Dragged by the wounded hearts of the Tech Families, the Senate will soon be hearing a bill to close the so-called “Gun Show Loophole” and will likely pass the measure on a wave of emotion. Such are the magical powers people who are unaccustomed to them assign to firearms.
The measure would require that sales of firearms that occur at Gun Shows include a NICS database search even if the sale would not require a check if it occurred in another venue. Even those supporting the measure acknowledge that the measure would have done nothing to prevent the carnage at Tech. Cho bought his guns from a licensed dealer and passed the background check.
Cho was not in the database even though he had committed disqualifying crimes by stalking two women at Tech. University Police talked the women out of pressing charges because they knew he was mentally ill.
So, the Senate will likely do what positively won’t work, but will likely ignore the two things that might have helped.
First, University police need to act like real police, not hall monitors, and report crimes against persons committed by the mentally ill to the Commonwealth’s Attorney for prosecution. It is very rare for mass shootings like Cho’s to be the first crime committed by a mass murderer. In nearly all mass shooting cases, the prepetrator has committed lesser crimes first and gotten a pass because of age or mental illness. Treating these crimes as crimes does not require changes in medical privacy laws or redefining what qualifies for involuntary commitment. All they have to do is enforce the existing laws and nutcases like Cho will be in the database. Is that too much to ask?
Secondly, University Presidents need to be reminded that they are not Czars with independent fiefdoms over which to rule. The General Assembly has already wisely determined that persons holding Concealed Handgun Permits are permitted to carry on State property, including Universities and Colleges. There are absolutely no examples of this policy resulting in harm to anyone, though it has been in place for decades. Yet students and staff of Tech and other Colleges and Universities are prohibited from exercising that right under pain of expulsion or firing under rules in place by edict from the Presidents. Exactly how did these unelected popinjays get the power to substitute their personal prejudices for the wisdom of the electorate as expressed by our elected representatives?
I will not make the claim many have that had these rules not been in place the outcome would have been different. We will never know. The social pressures against carrying a firearm are enormous and it is far from certain that an armed citizens would have been there even without those rules. But at least they would have had that choice.
One thing is certain, so long as we legislate based on emotion and pandering instead of experience and logic, tragedies like Tech and other mass shootings will continue.