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Rights watch: "a very sound policy".

Magazine columns are poor places to discuss breaking news--the lead time between article submission and hitting the stands is generally months, and what's assumed as fact today can be dismissed tomorrow--or even later today--as unfounded.

Nevertheless, a column on gun rights would be remiss if the obscene Virginia Tech carnage went unaddressed, so let's begin with what's being reported on this grim day in mid-April.

An armed killer, presumed acting alone, shot and killed 32 people, mostly students and some faculty, and then killed himself. More are wounded, so we can only pray the death toll does not rise. Identified as Seung-Hui Cho, 23, a South Korean resident alien student, reports say he used two pistols, a Glock 19 and a Walther P22. The serial numbers were reportedly obliterated from both firearms.

Calls were made for the heads of Virginia Tech's president, and for the campus police chief, because the campus wasn't locked down after initial shootings, giving the killer opportunity to move to another building for the massacre. As expected, calls for more "gun control" poured in from the usual suspects: the Brady Campaign, the Violence Policy Center, politicians, the mainstream media....

What they left unsaid was university policy guaranteed Sueng-Hui could operate without resistance: Virginia Tech's Campus and Workplace Violence Prevention Policy specifically prohibits "the university's employees, students, and volunteers, or any visitor or other third party ... from carrying, maintaining, or storing a firearm or weapon on any university facility, even if the owner has a valid permit."

Naturally, "law enforcement" is exempted. Naturally, as at Columbine, the tactical teams crouching behind buildings and trees did not enter the facility in time to do anything other than carry out the dead and wounded.

And it's not like Virginia Tech didn't know--and dismiss--the concerns of others to change the policy. In August of last year, an escaped prisoner causing a campus lockdown motivated graduate student and CCW holder Bradford Wiles to write a letter to The Roanoke Times, imploring "I am qualified and capable of carrying a concealed handgun and urge you to work with me to allow my most basic right of self-defense."

Larry Hincker, associate vice president for university relations, positively dripped with ridicule for Wiles' plea in his rebuttal, using terms like "inane," and admonishing the student for not feeling safe with "hundreds of highly trained officers armed with high-powered rifles encircling the building and protecting him."

"Guns don't belong in classrooms," Hincker concluded. "They never will. Virginia Tech has a very sound policy preventing same."

Earlier that year, Virginia's House Bill 1572, which would have legalized college students and employees carrying handguns on campus, died in subcommittee.

"I'm sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly's actions because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel sate on our campus," a "happy" Hincker told the press.

No one should shift blame. There is one person responsible for the killings: the killer. But it's undeniable he was aided and abetted by policies that are at best misguided, and officials demonstrating unforgivable ignorance and arrogance.

Visit David Codrea's online journal The War on Guns at
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Author:Codrea, David
Publication:Guns Magazine
Date:Aug 1, 2007
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