What the Washington Times of Tuesday, 17 April, aptly headlined as the “Massacre at Virginia Tech” is a tragedy that should—that must—teach this country a number of serious lessons.
First, that all so-called “gun-free zones” are exceedingly dangerous places. For all “gun-free zones” amount to “self-defense prohibition zones” for honest citizens, and therefore “free-fire zones” for psychopaths, “terrorists,” and other homicidal criminals. If common sense did not, certainly the experiences documented by researchers such as John Lott confirm that the less “gun free” an area is (in terms of firearms in the immediate possession of honest citizens ready and willing to use them), the less violent crime occurs there.
Virginia Tech has long been a “gun-free zone” for the purposes of its students’ self-defense. In the name of preventing violence, the university has prohibited every student with a Virginia license to carry a concealed firearm from doing so on campus. Surely debatable is whether such a regulation is even legal—given that such a license is a Virginia statutory right of any individual who qualifies for it (and, I should argue, a constitutional right as well) that no mere administrative body has any authority to deny. Beyond dispute is that events have written in blood just how disastrously that idea worked on Monday, 16 April 2007: Apparently everyone among the student body obeyed the edict, except the killer. The regulation perhaps disarmed students who might otherwise have legally been carrying a firearm with which they could have stopped the killer in his tracks. And the police, who were armed and on the campus, proved ineffective, because they were not on the scene. (continued)