Gundamentalists: Talk to the armed law students

In the week following the Virginia Tech tragedy, I read articles in two daily newspapers and the Sunday New York Times about gun control in the United Kingdom and heard quotes from shooting victims at Columbine; Dunblane, Scotland; and the University of Texas.


I've read a dozen calls for more stringent gun control– a concept that I favor– and learned how much the National Rifle Association received in donations in February. 

What I haven't read, or heard on television either, is anything about the 2002 Appalachian Law School shootings– also in Virginia– where two students used their personal firearms to disarm a demented man who murdered three and wounded three.

Tracy Bridges and Mikhel Gross– who, oddly, given our violence-crazed "entertainment" media, would be faux heroes– have apparently not been approached by any mainstream news organization for their take on the murder of 32 innocents. Since it's possible that their actions may have prevented a Virginia Tech scenario, it seems a newsworthy decision to interview these men.

My wife tells me not to write anything about the issue because I will immediately be labeled an NRA gun nut who wants to take America back to the days of the Wild West. 

On Sunday I heard an Egyptian use the word "cowards" to describe Muslim businessmen who don't say loudly and clearly that they abhor the "gunadmentalists"– his term– who are warping their beloved religion. And as a former journalism and communications professor, I can't sit silent in a culture that, allegedly, promotes "freedom of speech."

Though you can't prove a negative, something is wrong with our news media coverage when intelligent, thoughtful human beings like my wife say, "Don't say anything." This conspiracy of silence, the stifling of truly "fair and balanced" coverage in our media, is the beginning of the end of democracy.

If our belief that "our way"– whatever that is– is the only way leads us to exclude other opinions, democracy will crumble. 

I don't think concealed carry permits are a good thing. I've never given a dime to the NRA or any pro-gun organization, and the only time I went hunting– killing three innocent quail in 1974– I realized that shooting was something I never wanted to do again.

But our First Amendment– those amazing 45 words that allow rappers to call women "ho's," lobbyists to spend unlimited sums of money, 30-second commercials to defame people who have made difficult decisions, anti-war activists to put on plays like Get Your War On– must apply to all voices.

The whole concept is messy– I hate the fact that my grandchildren can click on "" But– at least on the news side of media– there must be a "free marketplace of ideas" for truth to prevail. That's the theory behind the First Amendment.

We– those of us with the "right answer"– must remember the wisdom of Voltaire: "I disagree with everything you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it."

We must recognize the equivalent brilliance of Lord Acton: "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." We are not immune.

"Gun nuts" are not "gun nuts." They are people with an equally valid opinion about the right to bear arms. It's just that in our opinion, their opinion is wrong. 

We can, and should, look for the holes in their arguments. We should pick apart the writings of people like Dr. John Lott Jr., who argues that gun ownership decreases violence. 

But we must realize that this issue, like all issues facing America, is complex and difficult. Not simple. Not coverable in a minute and a half between commercials. Not approachable on a bumper sticker or t-shirt. We must demand full coverage from our allegedly "mainstream" news media.

I don't listen to, or like what I know of, Rush Limbaugh. Or Ann Coulter or Al Franken, for that matter. But those people make no pretense of being objective.

The Washington Post, the New York Times, the Charlottesville Daily Progress, the Associated Press, Newsweek, CNN, MSNBC– and I didn't listen at all to Fox– do. Yes, I could have missed the words of Tracy Bridges and Mikael Gross, who likely saved lives at the Appalachian Law School, but why should I have needed to search for them?

The law school in Grundy is three hours away from Blacksburg, two jet rides closer than Dunblane. The Grundy shooting was in this century. Both Bridges and Gross, as well as unarmed Ted Besen, who also helped apprehend the gunman, are still alive and living in the same time zone.

Every single news value indicates that Bridges and Gross should have a say in this discussion before anyone from Austin, Colorado, or Scotland.

"Democracy is the worst form of government," Winston Churchill once said, "except for all the others that have been tried."

Those of us who love it, I think, must stand up now. The "gundamentalists" are indeed out there.

Randy Salzman, a former communications professor, is a Charlottesville-based freelance writer.



Well, OF COURSE the media didn't utter a word about the heroes at Appalachian State. The folks who own the media have an agenda to brainwash the public into believing guns can only cause violence, and not prevent it. Reporting on this very relevant incident would be counterproductive. The "mainstream" media's job is not to give you the facts. Thier job is to manipulate your mind. NPR, for example, is no different than Fox News in this respect. They just present a different brand of propaganda for a different brand of gullible person. Mass murderers like Mao Tse Tung, Stalin, Hitler, and Mussolini all agree: Gun control works!!!!

I can think of a couple, rare shining moments in history when an armed civilian has come to the heroic rescue of his fellow citizens.

I can very easily think of thousands of equally innocent people who are killed every year by other armed civilians.

You can try beating the dead horse of the conspiratorial "liberal media" theory, but ultimately the media reports on violent gun crime because it's news to us. Generally those crimes are "spun" in the direction of the sad and unnecessary ills of society as we know it.

Perhaps you've accepted that a number of innocent people will inevitably be killed so that you can have your way? Your mass murderer list were also of that mindset.

Gun control only works if everybody plays by the rules. Street thugs and gangbangers don't play by the rules. This results in criminals being the only people who become armed because citizens don't want to deal with all the red tape involved to buy a weapon. If everybody was packing a little heat, you know there would be a moment of pause in thugs' heads that is presently there. A thug isn't as anxious to assault or rob a person if he knows it may result in a hole between his eyes.

Gun control only works if everybody plays by the rules. Street thugs and gangbangers don't play by the rules. This results in criminals being the only people who become armed because citizens don't want to deal with all the red tape involved to buy a weapon. If everybody was packing a little heat, you know there would be a moment of pause in thugs' heads that is not presently there. A thug isn't as anxious to assault or rob a person if he knows it may result in a hole between his eyes.

Yacht Captain, Jr., your comment lends credibility, if not proof, that the media doesn't report on instances where guns/gun ownership prevents violent crime, or enables those who are confronted with it to survive. Again, the mainstream media doesn't report on these instances, while they report every instance where an innocent people are killed by armed people (civilians is a military term for non-military people - unless you're in the military, the proper term would be "armed citizen"). How many of these innocent people who were killed by armed citizens would still be alive if they had chosen to (or been allowed to) exercise their right to keep and bear arms? Answer: too many. They want to take our guns because they (and by they, I mean the New World Order elite who go to Bilderberg meetings) have an agenda of population reduction. That's why we need guns - automatic rifles, preferably, as they have - to protect ourselves. They're not gonna try to initiate their plans to put us in concentration camps until they disarm enough of us to make it possible without getting shot themselves. That's why they are moving to disarm us. There are millions of us, and a few thousand of them. The fact that we (or many Americans) still have guns is the reason why you and I are still alive. Consider that, please.

Yacht Captain, Jr.,

Evidence collected by the DOJ under Bill Clinton indicated hundreds of thousands of defensive uses of firearms by citizens each year. Go look.

And despite his tin foil hat fitting a little tight, John G is correct that civilian is a term that means a person governed by civil law, as opposed to military law. All police officers are civilians. As is any person not subject to military law.

Afraid of being labeled?????

No. To hell with that. I've been called an extremist, supremacist, nut, militia nut, right winger, hater, nazi, fascist, all because I KNOW we are supposed to be free enough to .....

let me simplify this for you and your wife.....

STOP, or have the dignity and self respect and courage to attempt to STOP someone, from the street or the govt., who is about to kill, rape, rob me or someone I care about.

NO! Is having a line in stone deep enough to carry away the blood.

And the resolve to make the blood run as our ancestors did.

Obey your 'gun laws' when told to 'register' or 'turn them in?'


When guns are outlawed "Liberal" season begins. I know what they are, how evil they are, what they plan for me and I will NOT TOLERATE their lies anymore or pretend they are not lying to me.

You need to WAKE UP!!!!

quote: The Washington Post, the New York Times, the Charlottesville Daily Progress, the Associated Press, Newsweek, CNN, MSNBC-- and I didn't listen at all to Fox-- do

excuse me. Any thought of theose at Newsweek,CNN and MSNBC regarding their own neutrality is merely self delusional.

For instnce, One need only to recall that CNN fraudulently showed film of fully automatic machine gun fire in an attempt to support Clintons assault weapon ban. Automatic weapons are ferociously controlled and generally not available to the public since 1934. This was a deliberately misleading agenda driven segment.

And you wonder why the positive storylines are ignored...?

Police Have No Duty To Protect Individuals

"I don't think concealed carry permits are a good thing. I've never given a dime to the NRA or any pro-gun organization, and the only time I went hunting-- killing three innocent quail in 1974-- I realized that shooting was something I never wanted to do again."

I am curious to know just why the author thinks that a normal citizen, of average or better intelligence, with no felony, or even major misdemenor offences should be barred from hiding a gun in his belt as he walks down the street, or in a store, or a mall, or in a courthouse. He is only hiding it because the standard milquetoast liberal is deathly afraid that the gun will jump off his belt and go running around loose. He is only wearing it because, despite what the Media likes to portay, police departments are not proactive, but reactive.

SWAT teams, when they are not blasting a 72 year old lady to bits on a no-knock warrant, only enter a crime scene AFTER the shooting stops, to make sure it's safe for the clean-up crew and the cameras. I offer Columbine and VT as examples.

As such, the person with the hidden gun is protecting both himself AND all the people who sneer at him from the safety of their walled and gated communities, high-rises-with-doormen-and-buzz-in-doors and from behind their internet connections. Oddly enough, the honest man with the hidden gun is so honest that any crimes he commits are so rare as to be statistically invisible.

I'm still waiting for one of the 34 states that have CCW to go berzerk one day and all the licenced carriers start whooping it up and shooting into the air.

Before the mid-1800s, American and British citizens—even in large cities—were expected to protect themselves and each other. Indeed, they were legally required to pursue and attempt to apprehend criminals. The notion of a police force in those days was abhorrent in England and America, where liberals viewed it as a form of the dreaded “standing army.”

England’s first police force, in London, was not instituted until 1827. The first such forces in America followed in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia during the period between 1835 and 1845. They were established only to augment citizen self-protection. It was never intended that they act affirmatively, prior to or during criminal activity or violence against individual citizens. Their duty was to protect society as a whole by deterrence; i.e., by systematically patrolling, detecting and apprehending criminals after the occurrence of crimes. There was no thought of police displacing the citizens’ right of self-protection. Nor could they, even if it were intended.

Re one piece of Mr. Salzman's piece. I've read that of over 200 journalism reports of the Appalachian Law School episode only a handful -- in one source only 2 -- mentioned that the students who stopped the shooter used guns.

Since 4/16, John Stossel of ABC is the only mainstream journalist who has reported in a fair, and honest manner. In his just-released book, and on 20-20, he has mentioned the exhaustive research done by the CDC and the American Academy of Science on the 20K gun control laws in the US. Neither organization was able to discover a single instance of any of those 20K laws preventing a single crime.

Since most of those laws simply put obstacles before law-abiding citizens wishing to possess or carry guns for self-protection or whatever, it seems only natural that they become a bit strident sometimes when they object to the gun grabbers wildly spazmodic knees jerking to the tune of "we must have more gun control."

These people realize that they are responsible for their own personal safety and that of their loved ones. The police cannot be counted upon, and according to many court decisions have no duty to protect the individual citizen. They perceive many of the grabbers antics as deliberately deceptive -- and in poor taste like Sarah Brady asking folks to give her outfit $1 for each of the victims at VT -- and determined to prevent law abiding citizens from protecting themselves. In the last few days, the Brady Bunch has begun saying that students with concealed carry permits are far more likely to indulge in binge drinking than their classmates. They've offered no proof I've seen. They just say it, like their ridiculous old, totally discredited mantra that owners of guns are 43 times more likely to be hurt with their own guns than to be able to thwart a crime.

It was only the grabbers who were dancing in the blood of the VT victims within 24 hours of their murders. The pro-gun outfits properly waited a decent time to state their positions, or respond to the gleeful frenzy of the grabbers.

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