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by D. Grant Haynes
Friday, Apr. 20, 2007 at 6:10 PM
The senseless murder of 32 people at Virginia Tech underlines once again the necessity for stricter gun control laws in the United States.
Americans are busily soul searching one more time after another mass killing at an educational institution.
This time the setting was a university rather than a secondary school.
But the ghastly spectacle that unfolded at Virginia Polytechnic University in Blacksburg, Virginia, on April 16 when a disaffected student--Cho Seung-Hui, 23--systematically executed 32 innocent students and faculty members was fully as terrible as other such recent massacres in America--only worse.
More were killed at Virginia Tech than at Columbine High School in Colorado eight years ago. And the killer’s cold-blooded and methodical resolve, as well as an inexplicable lack of appropriate and timely responses from police officers on the scene, will put the Virginia Tech massacre in a class apart always.
Media pundits, politicians, university administrators, psychologists, clergymen and others talk endlessly now about what lessons might be learned from Virginia Tech.
The university should have had a better evacuation or lock down protocol in place.
University and other police officers should have been more diligent in protecting students from Cho Seung-Hui’s rage after his first shooting spree in which he killed two individuals more than two hours before he reappeared on campus to kill 30 more students.
The mental health community should have done a better job of intervention when Cho Seung-Hui had, over several years’ time, displayed symptoms of mental illness.
There is ample blame to go around in this botched and bungled phantasmagoric mess that, seemingly, could not have been handled in a worse way than it was handled.
But in all of the hand-wringing 24-hour non-stop media reportage and speculation about Blacksburg, few professionals and fewer politicians with their fingers to the wind and their campaign coffers chock full of National Rifle Association dollars in some cases, have been willing to state the obvious.
Cho Seung-Hui could not have murdered 32 people so efficiently in Blacksburg, Virginia, on April 16 without access to two pistols and endless rounds of ammunition for them.
Cho was a brooding youth. One of his teachers had identified him as deeply troubled because of the excessively violent nature of his fictionalized scenarios. She had even referred him for counseling.
He had had encounters with the university police over allegations of stalking others.
He had been described as a potential menace to himself and others by a mental health professional.
Should not these facts alone have been a red flag sufficient to dictate a more than perfunctory look at him when he sought to acquire death-dealing hand guns?
That should have been the case and would have been in a more sensible culture.
Had minimally effective gun control laws been in place in Virginia when Cho sought to purchase his pistols and cartridges, he would have been denied a permit and 32 dead Virginia Tech students and faculty members would be alive today.
For all practical purposes, anyone in this nation can obtain a firearm, regardless of his or her emotional stability, maturity, or legitimate need for the weapon.
This is wrong and is cause for people in more sane societies to fear for their very lives when contemplating a trip to America. This writer knows whereof he speaks because he lived in Great Britain for a time and was asked often about the danger of being gunned down in America.
What must they all think today?
More stringent gun control is the only answer to the madness of disaffected youths and others who, repeatedly, have walked into schools and work places and murdered innocent people.
But cowardly Democrats who should be at the forefront of gun control legislation are already distancing themselves from calls for tougher gun laws in the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy.
Congressional Democrats fear the wrath of the National Rifle Association and that organization’s clout with a certain segment of American voters too much to do what they know is both right and desperately needed.
Senate majority leader, Harry Reid (D-NV) squelched serious talk of more rigid gun controls following the Virginia Tech shootings. The Associated Press reported Reid’s lackluster and cowardly response to questions of stricter gun control as blood was being mopped at Virginia Tech.
“After the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid cautioned Tuesday against a ‘rush to judgment’ on stricter gun control....
"I think we ought to be thinking about the families and the victims and not speculate about future legislative battles that might lie ahead," said Reid... .”
And you should also be thinking about the families and the victims of the next such massacre, Senator Reid.
A ban on the sale of assault rifles in the United States--one that was in place from 1994 until 2004 when a Republican Congress permitted it to expire--should be reinstated as soon as possible.
And hand gun acquisition requirements should also be made more restrictive as soon as possible.
The American with a legitimate need for a personal hand gun--certainly and especially a license to carry such a weapon on his person--should become a rare exception rather than the rule.
The Cho Seung-Hui’s of this nation should never be permitted to purchase a handgun or an assault rifle. Background checks prior to the sale of a pistol should be infinitely more thorough--modeled, perhaps after the British system.
The only viable solution to the epidemic of mass killings at American educational institutions and work places is to drastically reduce the number of guns in the hands of Americans.
This can be done and should be done.
And to those who would at this point trot out the tired old bromide, "when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns", one can only observe that we must start somewhere and at some point in time.
The process may take decades, but if assault rifle acquisitions are stanched altogether and hand guns are made infinitely more difficult to obtain, there will be ever fewer of each in circulation over time.
That would represent a move in the right direction and would be a fitting memorial to those who gave their lives at Virginia Tech because Virginia’s gun laws had permitted a psychologically impaired youth to acquire the instruments to murder 32 people on a morning that will live in infamy throughout American history.
How many more Virginia Techs must occur before our elected representatives muster the courage to confront the gun lobby and do what must be done ?
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