Could More Gun Control Have Stopped VT Massacre? - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

4/18/07

Could More Gun Control Have Stopped VT Massacre?

Some simple paper work and a quick background check over the phone is all you need to buy a gun at the Shootist Knife and Gun Shop in Tyler and at countless other retailers around the state.

The Shootist owner, Mack Woods, says, "The background checks are good, and they're pretty much comprehensive.  The flaw that people on my side of the counter have pointed out for years is that there's no check at all regarding the persons mental health background."

Access to those kinds of records might have made a difference on Monday. Today, we learned Cho was treated for mental health issues after a judge ruled he might be dangerous.

Students in the Virginia Tech Gun Club say they might have stopped the shootings sooner if they were allowed to have their weapons on campus.

A student by the name of Greg says, "I would not have felt that I was a totally helpless victim at the mercy of this lunatic."

Concealed handguns have saved lives before. In Pearl, Mississippi in 1997, a 16 year-old gunman killed his mother, two students and wounded seven others. The assistant principal used his own pistol to hold the gunman until police arrived.

Then, in February of 2005, David Arroyo opened fire on the Smith County Courthouse. Mark Wilson, a licensed, concealed handgun owner was credited with saving lives by firing several rounds at the gunman. Unfortunately, the bullets didn't penetrate the Arroyo's bullet proof vest, and he ultimately killed Wilson and his estranged wife.

Tyler Police Chief Gary Swindle says, "Mark was a brave individual doing what he though was right at the time. We honor him with a name plaque on the square, and we believed he saved some lives."

Chief Swindle says stricter gun control laws are not the answer, because they only affect law abiding citizens.

"The felons, the drug dealers, the people who do have mental illness that are able to get a hold of the weapons; they're the ones that are going to violate the law no matter what. It doesn't stop them," says Swindle.

Smith County District Judge Carol Clarke agrees.

"Will controlling guns more make people's behavior better? The answer is no. There is no research that says it's the guns fault. It's not the guns fault. It's the person who's using the gun," says Clarke.

For gun control advocates, the ease with which the gunman was able to buy his weapon reveals the problem with current gun laws. Those who oppose stricter regulation say no law would have stopped the madman,  but a gun in the right hands might have.

Lindsay Wilcox/Reporting: lwilcox@kltv.com

 

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