Akshay R. Rao: A beautiful campus, grotesquely violated
The ramrod-stiff ROTC students as they marched around the drill field. The beautiful women who played with peculiar flat objects that I later learned to call Frisbees. My first set of eager students, who were simultaneously curious about my background (Was India a democracy?), my accent (Why did I say "chap" rather than "guy"?) and my credibility (Could I write them a letter of recommendation?).
That image of the most beautiful campus in the country, bar none, has been grotesquely violated by the obscenity of April 16. As I watched the horror unfold, I could not but think: Were it not for the culture of guns that pervades our society, would this have happened in such a macabre and horrific fashion?
I realize that the issue of guns (like many other issues) has become an incendiary political topic that distinguishes the right from the left, though I suspect that Republicans and Democrats alike were victims at Virginia Tech, have been victims of gun violence in the past and will be in the future. Most arguments against any sort of gun control start with the Second Amendment to the Constitution. So I looked it up, and here is what it says:
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
Surely we can all agree that the first four words of the Second Amendment are an integral part of the "right to bear arms" conversation. Currently, there is no well-regulated militia. It is the right to bear arms that is the sum and the substance of the conversation. Any suggestion of "regulation" is perceived as a threat to the right to bear arms.
Perhaps we should also discuss whether the private ownership of guns will indeed protect society if the government decides to unleash its military might against the citizenry. And finally, we could discuss whether we want a society where everybody is armed, to protect the innocent individual, which will surely continue to result in horrors such as Columbine and Virginia Tech, or whether we want a society in which nobody is armed so that indiscriminate carnage never occurs again. I can't envision a middle ground that does not require considerable regulation, or is worth the lives that are cut short in such a monstrous manner.
Akshay R. Rao is General Mills professor of marketing at the Carlson School of Management. He received his Ph.D. from Virginia Tech in 1986.