I’m back in California for another week of training, and on the drive from the airport to the office I heard the news about the Virginia Tech massacre. It’s now, apparently officially, the deadliest mass-shooting incident in America’s history. And, of course, the two sides of the gun-control argument are dragging out their unfortunately well-worn canards:
Today’s shooting at Virginia Tech–the largest mass shooting in U.S. history–is only the latest in a continuing series over the past two decades. These tragedies are the inevitable result of the ease with which the firepower necessary to slaughter dozens of innocents can be obtained. We allow virtually anyone the means to turn almost any venue into a battlefield. In the wake of these shootings, too many routinely search for any reason for the tragedy except for the most obvious–the easy access to increasingly lethal firearms that make mass killings possible.” – The Violence Policy Center
“Eight years ago this week, the young people in Littleton, Colorado suffered a horrible attack at Columbine High School, and almost exactly six months ago, five young people were killed at an Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania. Since these killings, we’ve done nothing as a country to end gun violence in our schools and communities. If anything, we’ve made it easier to access powerful weapons.
– The Brady Campaign
“When will we learn that being defenseless is a bad defense,” asked Larry Pratt, Executive Director of Gun Owners of America?
“All the school shootings that have ended abruptly in the last ten years were stopped because a law-abiding citizen — a potential victim — had a gun,” Pratt said.
“The latest school shooting demands an immediate end to the gun-free zone law which leaves the nation’s schools at the mercy of madmen. It is irresponsibly dangerous to tell citizens that they may not have guns at schools. The Virginia Tech shooting shows that killers have no concern about a gun ban when murder is in their hearts. – Gun Owners of America
I’m sure tomorrow the legacy media will be full of hand-wringing op-eds about the “availability of guns” and “the number of firearms” being the cause of mass murder.
But I’m not going to talk about that here. I’ve done it before, in depth, and repeatedly. What I want to talk about here is “magical thinking.” In some way, it’s related to the last couple of pieces Bill Whittle has written over at Eject3. In this case, though, it’s about the magical thinking that comes from a belief in a right to be free from fear.
The GOA blurb mentioned (and Kim also linked to) a story about how the Virginia legislature killed a bill that would have allowed concealed-carry permit holders to carry their firearms on college campuses. Ironically, that story quoted a spokesman from Virginia Tech:
Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker was happy to hear the bill was defeated. “I’m sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly’s actions because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus.”
It may have.
But does Mr. Hincker “feel safe” now? (He’s going to be hearing those words a lot in the near future. I hope he has the stomach for it.)
Conditions haven’t changed. The Virginia Tech campus, like the majority of campuses across the country, was a “gun free” zone – a space regulated and marked with signs so as to help people feel safe. After all, it’s their right, no?
Diane Feinstein is famous for her quote,
Banning guns addresses a fundamental right of all Americans to feel safe.
For Diane, it’s not just a right, it’s a fundamental right – apparently one of those the Ninth Amendment is supposed to protect. (Never mind the Second Amendment that quite obviously guarantees a right to arms….) Rob Smith once said,
Why is it that the more imaginary “rights” people invent, the less personal freedom I have?
Nevertheless, this “right to feel safe” has a lot of support. A quick Google of the term brings up over 31,000 hits. Here’s a quick sample:
The City of Madison, Wisconson says that “Our Children Have the Right to Feel Safe All the Time!”
The Child Rights Information Network agrees.
The Sexual Assault and Trauma Resource Center says it too (though in my humble opinion they ought to be the most likely to understand the falsity of that promise.)
You get the idea.
The disconnect here is that while these groups and individuals all state unequivocally that every individual has a “right” to feel safe, they all ignore the elephant in the room:
There is no “right” to BE safe.
And if there is no right to be safe, then a “right” to feel safe is no right at all. It’s just feel-good wordplay – wordplay that helps people avoid thinking about reality. It’s the equivalent of plugging ones ears and repeating “I can’t hear you!”
And today’s massacre at Virginia Tech proved it once again.
But the truly pernicious part of a belief in a “right to feel safe” is that the said “right” is granted to us by an outside entity. Someone or something else is responsible for that feeling of safety. In the case of Virginia Tech, they provided that “feeling of safety” by prohibiting firearms on campus. It was their responsibility to make sure people didn’t bring firearms into buildings. In fact, they had, according to the Roanoke Times story “disciplined” a student for bringing a firearm to class in violation of the policy.
I wonder what the penalty for today’s shooter will be?
Believing in a “right to feel safe” means that you are not responsible for your own safety. You can’t be – you’re not qualified. If you’re injured, it can’t be your own fault – after all, you have a “right to feel safe!” If that right is violated, it can’t be violated by you, so someone else must be at fault. It follows logically, does it not?
What else follows logically from a belief that “everyone has the right to feel safe all the time?”
And finally, advice from the State on how to be a good victim when someone inevitably violates your “right to feel safe.”
To hell with that. Once again, Kim du Toit has said it well:
I don’t just want gun rights… I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance….I want the whole bloody thing.
And fat chance.
UPDATE: Mark Steyn elucidates.
UPDATE II: I note Jack “Asshole” Cluth has linked to this piece. Since my comments there have a tendency to not appear, I thought I’d post it here just in case:
Jack! How nice to know you still visit!
And still distort the facts. “…how many calls from the gun lobby (and frankly, from gun nuts) have insisted that the tragedy in Blacksburg could have prevented. IF ONLY EVERYONE WAS PERMITTED- NAY, REQUIRED- TO ARM THEMSELVES, THIS TRAGEDY COULD HAVE BEEN PREVENTED!!”
That’s funny – nobody I’ve read has said that. Mitigated, possibly. Prevented, no.
In fact, in the comments to the piece you Trackback to, I said:
“I do not now, nor ever have I advocated ‘a pistol on every hip.’ In a free society, people get to choose, and most people (when free to choose) choose not to. That’s OK. But if 1% of the population on the campus of Virginia Tech had been armed, the death toll might have been lower.
“No matter what, it wouldn’t have been zero.”
Keep it up, Jack. We need more examples like you out there.