It is clear something must change. One, we must give serious thought
to making all our campuses as secure as practical. If that means
adding security cameras, 24-hour locked dorms and more security
personnel, so be it. We must have an effective communications system
in place to warn students when a gunman is on the loose. There
should be education programs to teach students and faculty how to
respond in the event such a situation arises in the future.
some are railing against the right of all Americans to bear arms,
that is not the problem here. It is impossible to prevent rogues and
criminals from illegally obtaining firearms. A person intent on
killing is going to find a way to do it. It is the responsibility of
each of us to be alert to such a potential killer and know what to
do if we encounter one. That is the sad but true state of affairs
our violence-loving society has brought us to, that college freshman
orientation ought to include this instruction.
If lawmakers don't target the makers of violent video games that,
to a person, these mass murderers have been shown to be obsessed
with, we the people must rise up and do the job ourselves. Better
yet, let some enterprising individual develop a game that trains
people in how to respond to armed attacks. Beat them at their own
As for the gun control issue, firearm dealers already have the
right to refuse a sale to a suspicious buyer, and many do. But we
can't expect all dealers to be psychologists. Nevertheless, dealers
should be held to a higher level of accountability where screening
of potential buyers is concerned. Various agencies -- the ATF, the
FBI and local law enforcement -- can put training in place to assist
dealers. If we are in a state of terrorism here, we must use all
means at our disposal to screen potential "terrorists." Proposed
legislation right now is pushing for a history of mental illness to
show up in the police background check.
[to top of second column]
Never again should it be acceptable simply to refer an individual
as troubled and as scary as Cho was for counseling. Our university
policies must have teeth, not just good intentions. We cannot be
afraid of offending a student. At least one of Cho's professors had
insisted he be put out of her class or she would go. He was on
suicide watch as far back as 2005. He was a stalker. Was that not
sufficient enough warning, along with his sick writings, that Cho
was a ticking time bomb?
One more thing disturbs me. Sadly, we have taught our young men
to be sensitive and passive wimps instead of manly protectors. All
it takes to turn the tables on an attacker is for one person to lead
a charge. Others will get up and follow. Only seconds exist in which
to make such a decision in scenarios like the one at Virginia Tech.
That is time enough to make a difference.
It's time to wake up and face reality squarely. No campus is
immune from the horror we witnessed at Virginia Tech. We will never
be able to put this evil back into Pandora's box. We can slowly
begin to turn our errant ship around. In the meantime, we must be
vigilant as never before.
My prayers go with the families whose loss is almost unbearable.
Healing may seem like light-years away, but I hope it comes for
them, as I hope awareness comes for the rest of us.
[Text from file received from
Debbie Thurman is an award-winning author and commentator who writes
from Monroe, Va. Her e-mail address is
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