Bloggers on the deadliest school shooting in American history.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
April 16 2007 6:06 PM

Tragedy in Blacksburg

Bloggers are analyzing the tragedy at Virginia Tech and pondering Alberto Gonzales' leaked testimony.

Tragedy in Blacksburg: At least 33 people, including the gunman, are dead in Blacksburg, Va., after a gunman opened fire first in a dormitory then in a classroom building Monday at Virginia Tech. It's the deadliest shooting spree in American history, claiming more than twice as many victims as the 1966 University of Texas sniper shooting. Virginia Tech President Charles Steger called the shooting a "tragedy of monumental proportions." The Washington Post collected eyewitness accounts from students.

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Two campus media outlets, the Collegiate Timesand Planet Blacksburg, have posted updates on the developing situation. At Daily Kos, FleetAdmiralJ live-blogs from campus, providing a glimpse into the early conflicting reports and confusion. And many Facebook groups (registration required) are already cropping up in memory of the victims.

Hokie Brian Hollar at Thinking on the Margin is sad for his alma mater: "I lived in Pritchard Hall for two years, not far from Ambler Johnston Hall where one of the shootings took place. Most of my mechanical engineering classes were in Randolph Hall next to Norris Hall where the other shootings took place. This is very real to me." Many bloggers echoed Hollar's sadness, but others used the shootings as a launching point for larger issues, including gun control and if the media are to blame.

The conservative at Snapped Shot tells those liberals calling for gun control to simmer down, as Virginia Tech had already banned guns on campus. "In short, don't start blaming this on our 'gun culture.' I can assure you that our very liberal colleges have no such thing. This is the action of someone who's clearly got criminal intent, nothing more." Conservative Steve at Hog on Ice blames that gun ban for the high death toll: "This lunatic knew he could shoot until the police arrived. In a sane world, he would only have been able to shoot until a student or university employee produced a firearm. ... The beauty of privately owned guns is that they work while the cops are still across town," he opines.

Chuck Muth at conservative group blog Noisy Room weighs in: "Suddenly state Sen. Bob Beers (R-Las Vegas) bill allowing properly trained teachers to carry guns on campus to protect themselves and their students doesn't seem so 'radical' after all, does it?"

A somber Andrew Sullivan demurs: "What is there to say except pray for those murdered and for those who survived the rampage? I guess we'll find out more soon. I should add I don't think this is a particularly appropriate time to argue that gun control may have been part of the problem."

At Coming Back to Kabul, Virginia Tech alum Zohra recalls the Columbine tragedy and blames the glorification of violence by the media: "It's crazy how you can be on the other side of the world, in a sleepy college town in the middle of the Appalachian mountains, and experience the same sort of senseless violence that occurs in a place like Kabul. My heart goes out to all my fellow Hokies. … When this is all said and done, we will likely have an unhappy young person who probably had an unhealthy obsession with guns, violence, gory video games, and over the top blood fest movies. There is a pattern, and we are stupid to fail to recognize it."

At Blogging Stocks, Sarah Gilbert ruminates on the future of campus security: "While most of the dead were shot in classrooms, which at most public institutions have always been open to the public during class time, it brings a question for me: will this change the way campuses deal with security in dormitories? … [A]s so many colleges are housed in grand old buildings, they're often difficult to secure fully. Will a tragedy like this put many of our university security offices at a much-heightened level of awareness? Will classrooms soon be put in lockdown?"

Read more about the shootings at Virginia Tech.

I, Alberto Gonzales: In anticipation of his (now postponed) congressional hearing, Alberto Gonzales penned an op-ed in the Washington Post, and the Justice Department released portions of his prepared testimony Sunday. In his op-ed, Gonzales apologized for "allowing this matter to spin into an undignified Washington spectacle."

Liberal Matthew Yglesias views Gonzales' testimony and op-ed as ineffectual. "At this point, however, there's so much circumstantial evidence that there was such a campaign and so much evidence of a coverup by the White House … it's very hard to see how Gonzalez can offer a 'measured apology for his mistakes in the dismissal of eight United States attorneys.' Which mistakes? Apologize for what? Either the line has to be that US Attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president and therefore it's perfectly appropriate to fire them for refusing to serve naked partisan interests and there's nothing to apologize for, or else he needs to own up to what happened."

At the Carpetbagger Report, liberal Steve Benen is gleeful in anticipation: "Gonzales may or may not realize it, but he's in the midst of a major, multi-faceted scandal. Tomorrow, he's walking into a buzz saw of scrutiny. Carefully crafted apologies, followed by a faulty memory and buck-passing, isn't going to impress anyone. … If Gonzales expects to get away with expressing regret for an 'undignified Washington spectacle,' he's going to be very disappointed."

Over at Captain's Quarters, Ed Morrissey holds that Gonzales' initial statements on the controversy should have been combed over as finely as his testimony.  "[I]f Gonzales and his crew had done this kind of preparation from the start - like, say, reviewing the documents in their own possession before making contradictory public statements and testimony -- we wouldn't be here now."

Read more about Gonzales' op-ed and testimony.

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