Virginia Tech tragedy

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Apr 17, 2007 Virginia Tech tragedy

Firearms are no friend of mine. (Image from the Government Printing Office’s website.)

Virginia Tech is 270 miles southwest from me. Fourteen years ago, I stayed in a motel nearby there on the way home; the town seemed unremarkable.

Yesterday’s tragic events were repeatedly recounted on the news as I left a deposition in Kansas City, waited for Godot for my connecting flight from St. Louis to Baltimore, and checked the news on my cellphone.

My initial inclination was to limit this blog entry to express my horror over yesterday’s violence at Virginia Tech and to express my sympathy to the shooting victims and their loved ones.

However, expecting that this incident will be used in quick order for many people to advocate tighter security at academic institutions and tighter gun control, I offer these brief thoughts:

– The shooter(s) apparently are dead, and nothing suggests any cohorts of the shooter(s) exist who would return to the campus to do more violence. Therefore, this is the time to slow the train to judgment and action. There is time for the tragedy to be investigated, and hopefully the investigation will be skillful, professional, accurate, and without bias.

– When the media and public focus heavy, days-long attention to this and other record-breaking incidents of violence, that will influence future mass murderers to try to get into the record books. Certainly, people want to make at least some sense of yesterday’s insanity, in part by figuring out what motivated the shooter(s), so I do not expect this story to leave the headlines for several days, at least.

– All human life is sacred, and we must act accordingly whether a tragedy victim is caught up in a mass murder or in an event that does not reach the headlines.

– The American criminal justice system is over-criminalized. The most powerful way to reduce violence in society is for each person to reach out to others in need. Otherwise, rampant violence will continue, and convicting and jailing people for violent crimes will just be a band-aid that barely covers the wound, and that does little to prevent new wounds. Jon Katz.

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