Cho’s Chains and Klebold’s Correspondence Still Matter

Written by Donald Joy on April 10, 2013

MH900390186I know I’m not the only one who remembers how, almost exactly 6 years ago at Virginia Tech, mass-murderer Seung-Hui Cho chained and padlocked the doors to an academic building shut.  

That was so that he could effectively trap his numerous (32 killed and 23 wounded) , defenseless victims inside – except for the handful who managed to breach and exit second story windows, suffering injuries from falling to the ground – and to keep the responding police outside for long, crucial minutes while he conducted his murderous rampage. 

Cho knew he’d face no armed opponent once he had his prey locked inside the building with him.  A legislative effort to overturn the ban on concealed-carry on campus had failed the previous year.  

Furthermore, Cho had shot and killed two people on the other side of campus earlier that morning, resulting in the focus and resources of those who might otherwise thwart him being diverted away from his bigger plan, while he got everything ready. 

Why can’t anyone in the gun rights camp at least bring up how relevant Cho’s strategy and tactics are to the debate over so-called “gun-free zones” when they go on TV, and when our opponents start badly twisting the narrative?    

It all has to do with how Cho, and more recently others like him, have taken pains to prepare their killing fields, especially in relation to others (good guys) who may, or are known to, have guns.  This aspect goes to the heart of why ordinary citizens must be armed in public areas.  The relative propinquity of armed police or security, despite the claims of many on the side of increased gun control, does not obviate certain places being referred to as “gun-free zones” according to applicable bans on open and concealed carry for regular citizens.

For example, during a “Guns in America” town hall-style debate just this past January on CNN, Piers Morgan segued into one phase of discussion by inviting the Tea Party News Network’s feisty female news director Scotty Hughes (whose brother was shot and killed when they were children) to expound on why she asserts that banning citizens from carrying guns in public places like schools, malls, and theaters leads to more gun murders, because then only the bad guy has firepower.

Hughes and her fellow pro-gun rights panel member, Fordham Law School professor Nicholas Johnson, handled themselves somewhat well, but really missed the chance to aggressively and adequately counter the nonsense being sprayed by the disgustingly stubborn Morgan and others.  

As on other occasions where anti-gun activists have hijacked the terms of the debate, Morgan decided that because there was an armed guard at Columbine High School, and because there is a campus police force at Virginia Tech, they weren’t “gun-free zones” – never mind the gun bans in place for regular citizens!  

Nobody saw fit to jump on Morgan for that.  But in a different CNN segment with another interviewer last week, John Lott (economist and author of More Guns, Less Crime) did see fit to point out that the armed security staff at Virginia tech amounted to one officer for every 80 acres of campus area.

Oh yes, and Morgan erroneously, belligerently declared that Ft. Hood (ostensibly because it is a military base) is “probably the most heavily armed and secure place in America” — problem with that is, almost no one is allowed to actually be armed on post, and civilian police had to be summoned from off-base to take down the shooter, diversity ambassador Nidal Hasan, with firepower.  I’ve seen others on the Left make such bogus claims.

Morgan, of course, had begun by trying to preemptively derail the engine of Hughes’ argument (her argument of course being that open-carry and concealed-carry environments, where murderers might face armed opposition, do deter would-be mass shooters at least to some extent).  Starting in with a false premise, Morgan scoffed contemptuously, saying shooters don’t actually care whether they operate in a “gun-free zone” or not, because they plan on dying in the process anyway, and so the possibility of a citizen wielding countervailing force against them isn’t a factor in where – a guns-banned or guns-permitted area – they choose to kill.  

But there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that some mass killers go to great lengths to minimize the chances that they’ll be stopped before they achieve maximum killing, choosing their venues according to that aim, and taking measures to keep guns in the hands of good guys out of the equation as much as possible.  By their actions, they tell us that it does matter whether their carefully-laid plans are going to be interrupted prematurely by an armed would-be victim or bystander.  Clearly, mass shooters tend to avoid places where lots of armed people exist; they simply want to have time to carry out their plan as much as possible, until they are shot or shoot themselves.

Morgan conveniently and spuriously dismissed the likelihood that Aurora, Colorado theater shooter James Holmes chose the only movie theater in his area where “gun-free zone” signs were posted, among several other theaters (some closer to his apartment) that were also showing the midnight premier of the latest Batman movie. 

Like Adam Lanza and Seung-Hui Cho, Holmes was so meticulous and strategic in planning out his spree that he rigged his apartment with elaborately booby-trapped explosive devices, which were intended to be detonated while he was about to get underway with his shooting rampage, so as to pull police away from the scene where he wanted to be free to inflict the most carnage – the theater.  

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Following his service in the United State Air Force, Donald Joy earned a bachelor of science in business administration from SUNY while serving in the army national guard. As a special deputy U.S. marshal, Don was on the protection detail for Attorney General John Ashcroft following the attacks of 9/11. He lives in the D.C. suburbs of Northern Virginia with his wife and son.