Mid-Life Ramblings; Sanity Optional

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

When people use guns to solve their problems

I'm still digesting what happened yesterday at Virginia Tech. I can't imagine how all those folks are going to get through this. They will have a lifetime of pain because of one person's decision to use a gun.

Today kids all over this country are being reminded by their school administrations that something like this could happen anywhere and that they need to be watchful.

I've been listening to Air America Radio for the past two days. They've been interviewing folks who think they have the solutions. Some have advocated tighter gun control while others have said that everyone should arm themselves in self-defense. Some have said that there should be more mental health opportunities for students while others have pointed out that you can't make someone get mental health help. Many have blamed movies, television, and video games for their violent influences. I'm not sure that anyone or anything could have prevented this tragedy.

I did call into the Rachel Madow Show yesterday afternoon and express my opinion on the subject of everyone arming themselves in self-defense. I spoke as a former law enforcement officer and pointed out two problems concerning this issue. First, I can attest to the fact that the decision on whether to use deadly force or not is a very hard one to make and yet most often has to be made in a split second. I have seen police officers hesitate or react too quickly and the results are often tragic. Police officers are given ongoing training on deadly force; average citizens are not. Someone carrying a gun for self-defense but not trained properly could create more chaos rather than help. Second, as a law enforcement officer arriving on the scene of a reported shooting, if I saw several people flashing guns how would I be able to determine who the actual shooter was? Again more chaos rather than help. Both of these problems could result in innocent people being shot.

The students, faculty, and staff of Virginia Tech are in my thoughts and prayers today. I wish you all peace.