 2007, 09:23:39 PM by dfx- »
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Offline constant thinker

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Re: Virginia Tech - School Massacre
« Reply #34 on: May 09, 2007, 09:24:08 PM »
I think the 2nd amendment was formed mainly for the purpose of a militia and hunting (back to rural America), but that's just my opinion.

Another thing about America is that it was partly formed on freedom. Your free to buy what you want, work where you want, practice whatever religion you want, say/write what you want (one of America's past times seams to be president bashing), own a gun, live where you want, business isn't that highly restricted (compared to other countries), etc. Now of course other countries have the things I listed. Part of it I think is most (if not all) Americans don't want the government telling them what they can and can't own/do.

I live in New Hampshire. Our state motto is "Live Free or Die." People will get extremely defensive whenever the state government wants to pass a ban on something. We are one of the only states that doesn't require a seatbelt after 18. You're only required to wear eye protection (as simple as sunglasses) when you ride a motorcycle.

People just don't want the government making decisions for them, and that includes on whether or not to own a gun. Guns do need to be kept out of people who are "dangerous" and/or have psychological problems that affect their judgement.
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Offline hmx9123

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Re: Virginia Tech - School Massacre
« Reply #35 on: May 10, 2007, 03:08:02 AM »
Quote
I posted the stats on gun deaths for 2002 and I got the death figures from the BBC website. The USA has a population of just under 300 million while the UK's is just over 60 million.

Links?  I'm not saying your statistics are wrong, but I don't see any links.  Interestingly, I was reading on the BBC website that the UK government doesn't report crime statistics.  This is different than the US, where our government reports it (look up the bureau of justice statistics).  The details on the reporting are very relevant, because it defines what is counted.  For instance, gun deaths in the US statistics include suicides (half of the gund deaths).  In the UK?  I don't know, because I can't look at the website.  I don't trust statistics reported by pro- or anti- gun organizations, which includes media such as the BBC.  Where did they get their statistics?  I'd be curious.  Even the BBC has strangely pro-gun articles sometimes:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2656875.stm

I would be interested to see the numbers for the % of gun owners in each country compared with the gun deaths per capita.  What I'm driving at here is that while we definitely have more incidents, even per capita, a smaller % of our gun owners may commit homicide.  I don't know, because I haven't seen any statistics on this anywhere.

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To my mind a handgun is useful only for killing another human being at close range they have no place in hunting and neither does a machine gun.  But they are readily available for anyone to walk into a gunshop and buy.

A handgun is made for killing another person at close range; there is no argument there.  While there is a niche market for handgun hunters, it is not the ideal weapon for hunting, so we can ignore it for the sake of argument here.  A machine gun also has no place in hunting, and is actually illegal to use for hunting in all states.  I would like to point out, though, that you cannot walk into a store and buy a machinegun here--though you probably didn't intend that through your post, I don't want anyone to get that impression.  Handguns have much more stringent requirements than long guns in general, but it is true that many shops sell them here.

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The UK has a very violent past but we don't have the same current violent gun culture the US has, which is not based on hunting in my view.

It is true; we have cultural differences.  I hope that I didn't imply that the US's violent culture is based on hunting, as it isn't.  The wish for gun ownership is based (at least partially) on hunting.  The violent culture here is from a montage of different things too numerous to list here, probably little to none of which has to do with hunting.

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My father in law recently went to the USA to visit some American friends and he was amazed to see his friend taking a handgun out with him to go for a dayout.  How bad is it in America that carrying a gun seems a good idea?

This is ridiculous.  If you live in an area where you need to carry a handgun to feel safe, you need to move.  I have never had to carry a gun with me 'for a day out'.  Your father's friend is paranoid.  That is NOT commonplace here in the US.  The media hypes everything up and would make you believe that it is commonplace, but it isn't.  This isn't the wild west.  The only places I've ever carried guns are out in the sticks (rural areas) where we were hunting or on one or two occasions when we were going into an area with a lot of poisonous snakes.

Quote
There is a mindset in America that problems can be solved with a gun.  If you can not change that or limit the availability of handguns that these incident will continue.

This view is exaggerated by the media.  While the media pervades our lives here and fewer and fewer people can think for themselves (thus this is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy), it is incorrect to assume that the general mindset in the US is that problems can be solved with a gun.  You then assert that this mindset needs to change, even though it may not exist anywhere besides Hollywood, the media and a few nuts out there.

School shootings with handguns may decrease if the availability of handguns decreases, but other things may take their place, like bombings.  In the US, only about 13% of the murders are comitted with knives (http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/homicide/weapons.htm#weapons), but in the UK, about 30% are comitted with knives, most likely because guns are illegal (http://www.murderuk.com/misc_crime_stats.html, http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/documents/cons-ban-offensive-weapons-0307?view=Binary) Interestingly, gun crime in general has been going down over the past 10 years or so in the US (http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/glance/firearmnonfatalno.htm and http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/homicide/weapons.htm#weapons).  So, say what you want, but statistics can prove just about anything.

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Is it a case where if school shootings are becoming relative commonplace, how much misery has to be suffered to break the mental  barriers you mention?

I wouldn't say that school shootings are commonplace.  They are certainly recieving more media attention now, and they may be becoming more common, but they are not commonplace.  This society would be in anarchy if that were true.  School shootings are still very rare, even here in the US, where the occurrance rate is higher than in other countries.  I don't know how much misery has to be suffered to break the barriers; at the same time, I also don't know what price we're willing to pay as a society for the freedom to own a firearm.  Constant Thinker is correct when he says that people here can be rabid about not letting the government tell us what we can or can't do, which includes owning firearms.  If we as a society are willing to shoulder the burden of the tragedies our freedoms afford us, then I would argue that it is our society's right to keep them.

I don't mean to slam England, but I consider it too much of a police state to live there.  The fact that swords and other 'combat' knives are illegal (see above report) seems odd to me.  Humans are always going to find a way to kill each other, and we're silly to think that we can outlaw the means to do so.  The fact that London and other major cities take pictures of cars' license plates, feed the data into a computer system and track the movements of automobiles to 'detect terrorist activity' is ludicrous (http://www.video-surveillance-guide.com/video-surveillance-revolution.htm) (my opinion on the subject is well reflected by the author here: http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2005/10/automatic_licen.html).  The fact that the common citizen can't carry anything for their own personal defense or even legally fight back is difficult for me to swallow.  I believe that is a cultural difference, too.  I, like many of my fellow Americans, do not wish to relinquish my personal power to the police and the government.  The UK police have greater power than the US police, and though they don't daily carry guns, they certainly have the capability (just look at the murder of the Brazilian man in the subway after the July bombings).  I want to live under a government that fears the citizen, not the other way around.  I would warrant that Limpet Chicken would have an earful to say on that subject. ;)

Offline Borek

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Re: Virginia Tech - School Massacre
« Reply #36 on: May 10, 2007, 03:49:19 AM »
I don't mean to slam England, but I consider it too much of a police state to live there.  The fact that swords and other 'combat' knives are illegal (see above report) seems odd to me.

How does it differ from the lab glass being prohibited in Texas?

Quote
The fact that London and other major cities take pictures of cars' license plates, feed the data into a computer system and track the movements of automobiles to 'detect terrorist activity' is ludicrous

How does it differ from the idea of anti-terrorist phone tapping proposed by Bush administration?

What I am aiming at is that every country tries to defend itself and it always means stealing some of its citizens freedom. Sometimes effects are just plain stupid. Still, Joe Average from US when moved to UK will be not arrested, as Joe Average rarely have a firearm or combat knife with him. At least I have not yet meet anyone that could be considered normal and will carry such things with him ;)
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Offline DrCMS

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Re: Virginia Tech - School Massacre
« Reply #37 on: May 10, 2007, 04:18:05 AM »
Quote
I don't mean to slam England, but I consider it too much of a police state to live there.  The fact that swords and other 'combat' knives are illegal (see above report) seems odd to me.
 

Really it seems perfectly normal to me.  Apart from hurting another person what good are they?

Offline Borek

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Re: Virginia Tech - School Massacre
« Reply #38 on: May 10, 2007, 05:54:31 AM »
1. It does not differ from owning lab glass in Texas, and the fact that lab glass is prohibited in Texas is a major violation of our rights.

2. It does not differ from the anti-terrorist phone tapping proposed by the Bush administration, and I vehemently oppose their unconstitutional and illegal warrantless wiretaps, as do most Americans with half a brain.  (Yeah, I know, you can argue that most of us don't have half a brain...)

Every country does have its own brand of freedom and its limitations; guns don't make a country safer--I never claimed they did, as a matter of fact.  They may make the place more dangerous in point of fact.  However, that is something that we, as a country, are free to choose if we so want.

But that's exactly my point - could be I was not expressing it clearly, perhaps because of - believe it or not - lanugage limitations. Could be irony was lost... Sorry if my message was not clear and/or abusive.

I just wanted to show constant thinker that his generalization (about freedom) is faulty. In US - just like in any other country - you are free as long as you don't try to cross border line set as a limit to your freedom.

EOT.
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Offline Donaldson Tan

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Re: Virginia Tech - School Massacre
« Reply #39 on: May 10, 2007, 12:49:03 PM »
It is obvious we all agree to a common standard - the freedom of an individual has to be balanced with public security. Different countries have different approach and prioritise security and freedom differently. There is no global unified standard and there will never be one. This is what makes this issue so complex.

Does this topic has to do with people being over-zealous with their freedom in America or the possiibility that there might be a greater proportion of youth lacking the sense of responsibility, yet having access to firearms?

Freedom is not the reason or cause for anything detrimental to happen. Irresponsibility is.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2007, 03:29:57 PM by geodome »
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Offline hmx9123

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Re: Virginia Tech - School Massacre
« Reply #40 on: May 10, 2007, 01:48:32 PM »
With all due respect, Borek, we don't live in anarchy.  What constant thinker was most likely expressing was that here in the US we enjoy more freedoms than many other places in the world.  In ANY society that's not total anarchy, there will always be limits, but we are less limited here than in many or perhaps most other countries in the world as to what we can buy, where we can live, where we can work, what religion we practice, what we say, and what kind of busines we run, and not just related to firearms.  There are many other countries in the world where one has the same freedoms in part, and some in which they have all.  Looking at places like China, though, one is not free to do hardly any of these things.  Looking at places that are much less restrictive, like perhaps Poland or Germany, they are much closer to what the US is like in terms of freedom, but even there you may not be allowed to pursue certain interests such as fireworks or hunting with the relative ease of the US.  That is what I would wager he was getting at, and in that respect, it is not faulty at all. 

I agree with geodome that irresponsibility is the cause of bad things that happen.  I would disagree with his sentiment, though, that others' freedom cannot compromise the security of others--I would say it backward: others' security cannot compromise the freedom of others.  I think this is where a major difference in the US culture lies--we value our freedom above our security.  Comparing things, if you look at the US, there's more crime than the UK, and a lot more crime than Singapore.  However, if you look at the relative power of the police force, Singapore is a police state, the UK is less, and the US is less than that (though our government is trying hard to catch up).  I'm not saying that a police state is bad, but it is a difference in philosophy of how one wants to live; I doubt geodome would be happy with the police force here, as I doubtlessly would be happy with the police force in Singapore.

Geodome also has a good point, though, which is that we've gotten off topic.  The whole topic was originally devoted to Mitch's request for comments on limitations on firearm ownership.  There definitely is a generational gap in firearm owner responsibility.  The older generations had a different approach to guns, and those people still in rural areas have a very different approach to guns--they treat them as tools and not as weapons.  That's a big value difference.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2007, 09:02:57 PM by hmx9123 »

Offline Donaldson Tan

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Re: Virginia Tech - School Massacre
« Reply #41 on: May 10, 2007, 03:40:27 PM »
As the moderator for the "Politics, Philosophy, Oddities" board, I have moved most of the off-topic posts to a new thread called "Balancing Individual Freedom & Public Security". Freedom is not the reason or cause for anything detrimental to happen. Irresponsibility is.

Please focus on the abuse of firearms here. Please be less confrontational too.
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Offline Entropy

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Re: Virginia Tech - School Massacre
« Reply #42 on: May 10, 2007, 11:19:20 PM »
Why I support private firearm ownership:

  The common conception seems to be that Americans will not give up their right to bear arms simply because it is written in the Constitution, handed down from our forefathers, and therefore has some sacred importance to us; that is an ignorant oversimplification which demeans the importance of the entire Bill of Rights and insults the American people. Americans believe in equality of opportunity, freedom of thought, freedom of speech, and freedom of action. These beliefs are embodied in the Constitution, a “living” changing document that, through adaptation (26 amendments and counting), continues to serve us well. We believe in what my fellow Virginian, Thomas Jefferson, described as “inalienable rights”. For any living organism, I would argue that self-defense is a “Natural” or “Inalienable” Right and that my right to bear arms is a direct consequence.

  The essential supposition underlying the second amendment, is that human beings, being inherently good and trustworthy with the stewardship of their future, deserve the opportunity to defend themselves with the best means they can afford. One can safely assume that those criminals who are willing to murder for their own good are also willing to violate firearms regulations and WILL be armed regardless of the law. The right to bear arms was intended to create a level playing field for the many who obey the law, to counter the few who defy it. The adage “Live by the gun, Die by the gun” has been condescendingly quoted by some, but this saying perfectly underscores the idea that by assuming the power of firearm ownership one must also accept the responsibility that entails. Our Founding Fathers wisely wanted that power distributed to the people because they conceived of America as a Democracy in every sense of the term, a sharing of decision-making and power.

   The opposite of democracy is totalitarianism, founded on the basis that human beings are inherently evil and that their words and actions (and thoughts if possible) need to be strictly controlled by the government. It should be of no surprise that one of the strongest early proponents of gun control was Adolf Hitler, who manipulated the draconian gun control laws passed by the Nazi’s in 1938 to systematically disarm Jewish firearm owners in the aftermath of Kristallnacht. I believe that placing so much trust and power in the hands of a few self-aggrandizing politicians is an inherently dangerous proposition. However destructive random violent crime might be, the systematic killing of citizens by authoritarian governments is a far more terrifying possibility. Nazi Germany did achieve very low crime rates after all (except for the murder of those 6 million Jews). I believe the underpinnings of totalitarianism are a deranged lunacy; you must have faith in humanity in order to believe in the future of the human race. There is no sense in believing that a politician or an officer of the law is any better, or has any greater rights or sensibility, than the common man.

  Crime in America is undeniable. There is great pressure in our society to succeed physically and monetarily and those who can not do so through legal means occasionally resort to violence – but not often. Out of 300 million Americans with an equal number of guns and an estimated 40 million gun owners, yearly firearms deaths average 30 thousand per year. What I find far more significant is that more than half of those are suicides. Americans are statistically more likely to take their own life than kill another human being, that should tell you something about the desperation of those who do kill. The unspoken truth of firearms victimization is that most of those victims are poor and uneducated people who were not born with the opportunity to achieve conventional success. The answer to this situation parroted around political circles is “gun control”. You know you are in dire straits when you have to blame an inanimate object for your problems! Guns are simply the messenger of our problems and these problems persist because people are unwilling to accept responsibility and fix them.

  Here are some simple truths that you must come to terms with, like it or not:
1) YOU are responsible for your own security. If you do not have the means to defend yourself you are shirking your responsibility – this is Nature’s law. Men, parenthetically, do not write laws, we make rules. Gravity is a law, the First Law of Thermodynamics is a law, gun control statutes are rules because they can be broken and will be broken if it suits the breaker.
2) Unless you have a magic wand that can transport all firearms into outer space and stop any new ones from being made you may as well give up on gun control.
3) The police are NOT responsible for your safety, you can’t sue them if they don’t protect you, you’re on your own!
Even if I could have a cop walking by my side every minute I wouldn’t want it – I value my freedom above my life. I will not submit to living in a gilded cage.

  You may choose not to believe these truths. You may prefer to abandon your rights and your responsibilities and rely on other people to take care of you instead of preparing to take care of others. However, may I humbly ask that you do so somewhere else? I have visited many fine countries in Europe with friendly people who have long since abandoned the way of the gun.

 Leave this one place where Brave men may still be Free.

  My life is a small fleeting gift of fate, it is inconsequential compared to the enduring gift of Freedom and Democracy that we have bequeathed to our children and to the world. My greatest hope as an American is that the latter shall far outlive the former. This nation was born in a struggle against tyranny, whether foreign or domestic, tyranny, the dominion of the many by the few, is a relentless adversary. But we have prospered from our conviction in our beliefs and we will prevail because they are right and good.

- Philip William Leonard 

Offline hmx9123

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Re: Virginia Tech - School Massacre
« Reply #43 on: May 11, 2007, 01:11:16 AM »
Wow.

Offline Donaldson Tan

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Re: Virginia Tech - School Massacre
« Reply #44 on: May 11, 2007, 04:39:18 AM »
3 good points have been raised through out this thread. They are:

There definitely is a generational gap in firearm owner responsibility.  The older generations had a different approach to guns, and those people still in rural areas have a very different approach to guns--they treat them as tools and not as weapons.  That's a big value difference.

Freedom is not the reason or cause for anything detrimental to happen. Irresponsibility is.

The unspoken truth of firearms victimization is that most of those victims are poor and uneducated people who were not born with the opportunity to achieve conventional success. The answer to this situation parroted around political circles is ?gun control?. You know you are in dire straits when you have to blame an inanimate object for your problems! Guns are simply the messenger of our problems and these problems persist because people are unwilling to accept responsibility and fix them.

I admit it is easy to jump on the bandwagon of banning guns. It seems like the most ideal solution to gun problems. However, a secondary analysis suggests that banning access to firearms is not the solution. The solution lies in reducing the need for illegitimate access to firearms and encouraging a culture in responsible use of firearms.
"Say you're in a [chemical] plant and there's a snake on the floor. What are you going to do? Call a consultant? Get a meeting together to talk about which color is the snake? Employees should do one thing: walk over there and you step on the friggin� snake." - Jean-Pierre Garnier, CEO of Glaxosmithkline, June 2006

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