Va. Tech and the N.H. primary
By The Dartmouth Editorial Board
Published on Friday, April 20, 2007
There is no easy answer to the question, What could have prevented the Virginia Tech massacre? Perhaps nothing could have been done. However, gun violence occurs every day across America and the ready availability of guns exacerbates the problem.
After Ali Abu Kamal shot and killed seven atop the Empire State Building 10 years ago, then-New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani called for Congress to "do more" in monitoring the ownership of guns in this country. It is unfortunate that it takes tragedies of these magnitudes to jumpstart conversation about gun control, but gun control has been an issue long before the events in Blacksburg or Columbine or New York City. It is our hope that the heinous acts of one man on one college campus will awaken college students at Dartmouth and across the country to force this issue to the forefront of the national political arena - and that it stays there.
It's easy to present statistics seemingly demonstrating that the presence of handguns either increases or decreases senseless deaths. One thing is for sure: The debate here hinges on safety and the prevention of violence - not the peripheral goals of hunters and the gun industry. Guns are an unfortunate part of the American tradition. No one can seriously suggest that arming students or classrooms would be valid measures to combat violence. The non-sporting arguments against gun control contend that citizens should have the right to have firearms in their home to protect against intruders. No reasonable individual thinks people should carry weapons around. A rational measure that could help prevent another Virginia Tech massacre would be the institution of more in-depth checks and restrictions on those who want to purchase guns.
As for the Dartmouth community, we are in a unique position. Every presidential candidate who is serious about winning the White House will be visiting Dartmouth in the coming months. When they come, we must force them to address gun control. Research candidates' positions. Ask pointed questions. In the wake of the Virginia Tech attack, Giuliani, like many of the candidates, is now hiding behind the Second Amendment, declining to talk about ways to make this country safer. Regardless of where each of us stands, we should make it our duty to put the spotlight on gun control and force the candidates to do so as well.