Monday, April 16, 2007
Professor concerned about campus security
With my bag in one hand and a ticket in the other, I ran to catch the plane en route to Virginia Tech's campus. CNN Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and I were joining the throngs of reporters converging on Blacksburg, Virginia.

The plane was small and it seemed everyone was talking about the shootings at the university. A mother sitting next to me was talking on the phone to her daughter who has friends at Tech.

"This is so bizarre," she said. "Is everyone OK?"

The mother added: "Good. Honey, you take care. I love you and will talk with you when I land."

She hung up and took a deep breath. This mom teaches at a small women's college in Virginia and many of her students date people at Tech. She says it makes her worry about the security at her school. But she also said: Who would ever think this would happen at a college?

Tragically, we now know it can.

-- By Jen Pifer, CNN Producer
Posted By CNN: 6:16 PM ET
  13 Comments
This is just a tragic event. It's always a tragedy when innocent lives are lost, but the fact the the shooting at the engineering building could have possibly been stopped.
Why weren't classes cancelled!? There are going to be some serious questions asked of the President of the university and the police. We all need to pray for the families of those who have family who were killed or injured in this tragedy. This is truly a sad day for America.
Posted By Anonymous Nestor, Austin, TX : 6:42 PM ET
"Who would ever think this would happen at a college?"

Are you kidding me? I go to college in the heart of a major metropolis, and there are NO SECURITY MEASURES whatsoever. To top it all off, we share a building with government offices, and still I do not feel secure. Anyone can come on campus and do what they please. So, I am not surprised.

I have tried and tried to get the university to tighten security here; maybe now they will finally listen.

It is sad, though, that it takes such a tragedy to make people rethink things like this.
Posted By Anonymous Lynn, Chicago, IL : 9:06 PM ET
Just like the Columbine and Amish Schoolhouse tragedies, the Virginia Tech Massacre was carried out by a young man who was able to buy and use a gun. Columbine victims' families have made huge efforts to buckle down on enforcing stricter gun laws, just as Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine" did. The availability and use of guns is a huge problem facing American society, despite the views of those who hide behind the 2nd Amendment. Just think, if it were harder to get a gun (or even if there were more laws regarding gun usage) less people would die, and the Virginia Tech Massacre may have never occurred...
Posted By Anonymous Lauren, Greenville, SC : 10:19 PM ET
How can we honestly keep our campuses safe? Look at the deadliest campus shootings (Columbine, Texas, now Virginia). I honestly can only think of one maybe two that involved people that were not connected to the school. How is it possible to keep campuses secure when we are supposed to trust the people that we employ and have as students there? Putting up metal detectors could be one option, but what about the many attacks on campuses that don't involve a weapon? What can honestly be done about attacks that don't involve a weapon? There have been several attacks throughout Michigan campuses in the last year that have not involved a weapon. This makes me think that we can't ever be truly safe at this time in history.
Posted By Anonymous Colleen, Grand Rapids, MI : 10:49 PM ET
I have an answer for the mother and teacher that Jen Pifer refers to, and for Collen from Grand Rapids, and all of us who rightfully ask, "How can we honestly keep our campuses safe?"

But before I get to my answer, I have to ask you dear reader, and our leaders; how many more innocent people have to die? How many more times must this be repeated?

Obviously the laws on the book are not working and the current tragedy - over 50 victims, 32 of which are now dead - clearly shows that laws such as those where it is ILLEGAL to have a firearm (in this case on school property) only make it SAFE FOR THE CRIMINAL.

Even when properly trained, where law abiding citizens are prevented from the basic right of self-defense by carrying a concealed firearm; it signals to predators - criminals who don't care about LAWS - that this area is safe for THEM to commit their crime because those "scary" people trained in the legal defensive use of firearms are incapacitated here.

The majority of us who are civil and respect life are thus made MORE vulnerable while THE CRIMINAL is assured of THEIR safety.

Does any reasonable person out there really think that if a properly trained citizen - teacher, student, janitor or other law abiding citizen, who was properly trained and armed would not have prevented at least some of the 31 innocent deaths?

But don't take my word for it. Google for Dr. Suzanna Gratia's personal account of her watching, what was, until now, the deadliest mass shooting in the US at Luby Cafeteria in in October 1991 when 23 people were executed.

Dr. Suzanna Gratia survived, but had to watch while the assailant killed both of her parents. She also had a gun and was properly trained in its use. But because of Texas law at the time, she had left it in her car and was not able to get to it. Had she access to her gun, she could have easily shot and killed the predator without danger to others before he could murder any more of his victims. Had she access to her gun, she probably would have saved more lives that day than she did in her medical practice.

My point is that CRIMINALS - predators - do NOT follow laws.

The right to self-defense is one's personal right as well as responsibility.

The police almost never get there in time, how can they? In fact, numerous courts have ruled that they have no duty to any individual either.

Even the article at: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15111438/page/1/
notes that, "Myth No. 7. “If only we’d had a SWAT team or metal detectors.” "Despite prompt law enforcement responses, most shooting incidents were over well before a SWAT team could have arrived. Metal detectors have not deterred students who were committed to killing themselves and others."

So again, I ask, how many more must die? How many more times must this replay until law abiding citizens who are properly trained can legally carry defensive firearms to save their own and other innocent lives?

I know that Lauren, in Greenville, SC blames the 2nd amendment; and implies that stricter gun laws are the answer but I beg to differ.

One trained and legally armed person in that building could have stopped this massacre. We trust cops, why should we not trust our other fellow armed and trained citizens too?
Posted By Anonymous Bill in Gunnison, Colorado : 12:31 AM ET
Hi Jen,
Let's face it. Campus police just don't get routine sniper calls. Thank God! Who on earth would expect such a tragedy on a college campus?
Is this a sign of the times? There is so much violence toward humanity in the world. Could violence beget violence? Where will it all end?
Maybe we should all reach out to others in need with a kind heart and hand. Yes, that would be nice to see CNN report a rampage of kindness around the world. Well, I can dream.
"There are those who look at the things the way they are and ask why,. . . I dream of things that never were and ask, why not?"~ John F. Kennedy
Posted By Anonymous Betty Ann, Nacogdoches, TX : 12:33 AM ET
After incidents such as those at Columbine and Virginia Tech, the thing that worries me the most is the rush for more security measures. At the VT press conference, the president responded to a question of this nature by saying that having armed guards in each class wasn't an option.

On the other hand, this morning I heard a man speak of the continued violence in Iraq in spite of the robust military presence. Along the same line, isn't there violence in well guarded, locked down prisons? Although one may say these instances contain "violent" or "bad" elements, think about when you got into it with your sibling under the watchful eye of your parents.

Other forms of violence, such as those stemming from mental illness and suicide, don't resort to threats of punishment, they employ a simple, yet effective tactic: talking. Teaching people to know themselves and recognize their feelings and reactions through parent/peer involvement or even counseling is something that not only promotes understanding, but also doesn't need a law to implement. The only roadblock hindering this are the culture of those who criticize people expressing emotion.

My point is that as long as there have been humans on this earth, there has been, and will always be conflict. What's changed, aside from population growth, seems to be the level of understanding and desire of people to pass their problems to government to fix. In my opinion, legislation calling for increased security and anti-bullying (proposed legislation in Michigan) aren't necessary.What is necessary is that people need to take the iniative to look at themselves in order to recognize,understand,and learn to deal with the problems of everyday life in a way that everyone can agree with: through old fashioned communication.
Posted By Anonymous Brad Three Rivers, MI : 6:56 AM ET
STOP blaming Others!

I knew when the story unfolded that the College President would be a fault because they didn't act quick enough. STOP!

I also seen the makers of guns and the sellers of guns would be at fault. STOP!

The shooter is dead. No one else to blame. STOP!

First the College:
You alert 14000+ students that someone has been shot and killed and then try to keep all calm so you can find out what happened and who was shot and start looking for 1 out of 14000+ to arrest. Unless they have superman on the campus force I don't think they could have done this in a two hour time limit. Also The shooter would have had a lot of targets do to the on-lookers at the first scene and the toll might have been higher. If you think you could have done a better job, you should apply for the position.

Gun Makers and Sellers of Guns:

Maybe if we had stoped all use of airplanes in the U.S. 9/11 would have not happened. Will it happen again?
That is a silly statement!
Yet we find fault with Gun makers and sellers of Guns.

The only person we never point a finger at is ourselves. Our fault is the reason this happens. Parents today don't raise there kids, the babysitters or daycares do. Avg. kids spend more time outside of the home then they should. I see people blame the school system for failing there kids for things that should have been taught to these kids by there parents.

SECURITY MEASURES!
Don't work in America, but do they work in IRAN? with all IRAN does they still have problems too. As soon as you impose security upon people in the States the Freedom we have will be lost. So if you want a false security move to a Country that has them.

LOOK AT YOURSELF BEFORE YOU POINT FINGERS!!!!

Our Country has problems, there is no quick fix. We have spent billions on the war on drugs. Has it changed much. Yes the dealers got smarter, but the drugs are still there and it sure keeps alot of people employeed in this Country.
Posted By Anonymous Eddie Newtown,VA : 7:29 AM ET
I would like to point out that the shooter was a foreign national, which by law meant that he could not own or purchase a firearm in this country. That obviously did not stop him and it is erroneous belief to think that if all guns were illegal in this country, that crimes such as these would not occur. Marijuana is illegal, but can be obtained quite easily anywhere in this country, along with a slew of other illegal drugs. I do not believe that stricter gun laws would make much of a difference, all you do is keep the law abiding citizen's unarmed, had some of the students on campus been armed, there may of been far fewer deaths and injuries caused by this lunatic.
Posted By Anonymous Ted, Knoxville, TN : 10:09 AM ET
Eddie, Thank you for saying STOP!

I am so tired of the media sensationalizing events in order to create news for tomorrow. Their job is to report it, not make it up.

Does the media think those who lost someone yesterday really need to start thinking about blame? Do they not understand that all officials involved here have more important things to do than defend themselves? All this finger pointing makes me sick.

The only thing that should be reported is that this event is a tragedy, people were injured and killed, and the only person to blame for this is dead by his own hands.
Posted By Anonymous Will, Fort Wayne, IN : 12:28 PM ET
As the events on the Virginia Tech campus unfolded yesterday, I found myself drawn to the computer at work and CNN. Having worked as a University Police officer at Radford University, about 15 miles from Virginia Tech, where I spent 12 years involved in policing a university campus with the unique population of students, I knew that the blame would begin. I have heard so many comments that things should have been done differently, I want to ask.......before you comment, where you there? Where you there investigating the first shooting? Where you there trying to enter Norris Hall, where several of the exterior doors had been chained shut from the inside, so no one from the outside could enter???? Before you pass judgement, walk a mile in the adminstration and law enforcement shoes.
Posted By Anonymous Kris, Kalispell Montana : 9:57 PM ET
An elementary school that my daughter attends implemented last week a drill that they started practicing as of Monday morning.

New curtains for each classroom have been made by an attending teacher and are to be drawn and students are to hunker down under desk when a distressed call of "code dragon" is made across the loud speaker from the main office.

It's sad that this practice has to start in elementary schools, however I am not opposed to this, because one day my daughter will go onto high school and then onto college, then perhaps one day a high-rise office building.

She may need to know how to protect herself in these types of situations as she progresses through life. My hope is that she will never see this type of tragedy, however if she does, I hope she will remember what she learned so many years ago in elementary school.


God Bless all at Virginia Tech.
You are in everyones thoughts and prayers.
Posted By Anonymous Gerri, Moundsville, WV : 11:25 PM ET
I think this is not just about who can own a gun, but also with restrictions on where you can bring them in. I remember studying in a university from asia with the most strict and tightest security before one could get in a building. From confirming somebody's identification to metal/weapon detectors and a thorough check on suspicious characters, such terrible crimes were totally avoided. I noticed that most campuses in the US do not apply such practice. Any place could be victims of this type of crime if rules on accessibility to premises are lax and not managed well. Thousands of lives are at stake especially on campuses. Funding for serious security measures is definitely woth it!
Posted By Anonymous William, Colorado : 8:35 AM ET
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