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The Tragedy Hits Close To Home

The shooter as well as several of the victims of yesterday’s tragic massacre at Virginia Tech are graduates of my children’s school district. I know people who know them. My twelve-year-old watched a video featuring holocaust survivors in his history class yesterday. At just about the same time he was watching the video, one of the survivors, Professor Liviu Librescu, was giving his life to save his students.

Perhaps it was a blessing that yesterday we were without power due to the wind storm so I wasn’t inundated with information about this horrific event. Today I feel overwhelmed as the enormity of the loss sinks in. As I drive around town I get all teary eyed every time I see a Virginia Tech bumper sticker. I don’t know if the person in the other car is intimately connected to the shootings. I wonder if he or she is grieving. I keep offering a silent prayer, just in case.

I mentioned below that my son was waiting to hear the fate of two of his friends. Prayers are answered and they are physically safe and sound. Emotionally, it will be a while before any of us are really sound.

Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Annandale, VA will be hosting a Holy Hour to pray for the victims as well as their family and friends this Sunday evening at 7:30 pm. Please join us in prayer. It is really the most powerful response we have.


seamus said…
On October 16, 1991, in Killeen, Texas, George Hennard entered a Luby's Cafeteria and shot and killed 23 people, wounded 20 others and then killed himself.

Luby's Massacre

Dr. Suzanne Hupp, a young chiropractor, was one of the few survivors of that massacre. There to have lunch with her parents, her folks were not nearly as lucky as was she. As you will hear in the following video, Doctor Hupp watched in horror as this crazed gunman took the lives of her mother and father, as well as the lives of 21 others.

Dr. Suzanne Hupp's Testimony Before The United States Congress (I apologize for the poor quality of this video.)

Dr. Hupp, then a gun owner who lawfully kept a revolver in the glove box of her truck, was nonetheless prohibited, as per the laws of Texas at that time, from carrying that firearm on her person. Dr. Hupp is an ordinary civilian with no military or police training. That fact notwithstanding, and has Dr. Hupp has stated many times in the years since then, if she had access to her weapon, many lives that were otherwise lost that day would have been saved.

Shortly after the Luby's Massacre, and despite a previous lack of political ambition, Dr. Suzanne Hupp sought and was elected to a seat in the Texas Legislature. Upon taking office, Representative Hupp sponsored legislation which eventually became law and which allowed law-abiding, properly-trained Texans to obtain licenses to carry concealed weapons (CCW licenses).

Like 39 other states in the Union that have done so since 1987, Texas has adopted a "shall issue" approach with respect to the issuance of concealed weapons licenses. Shall issue means that, upon proof of proper training, unless you are prohibited from obtaining a CCW license by virtue of one of the specific reasons spelled out in the statute itself (e.g., a felony conviction, a history of mental illness and/or substance abuse, physical inablility to safely handle a firearm, any domestic violence incidents, dishonorable discharge from the military, etc.), if you apply for a CCW license, the state "shall" (must) issue you that license.

By contrast, in New Jersey, for example, you must first convince your local police chief, the county prosecutor and then a Superior Court Judge that you "need" such a license/permit. Suffice it to say, and other than hunters walking around the woods, virtually no one in New Jersey other than cops or members of the military may lawfully carry firearms outside of their home, place of business or the local gun range. New Jersey's laws with respect to CCW permits are a lot like the rights "guaranteed" under the old Soviet constitution: They exist on paper only.

The CCW law that Doctor and (then)Representative Hupp sponsored remains on the books to this day. Not a single state that has gone "shall issue" (e.g., Pennsylvania) with respect to its CCW laws has ever changed course and gone back to being a "may issue" state (e.g., New Jersey) or a never issue state (e.g., Illinois). On January 1, 2007, Kansas and Nebraska became the 39th and 40th states respectively to adopt the shall issue approach.

Unfortunately for the students of Virgina Tech, Virginia also has similar concealed weapon laws on its books. I say "unfortunately" for one reason: Schools and Universities are one of the few places where concealed weapons license holders may not lawfully carry their weapons. In their desire to create feel-good, "gun-free zones," legislators have created areas where criminals and madmen alike can terrorize their victims with virtual impunity, knowing all too well that gun control laws are only respected by the law-abiding (e.g., CCW license holders). Criminals hell-bent upon evil are not at all deterred by those very same laws. As Dr. Hupp is quick to point out, none of these horrific mass killings that we have seen recently (e.g., Columbine) have ever taken place in anything other than a "gun-free" zone.

Dr. Suzanne Hupp Debates Paul Helmke of The Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence (Monday Night, April 16, 2007 -- This video is about 6.5 minutes in length.)

Incidentally, firearms are used far more often for defensive purposes than they are ever used in the commission of crimes. Indeed, according to at least one study, firearms are used as many as 2 million times a year for defensive purposes. Please see:

Armed Resistance to Crime:
The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense with a Gun
Seamus said…
It goes without saying that my prayers are with the victims of this horrible crime, their families and their loved ones. Indeed, our local newspaper, The Asbury Park Press, has just reported that one of the victims hails from the same county in which I live. Please keep Julia Pryde and her family in your prayers.

BREAKING NEWS: Middletown North graduate killed in Virginia Tech shooting
JLF said…
It's surprising how far reaching these tragedies can be. I know no one in Virginia, but I've spent two days praying for the victims, the shooter, and their family, friends, and classmates.

Today I discovered how it affected me personally. I walked into my college classroom this morning and wondered how I could protect myself and my students if there was a threat to our safety. I wonder if any of them considered the same thing.

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