Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Cr@zy School Shootings...

Yet another sad day for Americans. The largest mass-killing in US History occurred Monday morning on the campus of Virginia Tech. An unknown gunman shot and killed 2 people in a dormitory and 30 more in a campus hall early Monday morning before turning the gun on himself. Within the space of 2 hours, 33 people were dead, all but one of them unknowingly. What a sad, sad day this is for us.

Primary speculation regarding this incident cited that the shooting arose over a "domestic dispute" in the dorms, after which it proceeded on to the Norris Hall - which houses VA Tech's Science and Engineering school. The separate shootings occurred approximately two hours apart, leaving many to question why students on campus were not alerted immediately of the emergency and warning status. Emails were sent to students letting them know what happened, but not soon enough after the first incident to have prevented another tragedy.

The president of VA Tech responded to the allegations by saying that they thought the shooter had left the area of the campus, and that the incident was confined to the dormitories only, and no one had any idea that there would be cause for further shootings. Students described the email as "lacking urgency".

Witnesses described the shooter as an Asian male, dressed in black, who went calmly from room to room shooting students and staff without a word or a second thought. Investigation at the dormitory found that doors had been chain-locked shut, in an attempt to keep "victims" from escaping. Upon further investigation, the body of the shooter was unidentifiable; no cell phone or identification, fingerprints did not yield a match, and he shot himself in the face - which will make it hard to obtain dental records or an accurate image of the shooter.

He turned out to be 23-year old Seung Hui-Cho, an English major at VA Tech, who had a history of mental illness, and who was also prescribed to be on anti-depressants. Cho was reported to the police in 2005, by two female students who claimed he was "stalking" them - no arrest was made because the police found no specific threat. He was deemed by a district court to be "mentally ill" and "an imminent threat to self and others" and was ordered to undergo psychiatric testing. He was discharged after his insight and judgment were found to be "normal".

Students also spoke today of numerous bomb threats that have occurred over the last few weeks on the VA Tech campus, two of which were directed at the school of Science and Engineering.

"Everybody’s in complete shock,” said freshman Rachel Wirth, 18, of Charlotte, N.C. “Everybody’s wondering if they know anybody who was killed or wounded.”

19-year old Kyle Blasser, from Annadale, VA, is still waiting to hear from a high school friend who was in a French class on the 2nd floor of Norris Hall at the time the shootings occurred.

The shooting replaced the 1966 shooting from the tower at the University of Texas as the worst "school shooting" in US History. Seems April has also been a black month in mass-murder history, with this incident following suit. The battle at the Branch Davidian Compound in Waco, 1993, the Oklahoma City Bombings in 1995, and the Columbine High School shootings of 1999 all have anniversaries within the next few days, only solidifying the grim fate of not only the month of April in the US, but the direction our society is headed as a whole.

With this, debates were rekindled over gun laws and gun control.

More than 30,000 people die from gunshot wounds in the United States every year and there are more guns in private hands than in any other country.

But a powerful gun lobby and support for gun ownership rights has largely thwarted attempts to tighten controls.

Advocates of gun ownership rights saw Monday's massacre as evidence of the need to relax gun laws rather than tighten them.

"All the school shootings that have ended abruptly in the last 10 years were stopped because a law-abiding citizen - a potential victim - had a gun," said Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America.

"The latest school shooting at Virginia Tech demands an immediate end to the gun-free zone law which leaves the nation's schools at the mercy of madmen."

I can guarantee with certainty that had there been ONE armed person at either of the shooting sites yesterday, many victims would have been spared. Over 700,000 gun crimes this year have been thwarted as the result of a concealed-carry gun owner being present.

My deepest sympathies and prayers are with the families and students involved in this tragedy. My heart goes out to all who have been affected by this type of violence, and I can only hope that in the future, the United States will be a safe place for my son to grow up and raise his family; hopefully one in which guns are not used in committing crimes, but in helping to prevent them from happening altogether.

This is absolutely Cr@zy. It needs to stop - NOW.

(*News information provided by Reuters).

** UPDATE - I was wrong about the guns. Apparently they were legal, and he'd obviously been planning this for a while, since he purchased the guns some time ago. Which still makes him a sick-you-know-what. **