Okay, so its pretty clear that the fights over gun control are going to go on whether we wish for them to or not. Instapundit and his ilk started in almost immediately with the “if they had more guns this might not have happened!”. To be fair, I am sure there are some gun control advocates who started in with the opposite argument almost immediately. Insty is nuts; having more people armed in a situation like that is a recipe for more innocent deaths, not less. Considering that no state requires people to go through training on how to deal with a random, chaotic, panic filled situation and how to identify legitimate targets in such situations, it is completely unreasonable to expect that armed students would have done anything other than add to the chaos and death. Life is not like a bad revenge fantasy movie. The deterrent argument is just as silly. The man who did this was broken. Sane people do not commit random massacres. You cannot deter someone who is that far gone, who has so abandoned his connection to humanity, to himself, to his loved ones that he would walk into a crowded place and open fire. The point at which such a person could be deterred from anything has long since passed.
A lot of the gun control arguments will probably turn out to be just as silly. Its far, far too late to bad guns in this country, even if we could. Besides, the weapon was probably purchased legally. The only gun control that would make sense would be some methodology for keeping people who are depressed/homicidal/etc from getting legal weapons and to require a psych exam on a regular basis to catch gun owners who have slipped into such a broken state. But I am not a psychiatrist, so I have no idea if that notion is practical.
At the end of the day this was an extraordinary event and as such it is a lousy template upon which to build policy or narratives. I understand the desire to, to some extent. People are hard wired to want to know, to understand why things happen. Insty is telling himself a fairy tale to make himself feel better, to allow himself to believe that what happened at VT fits into the neat, understandable world we all think we inhabit. It doesn’t and it cannot be made to. It wasn’t neat; it wasn’t understandable; it didn’t belong in the worlds we try and make for ourselves. It was horrific in part because it reminded us how fragile those worlds, those stories we tell ourselves about hard work and decency and rewards and the good life really are.
What happened yesterday has almost nothing to tell us about gun control, aside from a reminder that its a good idea to keep firearms away form the mentally and emotionally broken. No matter how we may wish otherwise, none of the fairy tales of deterrence or reprisal or prohibition can no more explain what went wrong yesterday than philosophers can define beauty. Stop trying to find that explanation. Let the living bury their dead in peace. The arguments don’t really have much to do with them, anyway.