Seung-Hui Cho engaged in a similarly indiscriminate rampage on April 16, 2007 at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, VA. As a senior at the school, he killed 32 people, wounded 17, and then committed suicide in two attacks launched two hours apart. Cho left a suicide note and sent a package to NBC News with an 1,800 page manifesto, photos, and videos sharing his motivations, such as a hate for his wealthier peers.
Mental illness played a part in both instances, and these are just two incidents among other tragedies of recent years including the Aurora, Colorado and Sandy Hook shootings. Although Rodgers and Cho were able to hide the extent of their instability from authorities, their illnesses were known. A member of Rodger’s family called the police concerning his behavior and videos, but the police found him to be “polite and courteous.” Cho was diagnosed with a severe anxiety disorder, but in a meeting with a counselor he denied having homicidal thoughts.
Despite the mental health concerns, both men purchased and kept guns legally. Gun laws that require background checks to disqualify individuals with mental illness from buying and keeping guns may prevent another disaster, which is why some states have tightened laws. However, background checks face opposition from gun rights advocates who fear any gun control law will lead to the government taking away all guns. Considering the right to bear arms is thoroughly enshrined in the Constitution’s second amendment, and well-supported by Supreme Court decisions, a discussion of gun control legislation should be understood as working within the context of gun rights and not an attempt to eviscerate them.
The strong opposition from gun rights supporters may hold the line for only so long. When enough massacres affect enough people, a tipping point could be reached in which an actual movement to repeal the Second Amendment gains traction. Effective gun control legislation that minimizes the number of mass shootings will strengthen the position of gun enthusiasts; without mass shootings, there is less of a catalyst for a discussion of taking away all guns.
What measures should be enacted to reduce the likelihood of future mass shootings while still protecting gun rights? Leave a comment.