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Mass murder at Virginia Tech

Another sickening random shooting spree has taken the lives of more than 30 people at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, VA.

My niece was accepted to a graduate program there, but ended up enrolling elsewhere. I can imagine what I’d be feeling if she’d been there.

Such events are an all-too-common feature of life in the United States. And they aren’t unknown in other places, of course. What makes this one especially gut-wrenching is the high death toll.

Updates:

The killer, who committed suicide, has been identified as a 23-year-old South Korean student at the university.

A professor at Virginia Tech– 76-year-old Liviu Librescu– was killed when he threw himself in front of the shooter to protect his students. Librescu was a Holocaust survivor who left Romania in 1978 to settle in Israel. He had been teaching at Virginia Tech for more than 20 years. Zichrono livracha.

Further updates:

The killer bought a 9 mm Glock 19 pistol and 50 rounds of ammunition at a Roanoke gun store after an “instant background check that probably took about a minute.”

He wrote two plays with “twisted, macabre violence” for a class at the university, according to a classmate. They are posted online, but I have no intention of reading them. The classmate writes:

He would sit by himself whenever possible, and didn’t like talking to anyone. I don’t think I’ve ever actually heard his voice before. He was just so quiet and kept to himself. Looking back, he fit the exact stereotype of what one would typically think of as a “school shooter” – a loner, obsessed with violence, and serious personal problems. Some of us in class tried to talk to him to be nice and get him out of his shell, but he refused talking to anyone. It was like he didn’t want to be friends with anybody.

And:

“There were several of us in English who became concerned when we had him in class, for various reasons. And so I contacted some people to try to get some help for him because I was deeply concerned,” Lucinda Roy, one of Cho’s professors said.

At the very least, shouldn’t there be a way to prevent such people from buying guns and ammunition in a minute?