One of the things I have learned in life is that it's possible for two people to see the same fact, have opposing interpretations of what that fact means, and they're both equally correct.
This of course means that two sides can be equally wrong, and in this case, I do think both sides of the gun control/gun rights issue are wrong about their political agendas and Virginia Tech.
The root of this is that both sides see the gun as some kind of magic spell. The NRA view it as a spell that works by giving everyone guns. If everyone has guns, then we will have a safe society, and we will all be able to stop the government should it attempt to take away our rights. (Oddly, the NRA appears to be fine with the eroding of our civil rights over the last 6 years or so. I guess they only care about the 2nd Amendment. Everything else appears to be fair game) The other side views it as a magic spell that works by giving no one but law enforcement guns. If we don't have guns, then magically, we will have a safe society, and of course the government will act in our best interests. (Again, do they notice the world around them?)
Both sides are using their magic spell arguments to show how Virginia Tech could have been prevented or mitigated. Both arguments are bullshit, even Ted Nugent, who as a politician, is a kick-ass rocker.
On the Gun Control side, well, I think history has pretty much shown that fear of jail time or execution for the use of a gun in a crime only works if the perpetrator gives a rat's ass about such things. When the perpetrator is 'round the bend looney, ala Cho, well, I don't think Jail Time is an issue, and when they're planning on being a martyr, dying for their..."cause" is kind of the idea. Remember, legal threats only work on the sane. Really. I mean, we can't even get sane people to obey the easy laws, and you think a nutbar isn't going to kill people because a law says no?
The other side of it is, no matter where you live, if you want to, bad enough, you will get guns. Period. The NRA is a bit loony on a lot of things, but they are correct on this one. Banning guns will not keep criminals from getting them. Ask Eliot Ness how well Prohibition worked. Virginia Tech had clear rules about guns and weapons on campus. They worked only so far as people obeyed them. Cho didn't. The state of Virginia has clear rules about who can and cannot legally purchase weapons and ammunition. They only work so far as people obey them. Cho did. CouldaWouldaShoulda about "oh, if only they had committed him, he couldn't have bought the guns" is fantasy. If you want to kill lots of people bad enough, you will be able to figure out a way to do it.
Laws cannot stop someone determined to break them or too insane to care about the consequences. Stopping a martyr is nigh-impossible.
The NRA position that a completely armed society is a safe society is just as silly. First, people get angry. They lose control. Given my druthers, I'druther deal with knives than bullets. I have a theoretical chance to outrun or dodge a knife. Bullets, not so much. Guns are not, no matter what the NRA wants us to believe, a magic safety spell. They are, like cars, hard to use safely, and the finer points of their operation are somewhat counterintuitive. However, the problem is, while I have to display at least some knowledge of automobile operation to get a driver's license, any damned fool of age, and having a clean record can legally buy and own a rather frightening amount of firepower.
To their credit, the NRA offers safety classes at both the basic levels, and into advanced tactics. However, there's no continuing education requirement with guns, and this is something that both the NRA and the Nuge, god love him, are either overlooking or conveniently ignoring, and it relates to something that I happen to have some expertise in: the Self-Defense Class Myth.
The Self-Defense Class Myth goes something like this: You take a class in self-defense. Maybe an afternoon, maybe a few weeks. You learn useful things. Then you finish the class, maybe get a certificate and some punch, and in most cases, never, or rarely practice any of the actual physical defense parts again. You halt your training, because after all, you took the class. You're now able to defend yourself, right? I mean, that knowledge stays with you forever, right?
That class will, after six months without regular, near constant practice, be nothing but a faded memory. The only thing the class does is teach you what and how. Internalizing that, making it a part of yourself? That takes practice. Multiple days a week, forever. You have to devote mental and physical energy to it. If you don't, then when you do have to use it, you're in this "Wait, what do I do next mode" instead of having your nervous system reacting to the threat while your conscious brain is still figuring out what's going on. This is why effectively kicking a guy in the nuts is so hard. We've had it happen so much that we defend against it without conscious thought. We react before we realize what's happening. That's why guys are so good at defense against dick kicks. We don't have to think about it, we just move.
If you have to stop and recall a class or classes, then try to figure out what technique to use in what situation, you're screwed.
I am not saying this based on stuff I've read or people I know. This is personal experience. I've been an active student of the martial arts since 90-91. I've been a black belt since 2002 or so. I currently help teach a class near my home, and am working on my next degree of black belt. To get to where I am *today* required 271 techniques, 7 empty-handed forms, 2 weapons forms, and weapons sparring. I'm not even close to my next black belt. The only way I'm able to even correctly recall anything is to think about it every day. Go through it in my head every day. Physically practice it 3-5 times a week, 2-3 hours at a time.
Without that, I would not completely forget everything, but it's only because of that commitment that I remember anything. There are things that I will do without conscious thought, because I've been doing them for so long. (A few people who grabbed my arm in what appeared to be a hostile manner came real close to a rude awakening.) But were I to completely stop dealing with it? A few years, and I would not be much better off than when I first started.
Yet, the NRA and The Nuge act like the mere possession of guns by the entire contents of the students, faculty, and staff of VT would have prevented this or even mitigated this. Somehow, without the constant, regular urban combat training that police and other law enforcement receive, a building full of people would have all acted perfectly correctly and Cho would have been the only one they shot.
That's not a magic spell, that's a damned miracle.
See, I think it would have gone down like this. Cho kills the first two, and no one really knows what happened, so he gets away. Two hours later, he locks up Norris Hall, (remember, he chained the main entrances shut), and commences to killin'. Going by current data, around a bullet every three seconds.
People hear the shots and the screams, and grab their guns. You now have people running into the halls, armed, pumped so full of adrenalin they can barely breathe, looking for...someone with a gun.
I see him...
They'd have been lucky to get anyone out of there alive. Oh yeah, you have the cops responding to what sounds like a war zone. What do you think their response is going to be?
"Okay citizens, you did your job, good work" is not going to be what they do.
The one unstoppable problem is a lone nutjob who's quiet about things. Cho. Oswald. Whitman.
Hell, Whitman shows that an armed citizenry is not the guarantee of bad guy stopping the NRA wants it to be. There were average folks with guns, they did return fire, and it didn't do any good, because Whitman, while nuts, wasn't stupid. He was also trained in how to shoot people by some of the best in the business. The average folks? Not so much.
Even if they are trained, it's not so easy. For one, if it's 1 vs 300, then the 1 has a target rich environment. The 300? They have to spend a lot more time worrying about hitting the wrong people. That's another part of the regular training cops and other law enforcement types go through: how to not kill the wrong person. The Nuge may go through that training on a regular basis, the vast majority of gun owners? No way.
Had everyone in that building been armed, the odds are far better it would have been even more of a bloodbath, only worse, because there would have been too many of them dying from friendly fire. Explain that to a 19 year old kid, how they accidently shot an innocent.
What both sides want, what we all want, at a deep level is a simple answer. We want to distill a lifetime of slowly spiraling down a path of insanity and rage into a single thing that we can then fix. Both the gun control and NRA sides want this. So does everyone else. Hell, I want a simple answer to this. We want, we need to find the simple answer, to find that one thing that we could have done to stop it. But there isn't one, not one that's both simple and neat. There's no one simple thing that anyone could have done to stop this.
Neither stricter gun control laws, nor more guns would have stopped this, or even slowed it down much. When Cho pulled the trigger for the first time that morning, all bets were off, and the only thing that saved anyone was chance and blind luck.
Neither side will ever admit this, because they want to get their agenda pushed. But it's far closer to the truth than they want it to be. There are no magic spells, there is no Hogwarts. There's just this complicated mess we call life.