Friday, November 23, 2007

I Don't Know

I think I'll take a break from song-title posts, or at least not make them obligatory.

Anyway, I've come to realize that I've been very angry lately. I don't know how to describe it, except to say that I know it dates back to the Virginia Tech shootings last April.

Those shootings weren't actually the first case of a killer being on the loose in Blacksburg that academic year: on the first day of classes a prisoner had managed to take an officer's weapon and kill two police officers before being apprehended that afternoon. I didn't have work that day and so I took a pistol over to my then-girlfriend's apartment and waited with her. She had work early that afternoon; I parked out front of her store with the gun on the seat next to me, keeping my eyes peeled in case the killer (who had been described in detail on TV) showed up. After he was caught I put the pistol back in my closet and didn't really give the matter a second thought. As far as I'm concerned, it was a basic precaution that, while perhaps ultimately unnecessary, was a good thing to do.

In April, the killer (whose name doesn't deserve to be remembered) first killed two people in a dormitory (the same building where I had lived as an undergrad) and then thirty more in Norris Hall (where I'd had classes as an undergrad), plus many more wounded. Before the second part of his mass murder, he chained the doors shut so cops couldn't get in and people couldn't get out. Campus security isn't armed and much of the Virginia Tech police department is a joke, so this may have been unnecessary on his part.

I only knew one of the victims even slightly; Ryan "Stack" Clark was a member of the Marching Virginians while I was there, albeit in a different section of the 330-strong organization and I can't have talked to him more than twice in my life. The closest to a "direct" tie I had to anyone were some people who were on campus at the time.

At the same time, they're "my people" in that they're Hokies. If that doesn't make sense, don't worry; very few people who aren't Hokies (or family of Hokies) seem to understand it, while all the Hokies I know seem to understand it completely. It hurt me that "my people" were targeted. If it had been at nearby Radford University or in the Town of Blacksburg I'd be upset, but not to the same extent.

I believe many people have blood on their hands as a result of what happened. While his handling of events that day was okay, Virginia Tech President Charles Steger has blood on his hands for supporting the academic ban of legal firearms on campus. The Board of Visitors and all members of the Tech administration share in this guilt. I hope every single one of them loses their job. The Virginia Tech police and security departments are worthless jokes perpetuating a myth of safety while hassling students over ticky-tack offenses. One person I read put it well: "Remember, when seconds count, the police are only minutes away."

Many of those who were shot that day were graduate students and professors, with at least one professor being a veteran (of the Israeli army). One student with a concealed weapon could have changed things. Let me explain: at Virginia Tech (and at William & Mary) it is legal for those with concealed weapons permits to carry their handguns on campus. The law doesn't touch that. However, if discovered, they can face academic discipline (expulsion). It's an end-run around a basic right. At Appalachian School of Law the shooter was stopped by two students who had retrieved their guns from their cars, although not before he'd killed six people. I recently heard that during the 1966 shooting at the University of Texas several students retrieved their rifles from their cars and shot back, causing the shooter to have to take cover and significantly disrupting his ability to kill.

The way I see it, the past decade has seen a shooting at a law school in Virginia and a shooting at a public university in Virginia (plus the "Beltway Snipers" in Northern Virginia). I happen to go to a public university law school in Virginia. However, the W&M administration has made it clear that their policy is the same as Virginia Tech's: it's okay for students to get shot up so long as no one has to think too hard and shatter their fairy-tale kumbaya world.

This side of heaven there are people who will do evil things. They will shoot up schools, assault and rape women, mug the unsuspecting, and more. My life and the lives of those I care about are apparently not worth any real protection.

It's really hard not to swear at this point (only years of self-discipline keep me from doing so). I'm not allowed to protect myself and neither is anyone else. There sure seems to be a threat out there. I don't even know how to end this. I'm just angry, frustrated, and can't understand why the good people must be left at the mercy of those who seek to do them harm.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What's going to happen to the classrooms where the shooting took place?