Re "Massacre at Virginia Tech: 33 killed on campus," April 17
As a professor at UCLA, I am appalled by the massacre at Virginia Tech, in my home state. I notice that President Bush's statement said nothing about how the ease of obtaining the two handguns might have contributed to the situation.
My guess is that the National Rifle Assn. will offer that, had all of the students and staff in that building been carrying their own handguns, the massacre would never have proceeded as far as it did. Why not bring in the gunfight from the OK Corral to our classrooms? If we did, then we wouldn't have to send our kids to places like Iraq to get killed.
What is wrong with a country in which having guns is a sacred right, and guns are used to settle everything?
It is always disturbing to hear about violence on a school campus. It does not matter if it's on my campus, across the country or on the other side of the world. It brings a tear to all our eyes and an unexpected moment of fear, and at the same time it plants a seed of trepidation.
Many teachers are somewhat afraid after hearing about violence in schools. We know it is going to occur again, but where? Tomorrow I will have to face my fears. I know someone will ask a question. I will walk into the classroom and have to stand strong, face my fourth-grade students and be prepared to have some kind of discussion on this tragedy while at the same time trying to reassure my students that they are safe, that they will be OK, that all the drills we practice will help them just in case. Just in case.
As, in the next few days, we indulge in every gory detail of the murders at Virginia Tech and witness the outrage and horror that every American feels at this senseless act, it might be interesting to imagine for a moment what we would feel like if this same event happened again tomorrow and the next day and the day after that. How would we cope with this level of senseless killing? Yet that is exactly what Iraqi citizens are forced to endure every day of their lives as they have become, for the most part, prisoners in their own homes. It might just behoove us, as we go through our own national nightmare, to understand just a little the terror that lives in their hearts.
Re "Vigils, vigilance on campuses," April 17
Instead of focusing on improving security measures to prevent violent acts on campuses, the article should have focused on the need to improve mental health services for young adults across the United States. This tragedy signals the need to address mental health; if not, we miss the whole picture. Before the young man stepped onto the Virginia Tech campus and started shooting, red flags were there but ignored. Yes, this was preventable, but not solely with security.
Hyper-vigilance of campus security is an acute remedy; improved provision of mental health services for young adults would be a more effective intervention.
Re "One-sided talk on gun control," April 17
Apparently it is less trouble in some states to purchase a firearm than it is for me to buy a box of Sudafed. Something is drastically wrong here.
The shooting in Virginia will now result in thousands of letters demanding gun control, right? Wrong. The control should be on the ammunition. Without the bullets, the guns are useless. Control the sale of the ammunition.