Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Virginia Tech Tragedy

On April 16, 2007, a deranged student murdered 32 students and teachers at Virginia Tech. As we all heard, it became the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, worse than Columbine. For many of us, this date will be etched into our memories like 9-11.

I graduated from Virginia Tech in 1984 with a B.S. degree in Animal Science. The two and half years I spent in Blacksburg were among the best years of my life. I didn't live in the dorms and I'm not even certain I had a class in Norris Hall, but somehow this tragedy seems more personal to me, as a Tech grad.

I'm proud of the Virginia Tech community and how they handled this upspeakable tragedy. You saw prayer, not hatred. You saw unity. And dignity.

Per usual, I am ashamed of the media. They gave the murderer what he desired, a showcase for his agenda, his rantings, his sick reasons for taking the innocent lives of 32 people. They disrespected the victims and their families. They gave other madmen and deranged people someone to relate to, ideas to feed their sick minds. The worst TV violence is on the news, not in TV shows. My local newspaper put a picture of Cho with guns blazing on the front page. Talk about poor taste! When the Virginia Tech community called off the media, I applauded them.

Furthermore, I am sick of the media and pundits always wanting to blame someone, instead of the one who is responsible. Seung-Hui Cho bears the sole responsibility for the murder of 32 people and the wounding of countless others. This incident didn't happen because of lack of gun control. It didn't happen because Virginia Tech lacked proper security. It didn't happen because Cho had some chemical inbalance in this brain or because he was picked on in school. Cho was 100 percent guilty of this act and he will burn in hell for it. The only good thing he did was take his own life.

On the other hand, I don't mind that the incident ignites the gun control debate. If there are loop holes in the gun laws (in Virginia and elsewhere), they should be closed. Why should a person with documented mental illness have been allowed to purchase a gun? That is a legitimate question. As is the fact that Cho was able to use rapid firing ammunition. But to those who say that this only happened because of easy access to guns, I disagree.

Phooey to the Europeans and other gun control advocates! Cho planned and plotted this act for more than a month. If he couldn't have bought a gun, he would have used something else, perhaps a bomb, which would have killed more people. Not to mention, there's not a gun control law anywhere that will prevent a criminally-minded person from acquiring a gun. For sick, violent people, there is always a means of violence.

As far as the security issue, the only way to prevent these mass murders would be to create the equivalent of a police state, and even this would not be fool-proff. None of us want that. Unfortunately, freedom comes at a price. College campuses are generally safe places, but events such as this can happen anywhere. All we can do is look for the danger signals and hope that we can prevent people like Cho from carrying out their sick acts of violence.

I am awed at the heroism of the victims and survivors of this tragedy. I greeve for the 32 lives lost. So much potential lost. Such a waste. Among the 32, there were professors at the top of their fields, a Holocaust survivor, young people destined for careers in engineering and medicine. Who knows what these young people could have accomplished in their lifetimes. The victims came from all different walks of life, from different countries, races, and religions -- a cross-section of America. They had parents, brothers, sisters, boyfriends, and girl friends. I am sad for their families and friends.

In time, everyone will heal. Virginia Tech will come out of this stronger than ever. The victims will not be forgotten. Cho will be.

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