The grisly shootings at Fort Hood, Texas this last Thursday which took the lives of 13 soldiers rightly conjure up feelings of outrage, disgust, sympathy and sadness. The significance of this event also raises a burning question for our current political discourse, and perhaps the need for reexamination.
After the similarly horrifying shootings at Virginia Tech which took the lives of 32 people on April 16, 2007, gun rights critics argued that firearms are far too prevalent in American culture and far to easy to procure, and thus, the only remedy for our gun-crazy country is stricter controls. Gun rights supporters on the other hand argued that there weren’t enough guns; the creation of a “safe zone” on campus ensured that no other students would be armed and able to stop the massacre—that a “gun free zone would create a guaranteed defenseless victim zone” (Bozeman Daily Chronicle, “MSU sticks to their guns on firearms,” Gail Schonzler, 12/5/07).
My thought then, is whether these recent developments at Fort Hood shed some light on this debate. A shooter starts firing on a heavily armed army base, taking down 13 before finally being incapacitated. Here, it seems, we have an instance of precisely what gun-proponents argue for—a heavily armed and non-defenseless victim zone, but does their argument hold? How is it possible for one shooter to able to take out 13 well-trained soldiers? How can the pro-gun camp maintain their position, that if there were only more armed students at Virginia Tech, the massacre would have been avoided, when one shooter was able to kill 13 armed soldiers, in the “Soldier Readi-ness Processing Center” no less (http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/editorial/6709211.html)?
I readily admit that perhaps I am missing something crucial aspect in the pro-gun argument, and I invite anyone who holds this position to demonstrate why my reasoning is flawed. But I think if we owe these soldiers anything, it’s to reopen the gun-rights debate, and see if, with these recent events, one side has emerged stronger.