The final body count still isn’t in yet as the normally quiet Virginia Poly Technical University, and Americans at large are still reeling from Monday’s mass shootings which have left at least 32 people dead and another 29 injured â€“ some critically.
The carnage began at 7:15 am Monday, EDT, when a lone gunman shot and killed 2 students at a dormitory on one part of this Shenandoah Valley campus, located more than 200 miles from Washington D.C. Though belatedly told to keep inside and away from windows, many students did not heed these advisories, and just two hours later, the real blood bath began when the killer, 23 year old Cho Seung Hai, a South Korean national and Virginia Tech English Major, suddenly began to open fire on students at another part of this sprawling campus of more than 25,000, virtually lining up people and shooting them in cold blood.
The mayhem which resulted, and in which the killer himself also died, has left an entire nation stunned, and became breaking news all over the world. Witnesses said that the gunman was looking for a former girl friend, and seemed to know where to be â€“ and when. The killings are said to be the worst school shooting incident ever in America and many are comparing it with the shootings at Columbine Colorado High School, nearly eight years ago, when more than 12 students and teachers were killed.
While Columbine may have been the most recent tragedy of its kind before the V. Tech massacre, it was still not as bad as one which occurred on August 1, 1966, when a young man named Charles Whitman climbed to the top of the University of Texas Clock Tower in the City of Austin, and there, armed with a high powered rifle, killed more than 15 students and teachers in a four hour shooting rampage. Whitman, who had earlier killed both his mother and grandmother, had been suffering from a brain tumor which pathologists believe caused him to commit mass murder. His killing spree finally came to an end when Texas law enforcement officers managed to reach the top of the tower and end Whitman’s rampage by shooting him to death. Whitman, a former Eagle Scout, never had the opportunity to explain why he did what he did; and all law enforcement officials could do was speculate what caused him to kill not only his immediate family but so many others as well.
With yet another horrible shooting incident transpiring, this time even more deadly, law enforcement authorities and educational administrators in the sleepy college town of Blacksburg Virginia, will be trying to determine how such an incident could have happened; and on a scale rivaling some of the worst recent Baghdad terror attacks.
Gun control advocates will definitely have good points to say in regards to easy availability of semi-automatic weapons and ammunition, which can be readily purchased at gun shops and sporting goods stores; often without the need for a police permit. That a long gunman could come onto to a school campus armed to the teeth with an “ungodly amount of ammunition”, as described by one witness, is frightening in it self. Issues such as the availability of firearms and lack of proper security at educational institutions are areas that should be addressed and dealt with as quickly as possible.
Whatever measures that might be taken, however, won’t bring back the scores of dead, many of them young undergraduate students, who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The trauma won’t go away so quickly either; and for many people, especially the parents of the dead students, their lives will be changed forever.
Americans now mourn the loss of so many innocent people, whose lives have been snuffed out by a killer who seemed to have no regard to human life. Are incidents such as this an omen for the future, as more and more violence takes place in American society? Can anything be done to stop these kinds of tragedies from occurring? Hopefully yes.