Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“I consider Paine our greatest political thinker. As we have not advanced, and perhaps never shall advance, beyond the Declaration and Constitution, so Paine has had no successors who extended his principles.”     Thomas Alva Edison

April 17, 2007

Europeans On The Virginia Tech Tragedy: It’s Charlton Heston’s Fault

by Doug Mataconis

Proving that it’s not just American political pundits who are capable of saying incredibly stupid things in reaction to a tragedy, newspapers all over Europe are blaming America’s gun laws for the murder of 32 innocent people:

With a view to Monday’s deadly shooting rampage at Virginia Tech, European newspapers are blaming the lack of gun control measures in the United States and implying that Charlton Heston is indirectly responsible for the scope of the killings.

Across the continent on Tuesday, European media rubber-neck at Monday’s massacre in the United States. Most seem to agree about one thing: The shooting at Virginia Tech is the result of America’s woeful lack of serious gun control laws. In the strongest editorialized image of the day, German cable news broadcaster NTV flashed an image of the former head of the National Rifle Association, the US gun lobby: In other words, blame rifle-wielding Charlton Heston for the 33 dead.

Papers reserve their sharpest criticism for the 2004 expiration of a 10-year ban on semi-automatic weapons under the then Republican-controlled Congress. Others comment on the pro-gun lobbying activities of Heston’s NRA. Some papers also draw analogies between school shootings and Muslim fundamentalist suicide bombers.

The last time I checked, the man who was pulling the triggers yesterday morning was Cho Seung-Hui, a 23 year old Korean immigrant, not the 82 year-old former star of Planet of the Apes. It was Cho who made the choice to pull the triggers, to chain the doors of the lecture hall so nobody could escape, and to shoot them at point blank range. He, and only he, is ultimately responsible for what happened yesterday. Blaming this tragedy on the gun laws, or even more absurdly on an actor/political activist is, quite simply, absurd.

Of course, this is Europe we’re talking about.

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15 Comments

  1. Some of the european reaction was even more absurd, claiming that “the next killer” or something to that effect was already waiting for his time to kill. Europeans need to pull their heads out of their asses. Plus: the person who did this wasn’t even american.

    Comment by david — April 17, 2007 @ 7:01 pm
  2. Nevermind that the biggest mass murderer in history is the state. But lets trust them with the guns anyway, eh?

    Being unarmed in the face of a random psychopath is bad. Being unarmed in the face of a tyrannical state is stupid beyond words.

    Comment by tkc — April 17, 2007 @ 7:05 pm
  3. Expect the same from the liberals here in America. Some just don’t get it, banning guns from law abiding citizens will leave just the criminals with guns. And trust me even in Europe the police can’t be there to protect you. Europe lost it’s balls years ago, except for the English who’s are sagging. I won’t even comment on the French. They like being taken care of, that’s why their economy is doing so well.

    Comment by Leatherneck — April 17, 2007 @ 7:05 pm
  4. tkc,

    Being unarmed in the face of a tyrannical state is stupid beyond words.

    When has a European since the 19th century been a lover of liberty or accused of being smart?

    Comment by Kevin — April 17, 2007 @ 7:32 pm
  5. Ahh, to live in the peaceful utopia that is Europe…

    Now WHO WANTS TO TORCH SOME CARS?!

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — April 17, 2007 @ 7:33 pm
  6. Mullah Cimoc say ameiki security apparatus moving so fast for full nazification of usa. alienation of males in western society this leading to mass killings.

    govt involved so obvious- bush him loving too much this publicity for sympathy? this looking like setup for bolster bush him police state.

    this also signaling aggressive using the media thoe democrat party and lesbian for push hilary campaign and pushing the mind sets necessary for the dumb white people vote for the hilary woman. in pashtu language “hilhary” meaning cow with the fat lower leg drip the pus. this a kind of joke in waziristan.

    Comment by Mullah Cimoc — April 17, 2007 @ 7:43 pm
  7. I’ll be waiting for Europe to ban Soccer matches.

    Comment by AT QB — April 17, 2007 @ 7:54 pm
  8. I wonder who does the research for the european press. There was never an asault weapons ban. They just put restrictions on the new manufacture and import of certain asualt weapons and magazines. But you could still buy the ones that were already here, or weapons that were modified such as no flash suppressor or a thumbhole stock. Like that would have stopped an idiot like this from commiting this atrocity. What would have stopped him is an armed student with one well placed round center mass. One of the greatest proponents of gun control passed strict laws banning firearms ownership in 1939 and his name was Hitler!!! And the result was 6 million innocent killed not just 32. GOD BLESS

    Comment by 3/75 RANGER — April 17, 2007 @ 8:15 pm
  9. Ahh, to live in the peaceful utopia that is Europe…

    Now WHO WANTS TO TORCH SOME CARS?!

    Carbeque at my place in Paris this weekend. The local Muslims youths will be providing the gasoline and matches, the Parisians will be providing the cars.

    Comment by Kevin — April 17, 2007 @ 8:55 pm
  10. You are so liberal. I demand the right to air support. What if my asian neighbour bought himself a tank for Christmas? Everyone in America should have the right to their own W.M.D’s. Then we would finally be safe.

    Comment by paul — April 18, 2007 @ 12:14 am
  11. Interestingly, one of your readers makes the point that Cho was not an American. Not by birth, but it would appear by education in American values. He availed himself of the right to bear arms, guaranteed by his green card status and the US Constitution. He bore those arms on innocent people who were in a place of learning, and were not expecting that day to come face to face with a depressed, isolated young man who had been able, at an earlier date, without supervision or investigation, to walk in and purchase hand guns at a store. Another reader says if you take away the right to buy arms then only the criminals will have guns. If you look at countries with stricter gun control laws, you will see that incidents of gun deaths are lower. (In fact even in countries without stricter gun laws which is a more interesting fact) The criminals have a harder time getting guns as well as the regular law abiding citizens. Moreover, the point is somewhat lost that, until last week, Cho was not a criminal. He was, in effect, just a regular guy who walked into a shop and bought a gun. But, then in possession of guns, legally obtained, his mental problems manifested themselves in a desire to cause harm to others. Would he have been so successful if he had carried out the attacks with a knife or a lump of wood, or had he been required to obtain a gun by illicit means. By all accounts he was a loner, with poor communication skills. One wonders whether he would have been able to negotiate an illegal purchase of a firearm and so much ammunition. He came from a country with a low record of gun death and ended up one of America’s worst mass killers. Did he learn that in Korea ( so many people like to point out he was not “American”)or did he become the person we know now by virtue of his assimilation of American culture and values. Surely that is a question worth asking before more Americans are killed in similar circumstances. Finally, I constantly wonder why we are seeing so many instances of mass murder preceding a suicide. Why is there a culture developing in America, where people want to harm others when they feel the need to harm themselves.

    Comment by Alan — April 22, 2007 @ 10:59 am
  12. Since 1968 there have been precisely 100 violent mass murders committed with a firearm in the United States. Although the media and the left would love to make this a much bigger deal than it is, that is it. The fact is, more murders are committed without a firearm than with one in this country, year in and year out. If, somehow, miraculously, a full firearm ban and repeal of the 2nd amendment did away with all law abiding and criminal persons in the US having firearms, the large majority of murders would still occur. And some significant percentage of crimes committed with firearms would be committed with some other tool.

    The issue is not the tool, it is the user. By the way, violent crime has decreased significantly in the US since 1993, even though the gun controls have been dramatically eased over the same period and firearm ownership has increased by large numbers. Interesting statistic.

    Comment by Adam Selene — April 22, 2007 @ 3:00 pm
  13. Precisely 100 mass murders using a firearm since 1968 equates to roughly 2.5 per year. Can you honestly say that is a satisfactory statistic. Read the statistics in the following website. Its a little scary. I accept the USA is not the worst but read between the lines and perhaps, take with a grain of salt the statistics in some countries where it is accepted there is a lawless element to society. Or at least put it this way, I wouldn’t use those other high statistic countries to justify the situation in the US. http://www.guncite.com/gun_control_gcgvintl.html

    A good example would be referring to the statistics for say Australia and the US. Similar cultural values on a whole. A country with a large agricultural population where guns are a necessary tool on large cattle stations etc. Now look at total violent death. Australia is not that far behind the U.S. per 100,000 of population. However, of those violent deaths, homicide rates are three times higher in the U.S. and the rates of homicide using a firearm are over 8.5 times higher in the U.S. Suicide rates are almost identical, but those using a firearm are again 3 times higher. So more guns in the hands of suicidal people is one thing to take note of. Given last weeks events, you may like to look at the rates in South Korea in terms of homicide. Perhaps if Cho still lived there he would still have killed himself, but perhaps not wanted to kill everyone else around him. US ranks 13th in terms of total violent death but in terms of firearm homicide they are beaten only by Estonia, Brazil and Mexico and of the remaining countries on the list only Northern Ireland has a higher firearm homicide rate. Brazil, Mexico and N.Ireland. I dont know much about Estonia so I can’t comment on their rates but I can think of the rationale behind the other 3 but not the U.S. I accept these are old statistics but it makes for interesting reading. Also Britain seems quite tame in comparison (although I accept things may have worsened there in recent years) Israel is also interesting as people walk around in the street openly with guns there. But the firearm homicide rates are still much lower and total homicides are lower. Obviously figures can be twisted to suit many theories but they still tell some sort of tale, surely. I guess the good news is U.S. citizens are only half as suicidal. Bad luck if you start getting suicidal immigrants from around the world though who then have access to guns. Of the countries where the stats are available, the US has the highest gun ownership per household. Hmmmmmm

    Comment by Alan — April 24, 2007 @ 12:10 pm
  14. Also the general statistics in the US are interesting if you read between the lines. Excerpts from the following web site. http://www.benbest.com/lifeext/murder.html#world

    The most commonly cited reason for homicide is argument (including arguments about money & property under the influence of alcohol or narcotics). One third of all homicides in 1997 were triggered by arguments. Felony (rape, theft, narcotics, etc. ) accounted for a fifth of homicides and gang killings accounted for one twentieth. About a third were of unknown motive and the other 10% were miscellaneous motives.

    By 2004 victims were about three times as likely to be in the 18-24 age group as in the 14-17 or 35-49 age group and about twice as likely to be in the 25-34 age group. The murder rates are lowest for the above 50 and below 14 age groups and the victimization rates for those age groups (although much higher than the murder rates) are the lowest for any age groups.

    Saturday was the most popular day-of-the-week to be murdered, followed by Friday. Murder rates are higher in the afternoon than in the morning, but are highest at night — climbing steadily from 6 pm, peaking at 11 pm and declining thereafter.

    Reading between the lines you could say, alcohol influences arguments and homicides increase as the day wears on into the night. Perhaps people have been drinking, get into an argument the kill someone. Now, if the combatants are drunk would you rather they have access to a gun or a knife or blunt instrument. Also note the young age groups. Young kids, drunk, impressionable. Access to high powered weapons probably aint such a good thing. Let em duke it out with their fists rather than picking up that gun they bought in case they had to join a militia and protect themselves from the government.

    Comment by Alan — April 24, 2007 @ 12:33 pm
  15. In 1997, firearms were used in 68% of murders (10,369 cases), and sharp instruments in
    13% (1,963). 65 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty in the same year,
    16% higher than the total in 1996, but still 17% lower than the figure a decade ago. Of
    the 688 officers killed in the line of duty over the past decade (1988-1997), firearms were
    used in 92% of cases.

    Comment by Alan — April 24, 2007 @ 1:02 pm

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