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ISSUE 120 VOL 19 PUBLISHED 4/27/2007

Reactions to shootings

By Laura Groggel
Contributing Writer

Friday, April 27, 2007

Thirty-three students and faculty, including gunman Cho Seung-Hui, were killed early last week at Virginia Polytechnic and State University in Blacksberg. The tragedy hit the nation hard; colleges and universities offered their support, thoughts and prayers of encouragement. College students were killed unduly, without warning, and it reminded us of ourselves and ruled out the possibility of such a misfortune ever happening on a campus in this country. I’'m proud of how our campus reacted to the tragedy, but how is this incident so different from the homicides and suicides that occur everyday, whether on U.S. soil or not? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2004 the gun-related homicide count reached 11,624, not counting suicides and accidental deaths: a rate of roughly 31.8 gun-related homicides per day, uncannily like the number of fatalities last week at Virginia Tech.

Although tragedies in public education facilities are rare, people die every day by guns in America. Guns used for violence have become an epidemic. I’m not trying to pin the blame on the current administration for their “lax gun control policies,” nor am I trying to call for the overthrow of organizations like the National Rifle Association, as I believe pinning the blame doesn’'t fix a problem. I am calling on the current population to be dismayed, angered and at the same time saddened by the numbers we seem to get lost in. We seem to tolerate a level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization. We calmly accept reports of civilian slaughter in far-off lands and in places unknown to us, while reacting to others which occur nearer to home. We glorify killing on movie and television screens and call it entertainment.

The victims at Virginia Tech should be remembered as more than just statistics in a terrible news story. Each of them lived meaningful lives and were unexpectedly and unjustly struck down. Just like thousands of other Americans each year. Robert Kennedy’s words after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’'s assassination in 1968 that are still relevant today: “Whenever any American’s life is taken by another American unnecessarily –whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of the law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence –whenever we tear at the fabric of the life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded.”

Contributing Writer Laura Groggel is a junior from Omaha, Neb. She majors in music and in women’'s studies with a concentration in Africa and the Americas and in ARMS.

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