3 short years ago.  Who will forget watching the events unfold on TV that left 32 people dead and 17 wounded at Virginia Tech?  The killings at VT became the worst massacre ever in the United States.  And that day we were all Hokies. 

There has been plenty of criticism to go around.  Tech was criticized for failure to notify students of the dangers of a marauding student killer on campus.  The cops have been criticized for tracking down the wrong person while the real killer went on a rampage.  Fairfax County Schools were criticized for not notifying Tech of Cho’s (the killer) anti-social  behavior.  Laws have been criticized, with everyone declaring ‘NEVER AGAIN.’

What has changed?  Does Tech have a better notification system?  Have the police come up with a better way of tracking crime on campus?  Is it more difficult to obtain guns or is it easier?  Are there better checks and balances in place so that people with mental illness are prevented from purchasing guns?  Is student information more readily available?  Do schools have to notify receiving schools of student mental illness?

Other than a better danger  notification system, I am not sure that one thing has changed. The legislature spent the winter trying to relax hand gun laws.  Student privacy laws still seem to be in place.  I just don’t know how NEVER AGAIN is working out for us.  Any ideas?

Meanwhile, a moment of silence for the fallen and a hopeful NEVER AGAIN.


April 16th is turning in to a real bad day for me. (See first thread)
I am not sure Virginians are ready to move on. I am not sure the mourning process is over. Maybe it won’t be for a long time. The last class to experience the massacre will graduate this spring. Maybe then. Maybe. University Distinguished Professor Nikki Giovanni speaks at the convocation on 4/17/07:

32 Thoughts to “Virginia Tech Massacre: 3 Years ago April 16, 2007”

  1. PWC Taxpayer

    I began to offer a comment – even a tribute – on this topic early this morning and then backed off as it is still a little too raw a subject for me. As a diversion I posted on Jefferson – only to find that M-H has begun to block, moderate and delay my posts (I now get a special note and delay.)

    My daughter is a graduating senior from VATech. While we will remember the massacre, we also remember that that freshman class faced a lockdown in the fall as a murderer tried to escape into the student population. My daughter was in front of Norris, heard the shots and when told to run as the police arrived had to be told by the officer which way. That freshman class is a memorial to Va Tech. Friends lost friends and friends of friends. I can still see the stained sidewalk afterwards.

    Tech does have a new and better alert system. It reaches out by e-mail and through the ubiquitous cell phone. As an impacted member of the community (vice hurt), I would object to anyone using this event as an opportunity to advance their anti-gun agenda. Can we deal better with mental illness – yes. Should we mark someone for ever for seeking help – that is a conflict for liberals as well as conservatives. More than ever, I resent the idea that college campuses are knucklehead Brady bunch inspired gun free zones – and an invitation for problems – with severe criminal penalties for carrying. Do I want students, who are otherwise perfectly and legally able to open or concealed carry to have guns off-campus to have such weapons on-campus – no probably not – but I really resent the idea that the adult professors cannot either. It might have only taken one.

  2. RIP, and may we all learn from this.

  3. I am still not sure what real changes have taken place to make a horrific massacre like this less likely to happen in the future.

  4. Some changes in security measures have already happened, MH. However, I also believe we need stricter gun control and more investment in mental health.

  5. marinm

    VT is a gun-free zone for students and staff Pinko. How much more gun control can you have?

    Until students and staff can be armed we’ll always have to ‘hope’ that another tragedy doesn’t happen again.

  6. Censored bybvbl

    Marinm, I wouldn’t feel any safer with armed students in a classroom. In fact, I’d feel less so. A classroom is a crowded, compact area – an area where trained police officers would hate to have to fire a gun – and not a place for amateurs to be “enforcing” anything. Metal detectors would seem a better alternative to me.

  7. marinm

    Censored, two things.

    Think about the cost of trying to put metal detectors ALL over a college campus and then posting personnel on those points. The cost and time lost at those checkpoints by students would be astronomical.

    Your not ok with the students/staff having guns…check. So, I as a student can’t carry and will not carry but it’s against the rules. So, how does that square with Cho? Do you think he cared about your rule or law?

    Why do you empower the criminal at the expense of potential victims?

  8. Its the amateur hour and the alcohol that would make me vote no to guns on campus. I might agree with PWCTP about professors who have been through training. BTW, That was an excellent, informative post PWCTP. (its all about how, not what)

    I expect as a parent is still is a very raw experience. I have one of my own. Same school, longer ago, certainly not a massacre, but raw. How is your daughter doing now?

  9. punchak

    “In honor of survivors”.

    Puzzling! Since when do we honor “survivors” of a catastrophy?
    Think 9/11, for instance.

  10. Censored bybvbl

    Marinm, what a loaded question! Why do you empower the criminal at the expense of potential victims?

    Maybe as the daughter of a federal law enforcement officer, I’m aware of the training they undertake and – with the very rare exception of some loose cannon – the conservatism they have about pulling weapons.

    My mother-in-law, who had been trained in handling guns, still managed to shoot her dresser while trying to unjam a gun. I’ve known other furniture shooters too. It just doesn’t make me feel comfortable with amateurs and weapons.

    Re the expense of manning metal detectors – I wonder how it would compare to a lawsuit because some armed kid accidently shoots another.

  11. Emma

    Gun-free zones only embolden criminals. And college campuses aren’t just full of teenagers. There are plenty of older folks pursuing second careers, plenty of non-faculty workers and visitors, all of whom are sitting ducks for a criminal who by definition doesn’t care what the “rules” are.

  12. In the commemorative ceremony to mark this anniversary, Governor McDonnell declared that April 16 would be Virginia Tech day every year he is in office. I wish he would make it permanent day of commemoration to honor the fallen and the wounded.

    PWCTP, do you think anyone redefined their beliefs on guns because of what happened rather than using the tech tragedy to advance their own agenda?

    Punchak, I think under the circumstances we can honor the survivors. In some ways, every person on that campus that day is a survivor. How about that girl who slept through her class? Many of her classmates and her professor were killed.

    How about the holocaust survivor professor who was killed by Cho? How many lives did that man save before he was killed? That is when you know you were allowed to live for some other purpose. It brings chills just thinking about it. I will never forget that day. It is sort of a mini 9-11 in my mind.

  13. So Emma, how do you decide who gets to be armed and who doesn’t?

    Campuses are too dense for me to rubber stamp a return to the wild west.

    Happy medium time.

  14. punchak

    MH –

    “What about the girl who slept through her class?” What about her? You say many of her classmates and her professor were killed. SHE wasn’t killed? Worth an honor? I don’t know. I know that everybody on campus went through hell, but the ones to honor are the ones who stopped the madman. Somehow, in my mind, surviving isn’t heroic unless you kept others from being killed. Like the woman at a church somewhere out west.

    As for the holocaust survivor professor who was killed, per your statement. I don’t know how many lives he saved before he was killed. Do you? And I don’t see any connection between the holocaust and the Virginia Tech shootings.

  15. marinm

    @Censored bybvbl

    In response to #10.

    Is it really a loaded question? Think about it. I, a law abiding citizen, will abide by a rule or law that burdens me but a criminal by definition will not. So, you harm me to try and stop an action which by definition you cannot. Your rule or law will have 0 effect on an active shooter. An active shooter will not have any qualms that he faces possible explusion by having a gun on campus for breaking a campus rule – after all most active shooters usually off themselves when confronted with force. So, that explusion hanging over his head is not an impairment on him but it sure is one on me!

    You do realize that the Commonwealth was sued over the VT shootings and it’s liability was capped at 100K/life. That’s how much the state values your life, 100,000. So, from a risk management perspective any security measure that costs more than 100K (technically, anything that gets close to the value but go with me on this) is a waste of money because it’s cheaper to pay out per life than it is to secure the property.

    MH, I know you didn’t ask me but I feel I must interject some truth to power here. That same arguement (campuses are too dense, cities are too dense, rural people know how to handle firearms, etc.) are just bunk. They have no substansive science behind them and are a purely emotional arguement. My call would be anyone over the age of 18 can have a pistol. Under state law they’d have to open carry until the age of 21 when they could purchase ammo by themselves and apply for a concealed permit if they desire one.

    To me it makes no sense to have an adult not have the means to defend him/herself.

    If/when my wife goes to NVCC – Woodbridge she’s unarmed and defenseless. When I’m around her (as a non-student) I can either open carry or conceal carry with permit.

    I think it’s silly to think that guns don’t already exist in our colleges.

  16. Emma

    Moon-howler :
    So Emma, how do you decide who gets to be armed and who doesn’t?

    Let the law apply to college communities the same way it applies to everyone else outside of the campus. The density you cite is all the more reason not to strip away from law-abiding citizens the ability to defend themselves.

  17. @punchak
    There is no direct connection other than irony. I find it ironic that someone would survive the holocaust only to be mowed down while teaching at Tech. I have read that he saved the lives of several students. I don’t recall the exact number. If he saved one, that is to his credit.

    I think the benches are a fine commemorative. It is part of the healing. There is already a memorial to those who didn’t make it.

  18. kelly3406

    I think the continued public hand-wringing over this incident guarantees that another incident will occur. Annual remembrances guarantee notoriety and a public forum for personal grievances that these losers could never hope to achieve otherwise. The points and counterpoints discussed here are virtually identical to those that took place after Columbine.

  19. I would always be opposed to students being armed. I grew up in a college town. I am not even sure they should have cars considering how much liquor went down.

    Colleges and universities are just too undisciplined. Apparently I am not the only one who feels like that.

    I don’t understand the American love affair with guns. There are times they are appropriate and times they are not.

  20. Kelly, isn’t that up to Tech to decide?
    What losers are you speaking of?

  21. Marin, one problem I can see is, you have complete confidence in your ability to handle a gun. I don’t. I have much more confidence in someone who has been hired and trained at public expense to handle a gun. Why? Because there are some standards.

    Now that might be be false faith, but its how most people feel. There’s just something about feeling more comfortable with law enforcement than a self appointed defender.

  22. marinm

    We trust people with the buildings we inhabit, the food they pick or cook, the cars they build, the wiring in any electronic system for the multitude of devices on a boat or airplane, etc. but suddenly this mythical device….a handgun.. elicits so much distrust in humans and this want for people to be ‘trained, certified and licensed’ and that only those who don some sort of uniform should somehow be ‘trusted’ with them.. Sorry, to me this is a divide by zero issue. It just doesn’t make sense.

    In terms of a self-appointed defender.. I would trust someone with even minimal skills in a handgun to engage an active shooter than to just pray for divine intervention.

    An active shooter will not stop until he’s stopped. It might be law enforcement, it might be someone sacrificing themselves by charging the shooter and trying to disarm him, or it may be that the shooter runs out of targets (targets is another word for helpless victims). I’d rather it be another Virginian that puts himself in the line of fire and matches force with force.

    And, I hope any Virginian law enforcement officer tries to exceed the minimal standard of 70% hit rate for qualification.

  23. Moon,

    Hate to disillusion you, but, the average security guard, sheriff, or cop, are poor gun handlers and are poor shots. Many shoot only twice a year to qualify and Virginia quals are not that hard. I learned this from a Sheriff Commander that teaches and qualifies the sheriffs.

    In the gunblog world, full of experts, this example is shown by the many “I’m the only one…..” incidents where the LEO expert has a negligent discharge of his weapon.

    Don’t get me wrong. Other people have those too, but, they don’t express the opinion that they’re the expert in the room…..

    Let’s put it this way, if that Professor that sacrifice himself had had a pistol, he might be alive today…..

  24. kelly3406


    It certainly is up to Tech to decide, but in doing so they are unwittingly contributing to the publicity that makes such a violent crime attractive to deranged individuals.

    The losers to whom I refer are the deranged individuals who cannot cope or fit in society and decide to go on a killing spree to publicize their grievances and angst.

  25. kelly3406


    I agree with you, Emma. But people who “feel” uncomfortable somehow have earned the right to infringe on the 2nd Amendment rights of others.

    One compromise could be to allow ROTC students in their Junior and Senior years, who are actually members of the inactive Reserves, to be armed on campus. ROTC students could be considered as members of the militia:

    “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

  26. Kelly,

    We are all members of the unorganized militia. Militia membership is not required for weapon ownership.

    Police have no duty to run to your defense. At best it will take minutes when seconds count. As said elsewhere, “I carry a gun because a cop is too heavy.”

  27. kelly3406


    I recognize that all citizens are members of the unorganized militia, but that has not stopped local municipalities, universities, etc. from limiting the right to keep and bear arms for the sake of “public safety.” Arguments against gun ownership (poor training, lack of discipline, etc) fail for ROTC, ready and selected Reserve, inactive Guard, and retired military. Local and state laws that limit the right to bear arms should have exceptions for these components, which could be considered as part of the “well-regulated militia.”

  28. marinm

    Kelly, 2+2=5 in your world, eh?

    To paraphrase the below: Criminals use any means possible to get guns, to hide them, to carry them wherever they want, to train with them more than cops and then use them to kill officers or whomever they wish. They fight like they train and train like they fight.

    Oh, and as a reminder – it’s not illegal to have a firearm on a college campus. It’s perfectly legal to carry a pistol onto a public college in Virginia.

    From a local (VA) pro-cop/pro-union website.

    New findings on how offenders train with, carry and deploy the weapons they use to attack police officers have emerged in a just-published, 5-year study by the FBI.

    Among other things, the data reveal that most would-be cop killers:
    –show signs of being armed that officers miss;
    –have more experience using deadly force in “street combat” than their intended victims;
    –practice with firearms more often and shoot more accurately;
    –have no hesitation whatsoever about pulling the trigger. “If you hesitate,” one told the study’s researchers, “you’re dead. You have the instinct or you don’t. If you don’t, you’re in trouble on the street..”

    These and other weapons-related findings comprise one chapter in a 180-page research summary called “Violent Encounters: A Study of Felonious Assaults on Our Nation’s Law Enforcement Officers.” The study is the third in a series of long investigations into fatal and nonfatal attacks on POs by the FBI team of Dr. Anthony Pinizzotto, clinical forensic psychologist, and Ed Davis, criminal investigative instructor, both with the Bureau’s Behavioral Science Unit, and Charles Miller III, coordinator of the LEOs Killed and Assaulted program.

    “Violent Encounters” also reports in detail on the personal characteristics of attacked officers and their assaulters, the role of perception in life-threatening confrontations, the myths of memory that can hamper OIS investigations, the suicide-by-cop phenomenon, current training issues, and other matters relevant to officer survival. (Force Science News and our strategic partner PoliceOne.com will be reporting on more findings from this landmark study in future transmissions.)
    Commenting on the broad-based study, Dr. Bill Lewinski, executive director of the Force Science Research Center at Minnesota State University-Mankato, called it “very challenging and insightful–important work that only a handful of gifted and experienced researchers could accomplish.”

    From a pool of more than 800 incidents, the researchers selected 40, involving 43 offenders (13 of them admitted gangbangers-drug traffickers) and 50 officers, for in-depth exploration. They visited crime scenes and extensively interviewed surviving officers and attackers alike, most of the latter in prison.
    Here are highlights of what they learned about weapon selection, familiarity, transport and use by criminals attempting to murder cops, a small portion of the overall research:

    Weapon Choice

    Predominately handguns were used in the assaults on officers and all but one were obtained illegally, usually in street transactions or in thefts. In contrast to media myth, none of the firearms in the study was obtained from gun shows. What was available “was the overriding factor in weapon choice,” the report says. Only 1 offender hand-picked a particular gun “because he felt it would do the most damage to a human being.”

    Researcher Davis , in a presentation and discussion for the International Assn. of Chiefs of Police, noted that none of the attackers interviewed was “hindered by any law–federal, state or local–that has ever been established to prevent gun ownership. They just laughed at gun laws.”

    Several of the offenders began regularly to carry weapons when they were 9 to 12 years old, although the average age was 17 when they first started packing “most of the time.” Gang members especially started young. Nearly 40% of the offenders had some type of formal firearms training, primarily from the military. More than 80% “regularly practiced with handguns, averaging 23 practice sessions a year,” the study reports, usually in informal settings like trash dumps, rural woods, back yards and “street corners in known drug-trafficking areas.”

    One spoke of being motivated to improve his gun skills by his belief that officers “go to the range two, three times a week [and] practice arms so they can hit anything.”

    In reality, victim officers in the study averaged just 14 hours of sidearm training and 2.5 qualifications per year. Only 6 of the 50 officers reported practicing regularly with handguns apart from what their department required, and that was mostly in competitive shooting. Overall, the offenders practiced more often than the officers they assaulted, and this “may have helped increase [their] marksmanship skills,” the study says.

    The offender quoted above about his practice motivation, for example, fired 12 rounds at an officer, striking him 3 times. The officer fired 7 rounds, all misses.

    More than 40% of the offenders had been involved in actual shooting confrontations before they feloniously assaulted an officer. Ten of these “street combat veterans,” all from “inner-city, drug-trafficking environments,” had taken part in 5 or more “criminal firefight experiences” in their lifetime.

    One reported that he was 14 when he was first shot on the street, “about 18 before a cop shot me.” Another said getting shot was a pivotal experience “because I made up my mind no one was gonna shoot me again.”

    Again in contrast, only 8 of the 50 LEO victims had participated in a prior shooting; 1 had been involved in 2 previously, another in 3. Seven of the 8 had killed offenders.

  29. @kelly3406
    “ROTC, ready and selected Reserve, inactive Guard, and retired military.”

    I see where you are coming from. However, ROTC members and members of the military can be too young to carry handguns. Concealed permits are limited to 21+ years. Also, none of those memberships have any decent handgun training. And military training can be counter-productive to civilian necessities. After witnessing the level of firearm training in my unit of Reservists, I know that, at least in the Navy, one does not receive enough rifle or handgun training. Marines and Soldiers concentrate on rifles. The Coast Guard LEO’s ship boarders would probably be the best trained. And we won’t mention the Air Force. Nerf Guns can be carried. 🙂

    My point is that relying on the expertise of personnel because they are uniformed and they have a reputation of knowing guns is dangerous. Besides, the right to keep and BEAR arms shall not be infringed. THAT would be the ideal.

  30. The following link gives a good overview of what has changed since the VA Tech massacre


    Gun enthusiasts will have to accept that many people don’t share their point of view about guns on campus. There are no rights that don’t have some limitations.

  31. kelly3406

    cargosquid :
    “ROTC, ready and selected Reserve, inactive Guard, and retired military.”
    And we won’t mention the Air Force. Nerf Guns can be carried.
    My point is that relying on the expertise of personnel because they are uniformed and they have a reputation of knowing guns is dangerous. Besides, the right to keep and BEAR arms shall not be infringed. THAT would be the ideal.

    I appreciate that shot at the AF — there will have to be retaliation at some point. But I disagree that allowing former military and Reservists to carry would be dangerous.

    Just to clear up any misunderstanding with you and Marinm, I agree that a constitutionally driven government should not infringe upon the right to keep and bear arms.

    However, a government that can introduce a healthcare mandate and manipulate the numbers to allow for reconciliation is not constitutionally driven. In our government’s world, 2+2 does indeed equal 5.

  32. @kelly3406
    I’m sorry. Maybe I wasn’t clear. Its not that allowing them to carry would be dangerous. My point was that their membership in the Armed Forces does not necessarily give them more gun handling knowledge than that of your average concealed carry permit holder, and probably less. I heartily support the idea that anyone that can legally carry, be allowed to do so.

    And Moon, we do accept that many people don’t share our point of view. That’s why we try to convince them we are right and that our ideas are practical, constitutional, and improve the safety of all.

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