Jacob Sullum

This difference remained even after Lott and Landes controlled for a variety of variables, such as population, poverty and arrest rates, that might be expected to affect violent crime. They also found that attacks in states with relatively liberal carry permit policies tended to be less lethal, presumably because they are more often stopped by armed bystanders.

In addition to illustrating the folly of gun-free zones, the Virginia Tech massacre shows the pointlessness of laws aimed at firearms that are said to be especially dangerous or especially useful to criminals. Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, responded to the Virginia Tech shootings by bemoaning "how easy it is for an individual to get powerful weapons in our country."

Cho used two handguns, a .22 and a 9mm, neither of them especially powerful or exotic. Contrary to the false promises of gun controllers, firearms cannot be neatly sorted into "good" and "evil" categories; any weapon that can be used for self-defense (or for hunting) also can be used to murder people. A gun's specific features matter even less if the victims are unarmed.

"We can't have an armed guard in front of every classroom every day of the year," Virginia Tech campus police chief Wendell Flinchum said after the shootings. Given the reality that police cannot be everywhere, it is unconscionable to disarm people who want to defend themselves.


Jacob Sullum

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine and a contributing columnist on Townhall.com.
 
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