I wondered when someone was going to bring up gun control yet again in light of the mass murder that took place at Virginia Tech. I now know the answer: today.
Robert Reich, former Clinton Secretary of Labor, made the move, calling for gun control to keep such a thing from ever happening again. And again, Reich and his fellow gun control advocates have got it exactly wrong.
Anti-depressants are enormously beneficial to millions of people, but they're also potentially dangerous if used improperly. So, you have to see a doctor and get an assessment before you can go to a drug store and purchase one.
But in the United States, in places like Virginia, a seriously depressed or deranged person can walk into a store and buy a semi-automatic handgun and a box of ammunition.
All you need is two forms of identification. You don't need permission from a doctor or counselor or anyone in the business of screening people to make sure they're fit to have a gun.
We can debate the relative benefits and dangers of anti-depressants and semi-automatic handguns, but if 30,000 Americans were killed each year by anti-depressants — as they are by handguns — it seems likely that anti-depressants would be even more strictly regulated.
So why aren't handguns?
I can answer that last sentence with three words: The Second Amendment.
Nowhere in the US Constitution does it state that the people have a right to unfettered access to anti-depressants. Nowhere. I've looked.
Next, of those 30,000 people killed by handguns, how many were criminals killed by their potential victims? How many of the others were killed by those wielding illegal firearms? How many were killed by a criminal using legal firearms? I'll bet that a majority of those murdered were killed by criminals carrying firearms they weren't legally allowed to carry and that many of those killed by them were themselves criminals. In my mind that 30,000 number is almost meaningless unless it's broken down into the individual categories. It's so easy to throw that number out there as if that's all that was needed.
Now let's take a look at another example of playing the moral equivalence card.
Look abroad and you have another useful point of contrast. In the United States, many people who are seriously depressed can't afford to see a doctor, let alone get a prescription. Unlike every other advanced nation, we do not provide universal health care, or ready access to mental health services.
But unlike every other advanced nation, we do allow just about anyone to buy a handgun.
Taking a look at the other nations that provide universal health care, I see no reason to go the same route. Every nation that has such a system has a health care system that has an artificial shortage of medical care, with waiting times for routine treatments or surgeries measured in months, not days or weeks as is the case here. Reich is not helping his argument by using this as a metric.
I see no problem with allowing “just about anyone to buy a handgun.” Frankly, it's one reason why our violent crime rate has been falling while countries that have very restrictive guns laws have been seeing their violent crime rates soar. The main reason for that is that potential victims have no means to protect themselves, making them easy prey for criminals. Thugs go after easy pickings. They won't go after someone capable of defending themselves.
If students and faculty had been allowed to carry concealed weapons on the Virginia Tech campus, 30 people might still be alive today. One armed citizen could have dropped Cho in his tracks and prevented the slaughter. But Reich and those that believe as he does will try to tell you otherwise.
Don't buy the lie.