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Virginia Tech

33 dead, 15 injured. Sometimes the news seems so unreal.

I tried to make it real. I tried to imagine this happening at Indiana University, a school I know well, instead of Virginia Tech, which I know not at all. I imagined how the community of Bloomington, Indiana, would be devastated by something like this.

Of course, if it happened here in New Orleans, it would have been chalked up to Katrina and mixed into a whole different kind of pain.

But I’m already wondering, what will our national response be? Are we capable of any response that doesn’t just make everything worse?

Published inMiscellaneous


  1. Ben Ben

    I attended VT as a student and was invited back ten years later as a professor. When people would ask about VT, I would tell them about a great school in a sleepy little town cradled among the peace and tranquility of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was a place for higher learning where the doors were always open–a place that had somehow removed itself from the world and its problems. That’s all gone now.

    To my knowledge, no one I know was hurt; and what happened is incredibly real and unreal at the same time… My heart goes out to the families of those whose lives were taken so senselessly.

  2. Michael Michael

    Here will be our national response: on my side, get rid of guns. On the other side, everyone should be armed and get rid of foreigners and violent rap music and video games.

  3. Garvey Garvey

    Getting “rid” of guns is impossible. Name one thing that has been eliminated in America through prohibition. Repeat after me: prohibition does not work. This is a fact.

    Our borders are too porous, our society too open and free, for any type of prohibition to work. The “War on Drugs” has failed and will always fail. Same thing with guns, alcohol, whatever. If people want it, it will be made available. Want some smack? How about a kidney? Or maybe a bazooka? Can’t ship your favorite wine to your state? You could have any one of these in your hands by the end of the day if you tried hard enough.

    As for B’s original question, “What will our national response be?” Nothing. Nothing will be our response. The usual hand-wringing from lefties and righties will play out in the media, and when all is said and done, nothing will change. Call it apathy. Call it federalism. Call it what you will, but this great nation is simply too big and too diverse to implement any sweeping changes on a national level. And I think that’s a good thing. Or at the very least, it just is. That’s the way it is.

  4. Garvey Garvey

    One thing I would add, from Jack Dunphy, pseudonym for an LAPD officer:

    “I can’t put it any more simply than this: There are evil people in the world, and no amount of laws will make them any less so.

    “There may be a level of security that would deter a suicidal maniac from carrying out the kind of horrors seen on the Virginia Tech campus Monday morning, but I doubt anyone would want to attend the school that implemented it.”

    I couldn’t agree more. There may be a level of security that could deter this nationally, but I wouldn’t want to live in such a country. If you think the Patriot Act is bad…think about what it would take to seriously get rid of guns (or anything else).

  5. Garvey Garvey

    “Let’s get rid of” ___x___.

    How do you do that, exactly? More laws? Hmmm, those drug laws sure eliminated all traces of drugs.

    A house-by-house, nationwide search and seizure? Sounds great, huh?

  6. Jim Jim

    Garvey, thanks for the simplistic analysis in which government abdicates its responsibility to govern.

    Since prohibition doesn’t work, could you tell me where to buy a nuclear bomb?

  7. Garvey Garvey


    Nice fallacy. Ah, yes, nukes and guns are exactly the same thing. Most people wouldn’t exactly label keeping nuclear secrets, secret as “prohibition.” Nor would they consider nukes as prevalent as guns or alcohol.

    Regardless, you have clearly outlined the authoritarian position of government that you wish to impose, where the “government” has a “responsibility” to “govern,” whatever that means. No, thanks. I don’t want to be “governed.” They are our employees, to serve us, through our tax dollars. Your vision of government is a scary one, frankly. Four legs good, and all that jazz.

  8. Michael Michael

    Garvey, how about something so radical as a waiting period to purchase a gun at Virginia gun shows. How about making automatic assault rifles illegal to possess. Should we do away with all taxes, arm ourselves to the gills, and then lock our doors and wait? Ours is a violent society. And we don’t need a house by house seizure. Just make it illegal to buy, sell, and possess assault weapons. The police as a group support such legislation. I am also a fan of Chris Rock’s $5,000 dollar per bullet policy.

  9. Garvey Garvey

    Michael, do waiting periods reduce crime? Do most criminals buy guns at gun shows? (I’m not being rhetorical.) My perception has always been that passing a law doesn’t stop the evil people from doing their evil: they were buying guns et al. “off the grid” to begin with. Thus, new laws only hamper normal, law-abiding folks.

    Chris Rock’s bit is cute, but how quickly would a black market spring up to sell ten cent bullets? Before the ink dried on the legislation, frankly.

  10. Open Campuses are more vulnerable to crime period. yet it doen’t mean that it won’t happen at a highly secured campus.

    in 04 a female professor was raped at Tulane Univ.
    a body was found at UNO in 05.
    in 06 a guy murdered a man in N.O but was “Hiding out” on SU’s campus in BR.

    at SUNO a guy killed his GF in a trailer.

    at Dillard someone was raped and beaten this is one reason that they are closing off the campus now.

    yeah they were Single incidents, but they Happened ..
    School Administration usually gets the news like everyone else. unless the victim is alive.

  11. I guess the answer to your original question is obvious, Bart: The national response will center around discussions of gun control (or lack thereof). It is an important discussion, and I honestly can see both sides, but the truth is guns only make it easier for the mentally ill to kill lots of people in a brief period of time. I’m a psychotherapist, so this is my bias, but when we focus solely on whether or not guns are bad then we miss the larger issue, which is how to recognize and treat the people who commit these heinous crimes before it comes down to that.

  12. bullet bullet

    “Since prohibition doesn’t work, could you tell me where to buy a nuclear bomb?”

    North Korea, Iran, former Soviets. As long as you have the persistance and the cash, anything can be bought.

  13. Terri Terri

    Well I am faculty at Oklahoma and if you haven’t heard we had a lockdown today caused by a college aged student described as caucasin, blond, slightly balding, wearing a yellow shirt and hold a suspicious package.. What was the package? an Umbrella (it started pouring here around noon)…

    All I could think of.. its just part of the culture of fear.. the same reason we take our shoes off in airports and have to use hotel shampoo… As long as we are in a state of fear – won’t we stay more compliant?

  14. Carmen Carmen

    “My perception has always been that passing a law doesn’t stop the evil people from doing their evil.” Well, Garvey, if the Ten Commandments were good enough for God, I say, legislate the guns away.

    Or why have any laws? Aren’t they ALL to stop evil people from doing their evil?

  15. Garvey Garvey

    Laws point out acceptable vs. unacceptable behavior. And breaking them has consquences.

    And the Ten Commandments don’t negate free will (so I don’t understand what you were getting at there…)

  16. Jim Jim

    That there isn’t a “prohibition” against nukes is an embarrassing semantic argument. What’s really fallacious is drawing a comparison between drugs and guns. In general, drugs are simply plants or easily derived from them. Garvey, plants are easy to make and transport. In fact, Garvey, plants have millions of years of evolution that facilitate their being made (ie, grown) and transported in a variety of situations. That’s why regulating them is difficult to impossible.

    Guns, Garvey, guns are different. They’re not organic. They didn’t evolve. They rely on something different; that’s technology. In particular, making guns on a large scale requires large, obvious industrial and machining processes. (Compare that to what’s involved in, say, making joints on a large scale.)

    So a nuke isn’t a gun? (Which is OK, because there really isn’t a prohibition against nukes anyway, right?) OK. Can you tell me where I can buy a claymore mine? I think of them as giant indescrete shotguns, which is exactly what they are. Thanks.

    Oh and I hardly described a vision of government in my last post. But give me your email, and I’ll send you my manifesto.

  17. I just read this today after I had already posted on this subject. Having read the comments here I can see what the comments on my post will be. I think I’ll just go pull the covers up over my head now and try not to notice the rivers of blood in this country, all over this country.

    Oh, and when I get out of bed, I’ll write the “Guns are good” 500 times on a blackboard in my kitchen. Maybe then I will have learned my lesson.

  18. Garvey Garvey

    I don’t know if “guns are good,” but eliminating guns would take a massive effort that I would not want to witness, and it still wouldn’t get rid of all of them. Imagine the steps it would take to remove guns from one city. You’d have to encircle the town with an army and then fan inward, doing a house-by-house search and seizure. There really is no other way to eliminate something that is so widespread. And that’s really the problem with dreamers: you have no idea what it takes to implement anything.

  19. Frank S. Frank S.

    Gun laws..and stuff.

    How about we better pay and hire better police to enforce the gun laws we already have, work to make them consistant across the country, provide tougher sentences for crimes that involve guns, AND work to fund our mental health systems so we can treat people with problems as opposed to locking them up an/or [worse] just setting people we know have problems lose on the world because there is no mental health program to recognize & treat them?

    Oh, may I add let’s have tougher anti-stalking laws. You know, ones that stop folks with these problems before they murder/assault?

  20. Jim Jim

    Frank, what gun laws?! Seriously, what gun law is out there that you don’t think is being enforced enough?

    Right now if I want a phone with a land line the government requires a more rigorous registration process than if I want a pump action shotgun with a pistol grip (AKA, a street sweeper). Also, the government demands more of the phone manufacturer in terms of product safety and quality control than it does of the gun manufacturer. These disparities are clear instances of civic insanity. Why? Two reasons. First, because a street sweeper is used to kill people, and a phone isn’t. Second, because despite all the requirements placed on the phone companies by “intrusive, authoritarian” government, no one has a problem getting and lawfully using a phone.

  21. Frank S. Frank S.

    Jim, I see your point. Of the 73 laws the State of Virginia has on the books, , about guns very little [if any] of them would have helped stop what happened at VT. The local ordinances may have helped more, but I don’t know about that, either. Bottom Line—Gun laws nation wide should be consistant AND consistantly enforced. But in all due respect I didn’t JUST say enforce gun laws already on the books. I suggested a lot of things. I mean if this man had used a pointed stick and just killed one person that still would have been TOO many people. Stopping this kind of violence has to be a more holistic method and use the real involvement of a lot of agencies [not just the arbitray and at times draconian ones you mentioned], health care professionals and groups, from the White House all the way down to the neigbhor’s house.

  22. Jim Jim

    Frank, you’re right that your suggestions were more extensive than just what concerned gun legislation, more of which I would agree with. I guess I focused on the “enfore the laws on the books” comment, because to me it came across as an NRA talking point. That and the fact that our nation is woefully devoid of meaningful gun legislation. Apparently the shooter in Virginia had a signficant history with mental illness and the local police, yet the guns rights people would not want to impede one iota the ability of such a person to buy the weapons of his choosing. Again, civic insanity.

    But I appreciate your thoughtful response and that you reminded me how thoughtful you were.

  23. Frank S. Frank S.

    NRA? I suppose I might take them more seriously if most of them didn’t have a vested & finacial interest in the rhetoic they voice. I do feel there is/must be a middle ground to the freedom’s the founders placed in the constitution in regards to firearms and the need for public safety–I just hope me or someone I love are not shot before I see it come to pass.

  24. Jon Konrath Jon Konrath

    Something similar did happen on the IU campus almost exactly 15 years ago, except on a smaller scale. A German national killed his ex-girlfriend and her boyfriend, then himself, in Eigenmann. 3 doesn’t compare to 33, but the general shock and reaction on campus was similar.

    I think the big difference was that back in 1992, the news networks were not as wired in or as emphasized on the shock and awe factor as they are now, which made the B’ton incident nothing more than a regional news story, rather than a forever-repeating-every-15-minutes horror story on CNN, complete with its own screen graphic, and Larry King interviewing a victim’s cousin’s neighbor’s psychiatrist about it.

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