Under the gun

Now for the truth about the murderous rampage at Virginia Tech last week. We asked for it. We got what we deserve by virtue of our utterly insane gun laws. Our demented or cowardly politicians of both parties made it possible — make that certain — by being afraid to do anything other than kiss the asses of the National Rifle Association and the rest of the gun lobby.

"I hope there's not a rush to do anything," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat who is supposedly into yoga. "We need to take a deep breath." That's what passes for liberal leadership these days.

Harry knows he doesn't have to worry. Nobody is going to take any guns away from anybody. Virginia Tech will happen again and again and again.

The funniest story I have read since that day was The New York Times' discovery that our latest media star, Seung-Hui Cho, wasn't legally eligible to buy guns at all. Not because he wasn't a citizen, but because a Virginia court had found him to be insane, which he clearly was, and a danger to himself.

Federal law, weak as it is, makes it illegal to sell guns to people who, like our boy Cho, have been "adjudicated as a mental defective." The New York Times seemed shocked (shocked!) that he was able to buy a Glock, a Walther, and vast amounts of ammo anyway. But why should anyone be surprised?

Naturally, since all gun control legislation is structured to fail, there seems to be no requirement that Virginia let the feds or the gun shops know that Cho was a dangerous loon. Hell, nobody let the boy's roommate know. (If I were that guy's parents, I'd be off to see the Geoffrey Fieger of Virginia, right quick.)

Yes, there will be more killing. We're a country in which we think it is the God-given right of any fruitcake with a credit card to buy a killing machine. Or to put it in terms even a Republican can understand, a weapon of mass destruction. It won't be that long before some other mentally disturbed creature, probably a loser in his early 20s who is a total failure at relationships, will be pumping lead slugs into the skulls of small children.

The rest of the world thinks we are crazy. An editorial in a Scottish newspaper on Sunday noted, with barely disguised contempt, "the unquenchable American frontier spirit and the inalienable constitutional right to defend hearth and home with firearms."

Yes, the nation has been brainwashed into believing everybody has the right to a personal arsenal. Yet there is no such right at all.

The Rev. Harry Cook, a damned good journalist turned Episcopal priest, wrote the best essay on Virginia Tech I have seen, "The Right to Bear Arms." You can find it on his Web site (www.harrytcook.com). In a few pithy paragraphs, the priest demonstrates conclusively that the much-ballyhooed Second Amendment only applies to the states' rights to form militia units, i.e, the National Guard.

No, that is not a bizarre leftist notion. That was the opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court, in United States v. Miller (1939), an opinion written, as the Rev. Cook notes, "by one of the most conservative justices ever to sit on the high court," James McClark Reynolds.

Reynolds ruled in a case where someone claimed the Second Amendment gave him the right to take a double-barreled shotgun across state lines. Nonsense, Reynolds found. He went on to say that there is no constitutional right to any weapon that does not have "some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well-regulated militia."

"Guns outside the hands of military and police personnel are an obscenity," the Rev. Cook thunders, asking:

"Is there anyone of sound mind left ... who would not agree that the April 16 massacre in Virginia is a clear sign that the United States of America, its legislatures and its courts, must act now to curb the easy availability of firearms?"

That depends on what you mean by sound minds. What we mostly have are politicians who only care about winning. That's where Harry Reid is coming from. What he is really worried about is that some principled Democratic senator might call on Congress to do the right thing, bringing on the wrath of gun nuts, especially the National Rifle Association. Terry McAuliffe, the Clinton-era head of the Democratic Party, believed the cause of gun control was a loser.

He blamed the gun lobby for Al Gore's defeat and the Democrats losing control of Congress in 1994. Forget doing the right thing, he cautioned.

Both U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, whom McAuliffe is now working for, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi did just that last week. The only voice I could find raised on the side of sanity was that of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat.

"Shootings like these are enabled by the unparallel ease with which people procure weapons in this country," she said, calling for someone to "reignite the dormant effort to pass common-sense gun regulations."

Naturally, nothing will happen. Oh, if another pimply-faced loser shoots up a kindergarten this week, there may be some feeble effort to require states to provide gun stores with lists of known homicidal maniacs. Or maybe not.

Yet there was a winner in all this: Seung-Hui Cho. We gave him exactly what he wanted. We made him famous beyond his wildest dreams, a household word, an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records.

And we told everyone like him that this is the path to stardom. So what if you have no friends; you are filled with self-loathing; you don't know how to talk to girls? You can succeed beyond your wildest dreams at mass murder.

Yes, you may have to die. But you didn't have a life anyway, and now you can live on in every living room, just like Elvis, except better. Now, that is, that it has become clear that you can get your homemade video of your rants played on every nightly news by mailing it in after you've shot your first couple victims.

Two years from now, everyone will have forgotten the names of each of the talented professors and wonderful young students whose brains and hearts and lungs were blown out in their classrooms.

But America will remember Cho. You remember Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, don't you? Somewhere, there are other losers learning from this.

What is ironic is that Seung-Hui Cho reportedly felt he didn't fit in to American society. He was an immigrant. He apparently spoke with an accent when he was younger. He never really felt like one of us. Yet he is now, as H. Rap Brown once said of violence, as American as apple pie. Let's hope for a future in which, on this issue, we are seen as contemptible as we truly are.


Presidential update: Last week I promised the early line on the million Democrats running for president. That was before we were all reminded what our nation's gun policies can do for us, and I wanted to address that this week. But the Dems aren't going away, and I'll take them on soon.

Jack Lessenberry opines weekly for Metro Times. Contact him at [email protected]
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