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April 22, 2007

Virginia Tech And The Failure Of Gun Control Laws

by Doug Mataconis

As it turns out, under currently existing Federal gun control laws, Cho Sueng-Hui should never have been allowed to buy a gun at all:

WASHINGTON, April 20 – Under federal law, the Virginia Tech gunman Seung-Hui Cho should have been prohibited from buying a gun after a Virginia court declared him to be a danger to himself in late 2005 and sent him for psychiatric treatment, a state official and several legal experts said Friday.

Federal law prohibits anyone who has been “adjudicated as a mental defective,” as well as those who have been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility, from buying a gun.

The special justice’s order in late 2005 that directed Mr. Cho to seek outpatient treatment and declared him to be mentally ill and an imminent danger to himself fits the federal criteria and should have immediately disqualified him, said Richard J. Bonnie, chairman of the Supreme Court of Virginia’s Commission on Mental Health Law Reform.

A spokesman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also said that if Mr. Cho had been found mentally defective by a court, he should have been denied the right to purchase a gun.

The federal law defines adjudication as a mental defective to include “determination by a court, board, commission or other lawful authority” that as a result of mental illness, the person is a “danger to himself or others.”

So, instead of this being a debate over America’s allegedly lax gun control laws, what it really turns out to be is an example of a premise that is made clear on the streets of America every day. Gun control laws do nothing to disarm criminals or people, such as Cho, intent on committing criminal acts. All they do is disarm innocent civilians who are denied the means to protect themselves.

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8 Comments

  1. From what I have heard, when doing the background check for a gun, only 17 states have mental health background checks too. Virginia was one of them. I found this in a New York Times article (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/19/us/19weapons.html?ref=us) as to why this was probably not in Cho’s record:
    “A magistrate ordered that Mr. Cho be evaluated at Carilion Saint Albans Behavioral Health Center on Dec. 13, 2005, after two women who were students complained about his behavior. The next day, a special justice approved outpatient treatment for Mr. Cho and he was free to go, which may explain why no red flags were raised by the state’s background check system when he bought the weapons this year”.

    “A guy like that probably shouldn’t have been able to buy a gun,” said Mike McHugh, president of the Virginia Gun Owners Coalition. “But my point is, that’s not going to stop a guy like this.”

    Maybe not, but had he been looked after properly when it came to his mental health, who knows.

    So at first glance it would appear that he HAD to receive treatment, but it turns out that it was pretty much up to Cho to get it done. And of course, no one followed up with him to see if he was seeking treatment.

    Comment by Aimee — April 22, 2007 @ 5:50 pm
  2. The VA Tech tragedy……..

    In the US in 2005, there were aboutt 30,000 killins with guns. About a thousand were legit police shootings, and 100 legit self defense. This leaves 29000 people murdered criminally or accidentally.

    Now we have the gun lobby, the NRA, whom Bush supported with a bill exempting them from liability. It is important to recognize that the NRA’s support for legitimate hunters, ranches, and other people like that is a smokescreen. What they really are is the political lobbying group of the merchants of death in this country.

    In England in 2006, there were 84 gun murders. The problem here is handguns, not legit hunters. In England it is almost impossible to own a pistol. The results show.

    Every one of those VA Tech graves should have the statement “murdered for corporate profits and protected by the right to life people of the Bush Administration”.

    For those who say everyone should be armed, what do they want – 300,000 murders a year. Every fistfight, every drunk altercation, every family having a gun and so many kept insecurely. Maybe I should own a B52 and some bombs. The right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, but there should be full conspiracy based ‘before the fact’ guilt for every single person who has had anything at all to do with that gun getting into the killers hands. Hunters, etc – a federal permit, required training course including recurrent training (like pilots need), federal safety features, etc.

    Comment by SteveMD2 — April 24, 2007 @ 10:45 pm
  3. Steve, last time I checked the Second Amendment didn’t say “A well regulated group of hunters, being necessary to the stomach of a free nation, the right of the people to keep and bear hunting rifles and shotguns shall not be infringed.”

    The right to bear arms means the right to bear arms. Period. If you want to ban guns in this country “except for hunting guns,” amend the Constitution. Speaking of hunting guns vs. those big black nasty rifles, according to a somewhat liberal interpretation of the new recreation of the ’94 “assault weapons” ban, almost all semi-automatic hunting shotguns and rifles could be banned because the comb on their stock “functions as a grip.”

    As for your “full conspiracy based guilt” for gun crimes, I assume that you would be willing to apply the same standard to car crimes, yes? After all, if a dealer sells someone a car who is known to drink and the drinker then kills someone with a DUI, isn’t that dealer legally responsible according to your standard? Cars do kill so many more people than guns, after all.

    Oh wait, I forgot. Cars don’t kill people. Neither do guns.

    Comment by mike — April 24, 2007 @ 11:30 pm
  4. Mike,

    Don’t forget to add in all the other things people use to kill each other. Imagine what our country would have been like if after Lizzie Borden, axes were banned. We don’t allow butter knives in prison because criminals could use them on each other so we definately should ban those from all homes as well where children could get them.

    Perhaps SteveMD2 would really like to follow his logic all the way through. Then again, if he did, he wouldn’t be using a computer because sitting at a computer means not exercising, thus leading to heart disease and other obesity-related health risks. Guess we better ban those as well.

    Comment by trumpetbob15 — April 24, 2007 @ 11:36 pm
  5. I consider posts like the one SteveM2 wrote above to make a very persuasive case for anarchy or, at a bare minimum, against representative democracy.

    The man who makes that argument should not be given political power over anyone other than himself. George Bush, for all his faults, had nothing to do with this. Guns aren’t permitted to “protect” corporate profits. Gun manufacturers are no more guilty of the misuse of the tools they make than ax-makers, baseball-bat makers or automakers.

    I’m reconciled to the continued existence of such illogical and bizarre political views. There will always be people who blame everything on George Bush, or the Jews, or Illegal Immigrants, or Italians, or Atheists, or Evangelical Christians, or Pornographers, or Violent Videogame Makers, or Homosexuals, or Homophobes. It’s when the people who have these crazy ideas gain political power over their fellows that I tremble.

    Comment by tarran — April 25, 2007 @ 6:55 am
  6. Steve:

    What they really are is the political lobbying group of the merchants of death in this country.

    and

    murdered for corporate profits and protected by the right to life people of the Bush Administration

    The socialist and communist meme is alive and well. Sentences like this are straight out of their playbook.

    Comment by Adam Selene — April 25, 2007 @ 9:48 am
  7. You know, it’s funny that SteveMD2 calls out the NRA. Considering that there is a bit of a argument going on amongst members and other gun owners as to the function of the NRA. Evil Black Rifle (EBR) owners feel that the NRA does not do enough for them. After all, they let the AWB of ’94 get passed. They did get the sunset clause in there, but lots of EBR owners feel that wasn’t enough. They want the NRA to go on the offensive and lobby for more repeals. On the other hand, there are plenty of NRA members who feel the same way as SteveMD2. It’s one of the things the gun movement weaker than it could be.

    Nick

    Comment by Nick M. — April 25, 2007 @ 10:01 am
  8. Steve

    “In the US in 2005, there were aboutt 30,000 killins with guns. About a thousand were legit police shootings, and 100 legit self defense. This leaves 29000 people murdered criminally or accidentally.”

    That’s a fun statistic, where did you get it from. And all this tells me is MORE citizens need guns, because, the ONE MAJOR point you didn’t point out was who committed the other 29,000 killings. Law-abiding conceal and carry permit holders who just got a little ticked off, or criminals who could care less about whether the law lets them have a gun or not? I would say…. the latter.

    Take the guns away from the law-abiders, and all you have left with guns are the law-breakers.

    Comment by Joel — April 28, 2007 @ 10:43 am

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