Another Virginia Shooting

Like everyone else, I suppose, I’ve been reading with horror the news of the shooting at Virginia Tech. It’s my wife’s grandfather’s alma mater, and somehow that distant connection makes it feel even more real. My condolences for the families of the victims.

Virginia has an awful history of university shootings. In 2002, three people – including the Dean of Law – were shot and killed at Appalachian School of Law. Like today’s shooting, that one involved handguns. According to Wikipedia, Virginia law doesn’t require a licence to carry a handgun. Here’s the NRA’s summary of Virginia’s gun laws. About the only thing they ban is concealed carry, and owning a machine gun.

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10 Responses to Another Virginia Shooting

  1. Patrick says:

    Ironically, the actual campus was gun-free, meaning that the only person for about a mile radius capable of shooting the shooter was the shooter himself.

    Tragically, as it turned out, he wasn’t his own priority target. He probably would have been any other gun-wielder’s priority target at that time.

  2. Walker says:

    There are about 3,500 deaths due to cars each year in the UK (6 per 100,000) and about 42,000 in the US (16 per 100,000 – about 3 times the rate as gun deaths). Since this story broke more people have died in car accidents in the US than were killed at Virginia Tech. It is estimated that about 1.2m people a year die in car accidents world-wide. Since it was invented more people have died in car accidents than all the wars of the 20 century combined. Makes you think.

  3. Jason Soon says:

    Guns are basically only useful as a means of protecting you against other gun wielders. It’s a zero sum game. Cars are intrinsically useful.

  4. Tom says:

    I think this incident is so Cliche of American Culture. This will again start the discussion on gun control and the huge number of guns on US streets. This Love of Americans for Guns will be incomprehensible to the rest of the world.

  5. Pingback: CoreEcon » Blog Archive » Guns and police

  6. conrad says:

    “Guns are basically only useful as a means of protecting you against other gun wielders”

    What about shooting and threatening others? Thats probably got some use to some people (including some legal ones, like security). In addition, if you happen to be a young male of low IQ, its probably a cheaper way of impressing your low IQ friends than a fast car.

  7. Patrick says:

    That’s a pretty big call Walker. I recall close to 10 million soldiers alone dying in WWI, I imagine a similar number in WWII, so lets just say 20 million for the century and leave it at that.

    Are you sure of that figure?

  8. derrida derider says:

    About the only thing [Virginian laws] ban is concealed carry, and owning a machine gun

    I bet even now the RWDB blog sites are full of people saying “if only one of those dead students had been allowed to carry a concealed machine gun …”

  9. conrad says:

    DD: I’d be interested to know what the real statistics are for gun crimes for the following scenarios. One is where you stop gun ownership via social pressure (only dickheads have guns) or inconvenience in ownership. Australia has both of these. These sorts of countries tend to have low gun related deaths (although I presume a fair bit of substitution is going given that most gun deaths are people shooting their wifes/kids/other relatives). The other is in gun crazy places like the US, where there are guns floating about everywhere. Maybe some of the RWDB sites have a point with this — perhaps you do have less gun crime when everybody starts carrying them than when only some proportion do (Imagine a function that looks a bit like a parabola). I’d be interested to know whether this is true. I’ve seen data from Texas suggestive of this, but I’d wouldn’t go out of my way to trust any of that.

  10. Andrew Leigh says:

    Conrad, the multiple equilibrium theory seems plausible, but I don’t think the evidence supports it. The best paper on the guns & crime relationship in the US – published in the Journal of Political Economy – is this one:

    More Guns, More Crime
    Mark Duggan
    This paper examines the relationship between gun ownership and crime. Previous research has suffered from a lack of reliable data on gun ownership. I exploit a unique data set to reliably estimate annual rates of gun ownership at both the state and the county levels during the past two decades. My findings demonstrate that changes in gun ownership are significantly positively related to changes in the homicide rate, with this relationship driven almost entirely by an impact of gun ownership on murders in which a gun is used. The effect of gun ownership on all other crime categories is much less marked. Recent reductions in the fraction of households owning a gun can explain one-third of the differential decline in gun homicides relative to nongun homicides since 1993.

    Sure, there are other papers out there. But I’m pretty sure they’re not in the JPE.

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