Sadly, it seems the specter of the continuing breakdown of a civil society has touched the lives of faculty and students at Northern Illinois University. As most of you may know by now, at least five students are dead along with the perpetrator. A twenty something year old white male opened fire in a campus auditorium. initial reports state he fired upwards of twenty times, and is alleged to have had both a shot gun and pistol (of some sort) on his person.
My heart goes out to all who were injured, may their (physical and emotional) wounds be light and heal quickly. For those who lost family and or friends on this Valentine’s Day, you have my sincerest condolences.
This was not something which should be (or so it would seem) an ever increasing occurrence. We are supposed to be a civilized society, a nation, a people ruled by law. And so we (collectively) wonder why, why is this happening. What is generating the kind of mindset which causes people to take out their pain their anger/rage, perhaps even their vengeance, on the innocent.
We have gun laws. There are literally thousands of them “on the books” at the local, state, and federal level. Some were written with the best of intent, others written for nothing more then to either make the authors of same “feel good” or to actively seek to control the access, availability, or sale of same to the general public. In most cases, a number of existing laws are not actively (or routinely) enforced. And some, are on the face of it plainly unconstitutional. But the sad fact is they either are not working or are unworkable.
We have “Gun Free Zones”. The idealists who see guns (at best) as tools of wanton destruction and death, with no redeeming social or moral value, and at worst feel they are “just plain evil”, see the total banning of firearms from any given area (school, mall, city
of Chicago) as the perfect solution. If people don’t have guns or access to same, then we will be safe. Our LEO’s will take care of any concerns. Virginia Tech, Eastside Mall, and now NIJ victims would beg to differ with you, if they still had the breath of life in themselves to do so.
And to be strictly fair to NIU, they do not in any of their literature state they are a “Gun Free Zone” in the strictest sense of that phrase. Indeed, their policy is as follows:
3-1.5 Dangerous Weapons:
1.5a Possession, use, sale, or distribution in any residence hall, building, or grounds under university control of: fireworks, firearms, shotguns, rifles,
hand guns, switchblade knives, any type of ammunition, explosives, and all other serious weapons.
1.5b Misuse of martial arts weaponry, BB guns, pellet guns, clubs, knives, and all other serious weapons.
Students who wish to bring firearms to the campus must obtain written permission from the chief security officer of the university. Firearms must
be stored at the University Security Office except with written permission of the chief security officer of the university. At no time will any of the
above dangerous weapons be allowed in the university residence halls.
The Student Code of Conduct
Northern Illinois University
(Effective August 8, 2006)
So no, by strict definitions, it is not a gun free zone. But by design it may just as well have been.
Is there one perfect solution to all this? No, there is not. We are human after all and there will never be a “one size fits all” cure for our all too numerous ailments of our imperfect human nature. However, I will leave you with this:
“One difference between savagery and civilization is a little courtesy. There’s no telling what a lot of courtesy would do.” – Cullen Hightower
and temper the above with this, of equal importance:
“An armed society is a polite society.” – Robert A. Heinlein
The first quote is true enough. There are far too many savages, their numbers steadily increasing (here and abroad). Courtesy (and manners) seem to be dying, the precursor to our civilizations demise. The second quote, well were that in place, would go a long way in reviving both of those. Most importantly it very well may have allowed the students and faculty of NIU to have had a typically quiet and unremarkable Valentine’s Day, and for some, to have lived to see the morrow.