America's Liberal Guns Laws Come Home to Roost

The fact that a lone gunman inflicted so many fatalities and injuries during the Virginia Tech campus massacre is prompting questions about the kind of weapons used and the ease with which they could be brought inside.

What is also causing considerable discomfiture is that the gunman was of South Korean origin who recently arrived into the country and could gain access to such weapons. If some of the eyewitnesses interviewed on the American media are any guide, the shooter interspersed his firing with frequent laughter probably indicating that he was delusional.

As the full extent of the massacre - that also killed an Indian American professor - began sinking in among the campus community and outside the horrific shootout is expected to trigger yet another round of debate on gun control, which is a politically sensitive issue throughout America.

The right to bear arms is held dearly by a vast number of Americans who, according to some estimates, own as many weapons as there are people in the country. The pro-gun control lobby will find a great deal of ammunition in pushing for drastically reducing access to weapons by citing the fact that even a new arrival to this country can acquire one and cause so much damage in terms of human life.

Initial police reports suggested that most of the killings were carried out using handguns by the shooter who eventually blew his own face off. A student who was interviewed on the National Public Radio (NPR) Wednesday morning said she heard shots being punctuated by laughter. It was most likely that it was the shooter who was laughing. After a short while, the student said, the laughter stopped and so did the shooting.

The killer apparently concentrated on a class in Norris Hall, where the German language was being taught, media reports said. That may partly explain the high casualty figures because the killer had a captive target.

There are already speculations why the gunman blew his face off, an action some witnesses said he carried out from shooting himself from his head. It was almost as if even in his last ghastly action he was defying the world to identify him.

Virginia Tech has a strong community of Indian students. According to the Indian Students Association (ISA) website with 500 members it is the largest international group. Efforts to call some of its office bearers were unsuccessful Tuesday morning as their phones were switched off. With a virtual lockdown on the campus many students have faced problems returning to their dormitories.

Although the life the day after is far from normal on the campus, there is a scheduled convocation at 2 p.m. Wednesday, which is likely to be attended by President George W. Bush.

"Schools should be places of sanctuary and safety and learning," is how Bush described the tragedy. "When that sanctuary is violated, the impact is felt in every American classroom and every American community."


More by :  Mayank Chhaya

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