Reaction to VT Massacre: Plain Dealer gets it wrong...again

The Cleveland Plain Dealer is at it again. The headline warns "In Ohio, it's really easy to buy a gun". But the 'facts' (as per usual when it comes to this newspaper's coverage of gun-related news) are worth examining.

Commentary by Buckeye Firearms Association Legislative Chair Ken Hanson in crimson type.

    In Ohio, it's really easy to buy a gun (It is also really easy to buy crack cocaine, child pornography and stolen/counterfeit electronics. We should pass laws banning these things.)
    Wednesday, April 18, 2007
    Terry Oblander
    Plain Dealer Reporter

    Virginia Tech gunman Seung-Hui Cho bought his Glock 9mm handgun easily in Virginia. In Ohio, it would have been even easier. It is debatable whether this statement is factually true. In several ways, it is much harder in Ohio than in Virginia. Ohio has disqualifications for minor misdemeanors, and is the only state to have such, to my knowledge. Further, I have personally had clients who had to get the Virginia Concealed Carry License because they could not get Ohio’s.

    In Ohio, he wouldn't have faced the local criminal background check that Virginia requires. As the NICS check already checks local records, why should we duplicate that process? Nor would he be restricted to just one handgun purchase a month. Not that it mattered in Virginia, the Goblin waited over a month to buy the two handguns. So what is the use of a one-gun-a-month law?

Again, from the Plain Dealer:

    And Virginia police can keep handgun sale records for up to one year. Ohio forbids police from keeping such records. I will be glad to reserve my final judgment on this statement until I see your source, however I’m inclined to call Mr. Oblander a liar. Many jurisdictions in Ohio have “purchase permits” and “owner ID cards” that they keep on file indefinitely. Further, police in jurisdictions that do not have local laws would have no cause to have records on sales, so I sincerely doubt they are prohibited from keeping records that don’t exist to begin with.

    Virginia gun buyers undergo two background checks - a local one the state requires and the federally required check with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System that Ohio requires. As I read the article, I am still awaiting the significance of a local check when NICS already checks local records. This is starting to sound very Dan Rather-ish. (Important questions remain unanswered, Mr. Oblander.)

    The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence gave both Virginia and Ohio low grades in 2005 when it rated states on handgun issues. Virginia got a C-minus on its report card. Ohio got a D-minus. At the same time, gun rights groups gave Ohio miserable grades for having among the most absurd and restrictive laws in the nation. I’ve seen Brady’s card on Ohio, it is legally inaccurate. Conclusively so. For instance, their report card ranks Ohio as “No” for “May Police maintain gun sale records.” As stated previously, there are no records to maintain. They also ranked Ohio as “No” for “Are Minors prohibited from possessing guns” and “Are there limitations on assault weapons.” Yes, in fact we do on both. It’s in the Revised Code.

    "The key thing that we have seen in all of these school shootings is easy access to high firepower weapons," Daniel Vice, an attorney with the campaign, told the AP. "These killings can't be done with baseball bats and knives." Eagerly looking forward to comments from pro-gun groups, Mr. Oblander. Perhaps it would help prevent the complete factual fabrications contained in your article if you consulted both sides.

    Cho walked into a Roanoke gun shop five weeks ago, put down a credit card and walked out with a Glock 19 handgun and a box of ammunition, the Associated Press reported. He paid $571. Gosh, what about the vaunted local record check you talked about earlier? Surely there was something in the local records check, or am I missing the significance of your emphasis on the local records check.

    The Glock was one of two guns found with Cho's fingerprints after he killed 32 people and then himself Monday. Cho also had a Walther .22-caliber handgun. Purchased one month apart to thwart one gun a month rationing. Isn’t it relevant to the story that the goblin thwarted the one-gun-per-month law, since you mentioned Ohio doesn’t have this critical measure?

    Roanoke Firearms owner John Markell said his shop sold the Glock to Cho in March. The serial number had been scratched off, but federal agents traced it to the store using a receipt found in Cho's backpack. What, the police records maintained for over a year didn’t solve this one? So what role do the retained sales records play in this shooting? Important questions remain unanswered…

    Law enforcement officials said Cho's legal status in this country did not prohibit him from buying a gun, the AP reported. Cho, 23, was born in South Korea and moved to the United States in 1992. He held a green card and was a legal, permanent resident of the United States. Someone who is able to spend his entire life legally in the United States should enjoy all the other rights but firearm ownership? Would you be singing a different tune if we restricted the First Amendment rights of permanent immigrants to, say, write inaccurate news stories?

    Virginia limits handgun sales to one a month to avoid gun trafficking. Medina County Sheriff Neil Hassinger said that while Ohio doesn't limit the number of weapons purchased, federally licensed gun dealers will report on large weapons sales because they do not want to run afoul of gun trafficking laws. Actually they are required by Federal law to report multiple handgun purchases to the ATF on ATF form 3310.4, which they maintain. Yet another factually inaccuracy that could have been avoided.

This website has documented a long history of provably, factually inaccurate or even false Cleveland Plain Dealer reporting on gun issues, and they appear in no way ready to improve their track record.

However, although it is far too early to tell the long-term social effects of the weeks' events, signs from national media coverage in the early going point to a much different public attitude on the question of how massacres like the Virginia Tech shooting can be prevented in the future. Perhaps most surprisingly, the typically anti-gun media has, unlike the Plain Dealer story above, actually presented both sides of the story in the early going, noting that Virginia Tech is a 'no guns zone' and quoting from gun rights advocates as well as from their traditional rolodex of gun ban extremists.

Following are some of the things being said as coverage of the VT Massacre continues.

Reid warns against rush on gun control
After the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D-NV] cautioned Tuesday against a "rush to judgment" on stricter gun control. A leading House supporter of restrictions on firearms conceded passage of legislation would be difficult. ...Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y. [said] "It is a tough sell" to pass gun control legislation. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-C.A.., held a brief meeting on the subject to discuss possible legislation, including a proposal for an instant background check for gun purchasers. But there was no apparent eagerness by Reid, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-MD., or her to predict Democrats would lead a drive to toughen existing laws. ...One senior Democrat, Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, said gun rights advocates are simply too influential to allow a tightening of gun control laws. "It's a regional thing, it's a cultural thing," Rangel said. ...Sen. Larry Craig, R-ID, one of Congress' most persistent advocates of gun rights, noted that the student who police say was the shooter at Virginia Tech had brought a weapon onto campus in violation of restrictions. He said he doubted a law could be passed that would protect "any of us when somebody who is mentally deranged decides to do this."

Cho's Madness - The Virginia Tech massacre, guns and pop sociology
...There is no connection between recent mass murder events and gun restrictions. As Quebec economist Pierre Lemieux noted yesterday, "Mass killings were rare when guns were easily available, while they have been increasing as guns have become more controlled." The 1996 murders in the Scottish town of Dunblane--17 killed--occurred despite far more restrictive gun laws than America's. ...The result is that mass murderers know where they can commit their crimes.

'Gun-Free Zones'
The bucolic campus of Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, Va., would seem to have little in common with the Trolley Square shopping mall in Salt Lake City. Yet both share an important characteristic, common to the site of almost every other notorious mass murder in recent years: They are "gun-free zones."

VA. Tech Tragedy Revives Gun Controversy
"We had gun control at the school, and we had 33 people killed. Was that not enough? Do we need to kill more before people realize gun control doesn't work?" said Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a gun-rights advocacy group that backed legislation to rescind Virginia Tech's gun ban.

Shooting will resurrect gun control debate
The VT shooting could have had a drastically lower death toll, if laws were not written in a manner that prevented law abiding citizens from carrying firearms to certain locations. Virginia, like Ohio, has laws that allow lawful citizens to carry loaded firearms. But also like Ohio, Virginia puts restrictions on where people can carry their weapons. Unfortunately for the people on the campus of VT, public and private universities are on the list of places that law abiding citizens cannot carry a weapon. ...Shootings are always a tragedy no matter what the outcome, but massacres like the VT shooting could have had a much different outcome if someone was only carrying a firearm that day. This incident should be a wake-up call to both our state and federal government when they are crafting the gun laws of our nation. Tighter gun control laws only keep guns out of the hands of responsible gun owners; criminals will continue to possess gun and use them in crimes regard less of the law.

Democrat stands by law he pushed to carry firearms
A Nicholasville legislator who championed Kentucky's "concealed carry" law for weapons contends people might be safer on university campuses if they were allowed to carry firearms. "Virginia Tech's prohibition took away the right of everyone else to protect themselves against a deranged gunman," said State Rep. Bob Damron, a Democrat. "I have a son at UK, and I would personally feel safe, in fact I would probably feel better, if they permitted people to carry weapons legally."

Pure Horserace: Gun Control To The Front?
Democrats could have more to risk in the long term by advocating too much gun control. Al Gore's inability to convince gun owners on the issue is one of the issues widely seen to have cost him a chance to win close states like West Virginia and Arkansas in 2000. Despite his combat experience, John Kerry struggled to demonstrate a kinship with hunters in 2004. Remember that goose "hunt" in Ohio?

Shootings At Va. Tech Sparks Gun Debate
Suzanna Hupp, a former Texas state representative and concealed weapon advocate, saw her parents gunned down at Luby's Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, in 1991 when George Hennard killed 23 people and wounded 20 others before taking his own life. "It amazes me that our politicians don't get the fact that these mass shootings only occur in places where guns aren't allowed," said Hupp, who spoke via satellite from Austin, Texas. "They occur in gun-free zones. Think about it. Columbine, he mentioned — post offices, day care centers, other schools, universities. Why are we removing my teachers' right to protect themselves and the children that are in their care?"

Why the Gun Lobby Usually Wins
...Calls for new gun control measures after the Virginia Tech shootings are likely to face a difficult path on Capitol Hill -- even with Democrats now in charge. ...In fact, the 2006 midterm elections actually may have enhanced the NRA's strength.

Could Greater Gun Rights Have Limited Virginia Shooting?
In spite of Virginia's simple process for obtaining a permit to carry a concealed firearm and the commonwealth's tolerance for open-carry of firearms, Virginia Tech forbids "unauthorized possession, storage or control of firearms and weapons on university property." ...The German newspaper Bild wrote that Americans "will probably begin discussing the overly lax gun laws in the United States. There, buying a machine gun is often easier than getting a driver's license." But Bild editorial writers noted that "despite strict gun legislation, we [in Germany] have experienced the school shootings in Erfurt and Emsdetten." In 2002, a gunman killed 17 people and himself at a school in Erfurt. And last November, a teenager injured dozens of people at a school in Emsdetten before taking his own life.

How to Prevent the Next Massacre
Just last year the Virginia legislature killed a bill to enable those with concealed carry permits to keep their guns with them at schools. Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker said then: "I'm sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly's actions because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus." I hope those words are haunting Hincker today.

Drive-By Media Template Agenda: Blame America, 2nd Amendment
Last week, the First Amendment was under assault. This week, the Second Amendment is under assault. The media templates have been set in stone. They started last night, yesterday afternoon even, in regards to this massacre at Virginia Tech, before anything was known, before any of the facts were known. ...It has been utterly predictable and it has been utterly fascinating at the same time, to watch the Drive-By Media coverage of this massacre. Some people are calling it a "tragedy." I'm even having a problem with calling it a tragedy. A tragedy is a tornado or a hurricane running you down. This is an act of pure evil. This is an act of pure evil on the part of one person that has nothing to do with "American society." It has nothing to do with anybody else who was not involved, and yet the media template is etched in stone here. ...He had two pistols, one of which he bought back in March or April. He had a vest filled with ammunition, and somehow some kind of gun control law was going to stop him from killing these people. That, frankly, is absurd, and I urge all of you to resist the groupthink that has been part of this.

Gun lobby prepares for battle over rights
With the Democratic threat tamed, the most pressing concern for many gun rights activists is the race for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, the three leading candidates, have all supported varying degrees of gun control, making the NRA nervous that its gains during the Bush years could be squandered by a Republican successor.

Tragedy Will Not Decide Gun Control Debate
The American Civil Liberties Union, despite calling itself neutral on gun control, eloquently puts the case for gun control, arguing that “the Second Amendment does not guarantee an individual’s right to own bazookas, missiles, or nuclear warheads, yet these, like rifles, pistols and even sub-machineguns, are arms”. It believes that the Constitution does not prohibit “reasonable regulation of gun ownership”, and the level of that regulation is for Congress to decide.

Why Democrats Dumped Gun Control
"We've gone backwards in a lot of areas," says Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. "In effect, the only real gun law we've got on the books now is the Brady background checks."

Va. Tech shooting inspires first legislation
In reaction to the Virginia Tech shooting spree, a Louisiana state lawmaker and higher education officials plan to unveil legislation Wednesday (April 18) to make clear that the state’s public universities can ban guns in student dorm rooms.

The Gun Ban and the Gunman
If some students and faculty members had access to guns during the attack, there's a good chance they could have cut it short. According to witnesses, the killer—identified by police as Cho Seung-Hui, a senior studying English—took his time and paused repeatedly for a minute or so to reload.

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