Ryan Chartrand

In the past week, the Mustang Daily has outcried the Virginia Tech massacre, leading to a debate over gun control. We have heard the same tired arguments (gun control only makes it harder for law-abiding citizens to get guns) and the same trite rhetoric (guns do not kill people, people kill people) that have plagued the forum for years.

Great – I find myself thinking – Virgina Tech has been relegated to nothing more than another talking point in an endless debate. Even worse, the heart of the issue at Virginia Tech was not gun control. In fact, Cho Seung-Hui (the shooter at Virginia Tech) acquired both of his guns and the ammunition in accordance with Virgina state law. He observed the waiting periods; he passed the background checks; he was deemed a safe person to own a weapon.

Therein lies the real problem. Every major campus shooting in the United States (Columbine, Santana, Red Lake, etc) has been perpetrated by a social outcast. This is only aggravated by the depression (among other clinical disorders) suffered by these shooters. In Seung-Hui’s case, his issues were identified by teachers and deans based on his writing and behavior, but they were limited by United States “personal rights” laws. In this country, we cannot compel people to seek treatment, except by criminal proceeding. That means that even if someone is identified as a potential threat to themselves or others, they must commit a crime before anything can be done – in Seung-Hui’s case, the massacre at Virginia Tech.

We are not, however, helpless. As a friend of mine experienced while teaching high school, if you open yourself up to someone, you can affect change. Our best weapon against these violent outbursts is kindness and friendship (something I see in great supply at Cal Poly). More is accomplished by a single person who really understands and helps a troubled youth than any amount of law and politics could hope to achieve.

Michael Kosbie
English sophomore

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