In my past career tracks I have had some experience with the airlines and anyone who has also has some experience with the NTSB. Any time there has been an incident involving a passenger aircraft in this country, I have been uniform in my advice to not rush to conclude. The NTSB is notorious for taking months to publish reports. That’s not a bad thing. It’s a sign of careful, consistent progress toward a conclusion based on evidence.
The situation in Blackburg, VA is no different and I’ve been quite up front with my cautions against drawing conclusions too quickly. That said, there’s a lot of evidence that has come to light and a lot of conclusions being bandied about. I’d like to address some of that.
Given the situation at the first crime scene, I’m not sure that the VA Tech authorities could have acted any differently. They came upon a scene of 2 people having been shot. Murder-suicide? Love triangle gone very, very wrong? Either way, there are such scenes across the US daily and they aren’t followed by the gunman taking out over 2 dozen more a few blocks away. Given that the firearm used to commit the crime is now known to have been purchased legally and to have been in the possession of the killer at the time, I’m unsure what evidence anyone thinks should have pointed the police at Cho and how they would have known just what kind of evil bastard he was. With all that, I can’t conclude that they should have locked down the campus.
It’s natural for us to not want to believe that a sole nutcase can render our law enforcement agencies incapable of protecting us. We want to believe that the reason he got away with killing so many of those young men and women – and some not-so-young ones whose loss has left us so unbelievably diminished – just had to be that someone screwed up. Someone, somewhere, didn’t do his job, we’d like to think. But there’s no denying that there are some twisted people out there. There are some real, textbook-definition sickos out there. And, yes, evil does walk the Earth. The police cannot stand between them all and all of us 24/7.
I think the University should have been a bit more forthcoming in their information to the students. These aren’t children, as much as people my age might call them “kids.” They’re young adults, but adults nonetheless and the University needs to start treating them as if they were. The second someone thought they should pop an e-mail out to the students they should have come immediately clean with the danger and been explicitly up front about the nature of that danger.
The other thing they need to realize is that the so-called “gun free zone” really amounts to a king-sized neon sign to men like Cho to bring their mayhem there. They can do so secure in the knowledge that the vast majority of targets will most definitely be unarmed. I’m not saying an armed student or professor could have saved all those people. What I’m saying is that the policy guaranteed none of them could. That’s a loser proposition and it needs to be changed now. Here’s hoping our General Assembly can get that through their heads.