Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Poignant Reminder: Five Years On

Five years ago yesterday was the Virginia Tech Massacre.  The core problem was the destruction of our mental health system, but as one of the parents of a victim reminds us:

On April 16, 2007, my child, Leslie Sherman, was killed by Seung-Hui Cho
during the Virginia Tech massacre.  Today is the fifth anniversary of
her death.  Always in my memories, every day I wish that this tragedy
was a nightmare and I could wake up to hold my daughter even if it is
just one more time.  That opportunity might have been possible if
someone been able to defend and protect my daughter in her classroom
before Cho took 30 precious lives.
There is an unfortunate drive for more gun control and the continuation
of preventing guns on campus by parents whose children lived or survived
during that fatal day.  Several family members of those victims have
actively voiced their support for increased gun control measures.  As
result, it has been assumed that they speak for all families of the
Virginia Tech victims.  I am writing this to make it clear that this is
not the case.  They do not represent me and my views.
Speaking for myself, I would give anything if someone on campus; a
professor, one of the trained military or guardsman taking classes or
another student could have saved my daughter by shooting Cho before he
killed our loved ones.  Because professors, staff and students are
precluded from protecting themselves on campus, Cho, a student at
Virginia Tech himself, was able to simply walk on campus and go on a
killing rampage with no worry that anyone would stop him.
I ask a simple question:  Would the other parents of victims be forever
thankful if a professor or student was allowed to carry a firearm and
could have stopped Seung-Hui Cho before their loved one was injured or
killed?  I would be. I also suspect that the tragedy may not have
occurred at all if Cho knew that either faculty members or students were
permitted to carry their own weapons on campus.  Cho took his own life
before campus police were able to reach him and put a stop to his
killing spree.
A sad testament to this anniversary date is the number of similar
killings in schools and public places that have taken place afterwards
as if nothing has changed to help prevent such needless and
heartbreaking events.  That is why I fully support the VCDL in their
outstanding efforts to help prevent this type of tragedy and loss from
occurring in the future.
 Holly Adams
Let me assure you, I would love nothing more than to never have to worry about that when I teach my students.  We really need to fix the core problem, and that is the destruction of our mental health system.  But there is something a lot scarier than a madman on a rampage--and that is waiting 20-30 minutes for police to show up, and hoping that he doesn't get to my classroom.

I spend a bit of time thinking about contingency plans in my classrooms.  I examine where all the exits are, where they exit to (outside the building or into a hallway?)  I consider which tables and desks could be used to construct barricades at the door.

At the start of the semester, I see if the doors use levers or knobs.  Levers can be disabled by putting a chair under the interior lever, making it difficult or impossible to open the door.  Layers of desks can be used as bullet stops, especially if they are at 60 degree angle or more to the likely direction of incoming bullets, where you get some deflection of the bullets.  (If the madman has a centerfire rifle, even this is not likely to help much. Shotgun or handgun caliber, yes, this might save some lives.)

This angers me, that our society won't fix the root problem, won't allow myself or other responsible adults to at least have the option of defending myself, my students, and my fellow employees, if something like this happens.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When I sat in a large lecture hall, I always sat at the disability table at the back corner of the room.

In the event of a madman coming into one of the doors at the front of the room, I would have a clear aisle toward the front doors, to make either a run at being a bodily kinetic threat, or at least a very noisy distraction.