Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A tragedy

My heart goes out to the friends and families of those killed yesterday at Virginia Tech. As the parent of two college students, I just can't imagine how they will go on.

The tragedy has set off a lot of emotions among friends and colleagues. Lots of argument for gun control, etc. But I disagree. Had the teacher or other students in the classroom been armed, there wouldn't have been such a large-scale massacre. Or if the students had been taught defensive measures, as some students in Texas schools are being taught, they might have had a chance to survive. One of the things some of our students are learning is how to use a textbook as a shield, to grab their desks and use them to charge the shooter, using the desks as both shield and weapon. The worst thing they can do is dive for cover and wait to be executed.

But that's the natural instinct. Without training, any one of us would do the same. But one man armed with a pistol is no match for 30 charging students. He might shoot one, maybe two, but he would be overpowered before he could kill 32 and wound 26.

A lot of blame going around, too, for school officials who didn't sound the alarm after the first shootings. But honestly, how were they to know? Sure, they should have done more than email 2 hours after the first shootings. They should have locked down the school until he was caught. But that's easy to say in hindsight, isn't it? The students had already been somewhat traumatized earlier in the year by a similar incident and school officials probably weren't eager to alarm them again.

What concerns me now are the copycats coming out of the woodwork on campuses across the country. Bomb threats, notes passed to students saying worse is yet to come. Families need to wake up and get help for their out of control kids. They need to be aware of what's going on with their children. They need to keep their guns locked up, out of kids' reach and they need to ask why if their college-aged child feels the need to buy a gun. A little concern and awareness can go a long way toward averting a potential tragedy.

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