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Washington Post


Gun Control Doesn't Fit This Crime

April 19, 2007

By James R. Copland

It didn’t take long for the European press, foreign and domestic politicians, and anti–gun lobbies to react to the horrific Virginia Tech massacre on Monday by condemning America’s “gun culture” and calling for new gun control laws. The reaction is predictable, but it simply doesn’t follow from the initial facts about this tragedy.

The tragedy at Virginia Tech shows yet again man’s capacity for evil and the dangers that the mentally imbalanced can inflict on the innocent in our modern society. But all the shooting shows about the gun control regulations passed in recent decades is that they matter little.

Waiting periods, designed to allow the angry to “cool off”? Here, Cho Seung Hui purchased one of the firearms in February and the other in March, cooling, waiting another month to execute his plan. Semi-automatic weapon bans? Here, the killer used mundane, traditional pistols, a 9-mm and .22-caliber. “Gun-free” school zones? If anything, Cho’s crime was made easier by the absence of anyone else comparably armed.

While gun control advocates may argue that a ban on all handguns could have prevented the murders, there’s little reason to believe that Cho could not have been equally deadly using long guns, like the high school killers at Columbine.

In the face of senseless tragedy, it’s understandable to look for answers. The Virginia Tech shooting may prompt universities to reevaluate their threat response procedures, and we might take a hard look at the law and regulations that inhibited Cho’s teachers from seeking more help for an obviously troubled young man. But gun control is a tired response that doesn’t fit this crime.

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