Phi Beta Cons

Some Thoughts on the Massacre at Virginia Tech

I think first of all we need to pray.  Then we need NOT to say that there was nothing that anyone could have done to prevent this horror.  Without judging or condemning anyone, we need to learn from this for the future.   
I know we don’t have all the information, or even much information at this point, but there are aspects of what we have heard so far that gnaw at me.  I don’t know why the campus wasn’t on greater alert in general, given the bomb threats of the previous weeks.  I don’t know why it was so easy for the killer to enter the dormitory.  Dormitories are virtual homes for their students, a place where they are completely relaxed and unguarded. 
I don’t know why there wasn’t a more concerted effort to make sure after the first shooting that the killer be apprehended.  Authorities thought the dorm incident was a murder/suicide.  Wasn’t it possible pretty early to see that the young man who was dead in the dorm had not killed himself?  If so, that meant an armed killer was on the loose.  Therefore, wasn’t there a way to issue a general warning so that students could have been more on the alert after the first shooting?  Couldn’t professors at least have been contacted so that unsuspecting students were not in classrooms lined up like sitting ducks?  Did no one see the killer chaining the doors of one of the buildings? 
I am sorry that no one had a gun to take the killer out before he could destroy more lives.  He was evidently able to reload.  Was there a moment when he could have been tackled?  I don’t say this to condemn or judge anyone, believe me, but so that we think in terms of what can be done in the future.  Just as there is widespread CPR training and instruction in the Heimlich maneuver, perhaps we should have classes and training to prepare for such situations.  Enough of them have happened in recent years to warrant this. 
Of course it’s unimaginably terrifying to be confronted with an armed lunatic but perhaps he could have been jumped and overcome while he was reloading if some students had been able to recognize and shake off the fear, panic, and paralysis that can take over at such times.  We all need to learn to act, and not necessarily to rely on security and responders.  We are supposed to be at war.  This was not an act of terrorism but it may as well have been, for the damage it caused.  We must be wartime ready.  
There was some alert action.  Some students realized in the first classroom that the killer might come back and so barricaded the door to prevent his re-entry.  It worked.  He did come back but they held the door, which was evidently thick enough to stop the renewed burst of bullets, and so some students from that classroom survived.  And there were moving instances of heroism.  A Holocaust survivor whose life had been spared decades before gave it for others yesterday.  He barricaded the door of his classroom against the killer, enabling the students to escape through the windows. 
And I’m sorry, some will really think me foolish, but I don’t think dorms should be co-ed, so that crazed, jealous boyfriends can enter their girlfriends’ dorms and kill them and the innocent young men who come to their aid.  If it had been a single-sex dorm, the killer might not have been able to enter so readily.  There aren’t enough difficulties getting young people through college these days so that we have to deal with ”domestic disputes” in their dormitories as well? 
And, sorry again, but thoughts also arise on the killer’s being an English major and on the spiritual emptiness of much education nowadays.    
Did the killer show any signs of snapping?  If so, were these signs properly acknowledged?  Once a student erupted in rage at a colleague of mine and the administration excused it as a sign of “stress.” 


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