A Brief History
On April 16, 2007, a mentally ill college student conducted a planned slaughter of classmates and faculty members before finally taking his own life. With good reason, the man would be ranked among “The Most Evil People in History“.
Seung-Hui Cho, age 23, a senior at Virginia Tech, was a South Korean who had emigrated to the US and was in the country legally. His middle school and high school years marked him as having mental problems, but privacy laws prevented the state or the university from being aware of his problems.
Cho’s problems continued into college, and he was referred for psychiatric evaluation, with a special justice declaring him mentally ill. Professors had reported his behavior and writing to be disturbing, and Cho was involved in stalking female classmates.
Since being adjudicated mentally ill should make a person ineligible to purchase or possess a firearm, it is troubling to find that Cho had otherwise legally purchased 2 semi-automatic pistols without failing the background check! Unfortunately, there was no comprehensive register of mentally ill people available, and Cho tragically slipped through the cracks in the system. He bought a .22 caliber pistol, and then complying with the Virginia state law of waiting at least 30 days before buying another handgun, then bought a 9 mm pistol. The magazines for the pistols held 10 and 15 rounds respectively. No assault rifles, no ultra high capacity magazines, no stolen or black market guns, just 2 otherwise legally bought common pistols.
Unfortunately for the students and faculty of Virginia Tech, the law that Cho broke was bringing firearms onto the campus, a law apparently the rest of them obeyed. Starting around 7 am Cho began his slaughter, shooting students and faculty alike. Cho killed 2 students in his first assault, but incredibly, no warning was issued, no evacuations were made, and Cho took a time out to change his bloody clothes, delete his e-mail and remove the hard drive from his computer, dispose of the hard drive and his cell phone, and mail videos of himself along with photos and a “manifesto” to NBC news!
Cho then returned to his deadly mission around 9 am by chaining and locking doors to a classroom building, and then going from room to room shooting people. Some of the students and faculty heroically barricaded and blocked the doors while other people escaped out windows. Some of the victims were these heroes that sacrificed themselves while others escaped. Before he was done, Cho had shot and killed 32 people (27 students and 5 faculty members). An additional 17 students were shot and wounded, and 6 other people were injured jumping from windows.
About 2 hours and 15 minutes or so after starting his rampage, Cho shot himself in the head and died. He had fired close to 200 shots, and had about 200 more unused when he died.
The nation was shocked by the carnage and the pro-gun versus anti-gun debate started almost immediately! Anti-gunners demanded every sort of gun control measure imaginable, while pro-gunners pressed for permission for faculty and students properly trained and licensed to be allowed to carry guns on campus. Many on both sides were baffled as to how a mentally ill person could buy guns and demanded a more comprehensive system of recording rosters of mentally ill people and providing such a “no buy” list to gun dealers. Of course, they were not figuring in the potential for abuse and breach of privacy that could result from such a program, and enough concerns were raised by civil liberties advocates that such a complete, thorough and available national register is still not in existence!
Obviously, the lawsuits afterward were inevitable, and Virginia Tech settled for $11 million for the families of victims and victims. Endowments and donations in the names of the victims were also made and will be a permanent part of Virginia Tech.
Question for students (and subscribers): Should students be legally allowed to carry concealed weapons at college? How about professors or other employees? Let us know what you think about this sensitive issue in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Bail, Joseph and John Giduck. Shooter Down! – The Dramatic Untold Story of the Police Response to the Virginia Tech Massacre. 2011.
Worth, Richard. Massacre at Virginia Tech: Disaster & Survival (Deadly Disasters). Enslow Pub Inc, 2008.