Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Virginia Tech massacre

Wow, what a day. At work today I saw some short items coming over the wires starting in the early afternoon about a shooter at Virginia Tech, but even by the time I left work they were still reporting just one death. I went to the grocery store, and by the time I got back and turned on the telly and I find that actually 33 people have been killed and many more have been injured.

This thing is so crazy, and I can't believe it's now 11pm and they still don't know whether there was one shooter or two, whether the two shooting sprees at the two different buildings were related, or even who the dead are. The scale of the killings is difficult to grasp, but what is equally unbelievable is how the school allowed this to happen. What we know now is there was a shooting incident at a dorm at 7am, two people were shot and the shooter was on the loose. The school decided to lock down, and then for some reason, before the shooter was caught, they rescinded the lock down and told everyone to go to class. Then somehow two hours later the shooter, with at least two large guns and tons of ammunition, got to the other side of campus, entered an engineering building and killed 31 more people. And this is after multiple bomb threats were called into the school last week.

It is now the worst mass shooting in American history.

I'd say this university has a lot of explaining to do. But man you had to feel sorry for that chief of police at the press conference just now. I don't know if I would make all the right decisions if put in this situation either, especially if I was just a small town police chief. But man, it looks like they really messed this up.

It's been interesting watching the live coverage from the UK, and chatting with my friends in the US about how it compares to coverage there. Here the issue of gun control is continually brought up. The statistic that 1/3 of Americans own a gun (I had never heard that before tonight, is that true?), the incredible ease with which Americans can get guns, etc. But what's been really interesting is the anchors here keep asking their correspondents in the US if they think this will lead to a change in gun laws in the US, and they just sort of shake their heads in dismay and say no, not likely. And the anchors just can't comprehend how they can be so certain. But each correspondent says that same thing. Not here, not in the US. The situation is very unlikely to change.

I would hope this results in some kind of change. Clinton tried after Columbine but the Republican congress shot him down. And Hell will freeze over before this administration makes any move to increase gun control. But with a Democratic congress who knows...

It will be interesting to see what details the morning brings.

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