I was thinking about the predictable response of the gun lobby what happened at Virginia Tech. The argument goes roughly like this: Nothing terrible will happen so long as law-abiding gun owners are packing heat.
Leaving aside the question of whether that makes Iraq or Afghanistan the world’s safest society by this logic, we have a problem with this premise. One of the few things that we do know about the shooter in this case is that he was a resident alien in the US on a student visa. Since I’m pretty sure that a felony is probably one of the easier ways to get such a visa revoked, up until two days ago, this individual was most likely a “law-abiding gun owner.”
But what if there were other law abiding gun owners that didn’t all go bonkers on the same day that this guy did? Well, it’s one thing to own a gun, it’s another to know how to use it. Sure you might go to a target range every week, but shooting a human being is not the same as shooting a paper target. For another gun owner to stop this sort of assault they need to be prepared to use deadly force.
Now maybe you’re thinking that yeah, you could kill if it was to stop a murderous rampage, but are you ready to die? You’d be risking your life here too.
So, the profile of the sort of person who ought to be armed to prevent this (other than off-duty cops or soldiers – two special cases where I’d say specific training makes them effective) is the type that can use a firearm in a dynamic real-world environment, is not squeamish about killing, and has a disregard for his or her own life.
What’s the profile of a school shooter again?