Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech Massacre

It's been a pretty tumultuous last couple days. This shooting has not *directly* affected anyone very close to me, but there have been a lot of impacts that have made me think about it a lot more than if it had been thousands of miles away. My mother's cousin Ed Weathers is an English instructor at VT, and my Mom emailed him, worried about his safety. (He and I have never even met.) He replied to my parents that he was safe, but one of his favorite students from the previous semester was killed yesterday in the shooting. I don't know the name, but presumably she was an English major.

In a bizarre twist for me personally, the shooter, Cho Seung-Hui or Seung Cho as he went by in the US, was practically my neighbor! He lived about a mile from my house, literally, in Centreville, VA, when he was not at school. He went to Westfields High School, where I would have gone if I had grown up in my current house. Many people at my work went to VA Tech, and you can't drive more than a couple miles around here without seeing a vehicle with VT Hokies stickers or ornaments of some kind. Most of them don't know anyone from there any more, but one co-worker I know well has a cousin there. He is fine, but his parents in India are upset that they will have to wait for some time to hug him. I think he'll be on the phone a lot in the coming weeks until his semester is over.

There are a couple of things that are annoying me about the reactions of others to this incident. One is the criticism of the response of the police in the incident. I've heard it voiced by a few people, but fortunately they don't seem to be the majority. The first incident was two people killed in a dorm room in a residence hall with hundreds of people in it. If the guy were after more targets, a dorm would be a fine place to pick them off. Sure, they are concentrated in classrooms, but I remember the way schedules were at my college, and people would often go off to their first classes in herds. He would have had plenty of opportunities. So he waited a couple hours, for what I don't know. I can't imagine anyone thinking at that time that this was just a "warm-up". They locked down the dorm and then determined that the shooter fled, sent an email to the campus and went from there. I would have thought just as they did that it looked for all the world like a personal vendetta. Two people dead, a man and a woman, and the shooter apparently long gone hours later with no more victims in a target-rich environment? Classic crime of passion. Anyone who thinks they would have guessed otherwise at the time is just fooling themselves. I probably would have gone to class even if I had gotten the email unless I was in that dorm. Give the police a break and stop pretending you know better!!!

The other irritating thing is the people jumping on the less gun control or more gun control bandwagon. I love how both sides seem to somehow think that their way would have "solved" it. First, the pro gun control people say that this means we need more gun control laws. The kid bought the gun legally, and went through the normal checks. He had no record. He was legally able to own the gun. He even bought the gun (at least one of the guns), 36 days before the shooting, which means a 30 day waiting period wouldn't even have helped. The there are the anti gun control people that think that if guns were allowed on campus that lots of people would have been packing and probably would have stopped him. Most people don't feel like carrying guns around even when they can, especially not at a place like a college campus. Maybe more laws would have made a difference, maybe fewer laws would have made a difference. I doubt either one would have made a difference, so stop trying to make political hay out of this!!! The kids' bodies are still warm, and people are pushing their bullshit political agendas. Knock it off and let people heal!