Tragedy in Virginia

VirginiaTech

A serial killing incident has occurred in Virginia on the Campus of Virginia Tech. Even in the considerable confusion immediately following the incident, there are many conflicting reports and variable reported numbers for casualties. It appears that at least 32 have been killed, including a gunman. This figure may increase because there are an unconfirmed number of injured and the extent of their injuries is not yet reported with any accuracy.

VirginiaStateFlag

Virginia state flag Virginia Flag to be Lowered Immediately Until Further Notice

TimKaine

Governor Timothy Kaine has ordered that the flag of the Commonwealth of Virginia be flown at half-staff at the State Capitol and throughout Virginia in memory and respect for the victims of today’s tragedy at Virginia Tech. The state flag should be lowered immediately on Monday, April 16 2007, and remain at half-staff until further notice.

In any language, this is a terrible tragedy for the people of Virginia, the victims, the friends and family of victims, those uninjured survivors who are traumatized by the incident.

The Governor’s site and other related sites are currently experiencing technical difficulties. This substitute page will remain up for as long as necessary, so continue to check back for other Governor’s Office news relating to the Virginia Tech shootings.

We hope full service will be restored sometime today or tomorrow.

The fire storm of news media interest has turned this Virginian tragedy into an international story, resulting in heavy Internet and telephone traffic as relatives and friends of Virginia Tech students desperately attempt to find out if these students are safe or victims. The official website of the Governor has suffered a very high hit rate and been replaced by a temporary information page.

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One outside broadcast van is not a problem but dozens of crews can rapidly block access roads and cause chaos

As with any major news media event, there are already claims that journalists and camera crews have made life more difficult for the essential services who have been attempting to contain and control the incident. If there are any surviving gunmen, news coverage may allow their lawyers to exploit concerns for a fair trial, to the advantage of their clients.

Media activity is making a grave local situation even worse and interest is likely to continue for many days.

It may be at least a week after the incident before really reliable information becomes available. Currently there is confusion as to whether a lone gunman was responsible or whether a number of gunmen were involved. That one gunman has been reported killed does not mean the incident is at an end, until it is certain that no other gunmen were involved. The cause of the reported death of a gunman is still unclear. It could have been suicide, or a result of police action.

There are some claims that a sniper has been operating in the area for several days before the incident. Another claim suggests more than one sniper

As yet the trigger for the incident is unknown. It may be several weeks before police investigation is able to establish the probable trigger.

Already, free news space is devoted to the opinions of those who seek to ban guns, even though they do not have any solid facts about this specific tragedy.

Fortunately, incidents of this type are very rare. In most cases, the perpetrators prove to be people suffering from some form of mental disorder. In almost every case, there have been few advanced warnings that the perpetrators were about to engage in mass killing.

A terrible tragedy is often made even worse because politicians rush to judgment and pass defective legislation. The whimp’s charter is ‘gun control’.

The danger is that emotion will triumph over careful review and decision making. If this happens, the new legislation will fail to reduce risk in the future.

The simple act of banning anything is politically satisfying because it is easy to do, can be done quickly, captures the fading news media interest and makes politicians look good for a few days until the next media passion emerges.

The worrying factor is that when legislators pass new restrictions on gun ownership, gun crime doubles. So far, no one has managed to identify why this should be the case, but it is a statistical fact.

Gun owners may suggest that it is a result of honest citizens being denied the right to defend themselves against armed criminals. Some psycologists suggest that continued media interest and legislative activity makes the ownership of illegal guns fashionable amongst some violent elements of society. Anti-gun campaigners claim that it only demonstrates the need for even more draconian laws. Those in favour of capital punishment claim that these situations only happen because perpetrators know they will not be caught, convicted and executed.

The reality is infinitely more complex.

The British experience is that gun control never achieves its intended objectives.

iragunmen

Controls were first introduced in Britain to deny weapons to the Irish Republican Army. This objective failed miserably and the IRA experienced no difficulty in raiding British Government police and army armouries for weapons, or using money raised, mainly in the United States, to buy more sophisticated weapons on the international arms market. As a terrorist organization, the IRA were also able to draw supplies from other terror organizations and States that sponsored terrorism as a political tool.

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Britain now has the most draconian gun laws in the world and yet is experiencing a huge rise in gun crime. There is also a rapid rise in knife crime and the real causes of both escalations may be linked, or even the same.

OlympicShooting

Legislation has now reached the point where although Britain was eager to bring an Olympic Games to London, British Olympic competitors in several events now have to travel abroad to practice with target firearms. The British Government has said that it will bend the laws to allow a full Olympic programme to take place in London and to allow British competitors to bring their guns into the country for the competition. However, this places British competitors at a great disadvantage in highly competitive events where daily practice is necessary. It also means that current target competitors will eventually pass beyond the age of effective competition and not be replaced, because younger potential competitors have been denied access to recognized international sporting competition.

Denying Britons the right to engage in recognized sporting activity has in no way made British streets safer and has had absolutely no impact on the rising tide of gun crime.

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The banners in Britain have moved their focus to attempting to persuade politicians to ban toy guns, replica guns and deactivated guns. There have been incidents where panic and hysteria has resulted in armed police teams being sent to arrest eight year old children playing cowboys and indians with toy guns.

Tombstone courthouse gallows

Those wishing to see a re-introduction of capital punishment are keen to point out that murder, in its various forms, has been rapidly increasing ever since Britain abolished hanging. Certainly, there are many documented accounts of how criminals searched each other, before going off to commit a crime, to make sure that none of them were carrying guns of any kind – simply in fear of being convicted and hanged as a result of one gang member fatally shooting someone.

It may be true that a reduction in the tariff of sanctions for killings reduces fear of consequences, although most killings continue to be a result of the perpetrator losing control, rather than carrying out a premeditated killing. In Britain it is as likely that the rise in crime generally, and killings in particular, are a result of the politicisation of the police services under the Blair/Brown regime and the increasing belief that police are too busy filling in forms to prove they have met Government targets, achieving ‘diversity’ and other goals that have nothing to do with thief-taking.

There are many well-documented accounts of how some social groups of young people treat guns as fashion accessories and enhance ‘street cred’ by carrying weapons of all kinds. These weapons are already illegal and banning them has had absolutely no impact on their use in crime, other than to perhaps provide some encouragement because there is increased ‘street cred’ from doing anything illegal.

A civilized society is one that respects individual freedom but requires social responsibility. When a terrible incident occurs, as in Virginia this week, society owes it to the victims to look carefully at the incident, learn lessons, and react responsibly and proportionately rather than reacting emotionally.

IJB

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