What If...?

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by Chuck George by Chuck George

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What if… three or four students/faculty on the second floor of Norris Hall at Virginia Tech had had weapons concealed on their persons?

Well, perhaps there would be two or three or several people dead in the first classroom Cho entered; or perhaps not. If one of the students carrying that day was in that first room that day, and if she were well trained, perhaps the only casualty in that building would have been the professor, who apparently was the first victim, victim of the first shot except for the earlier episode in the dormitory.

What if… it were well known, even advertised, that carry was allowed, even encouraged, on that campus?

Well, it seems that Cho was pretty disturbed, so maybe he would have started out just as he did. Perhaps he would have been more circumspect and would have given up the idea or never would have had the idea in the first place. Or perhaps he would have used a bomb (?suicide bomber) or poison gas or self-immolation in front of Burris Hall (administration).

But Virginia Polytechnic Institute had reduced the possibility of anyone defending himself in kind from firearm assault. With a decades old rule against gun carrying on campus, which had been recently been enforced against an unnamed student who was otherwise in compliance with the law…, permit, concealed, etc.

The policy has been questioned as possibly illegal because the University is a State of Virginia institution and the policy modifies and restricts the State carry law.

Also, the policy has recently been under fire in the legislature with a couple attempts to pass legislation specifically to allow carry on campuses.

What if… this sign were displayed prominently about the campus?

SIGN:

Weapons carried by persons of ill-intent: NOT ALLOWED GUNS carried legally WELCOME

Well, the nay-sayers, the gun-control crowd, the pessimists, would be saying that there would be gun-fights on the Drill Field every day…; just as in the old westerns, about which such behavior has been disproven (and here), and as in downtown Blacksburg or Roanoke or D.C. or New York. The only difference being that the gunfights in the cities are mostly carried out by people without permits, with illegally acquired weapons, by people who probably couldn't get a permit because of their records, and are drive-by shootings with only one intended victim and often one or two collateral damage victims.

Granted, Cho had a permit, but its legality is questionable and had all the processes been in place he wouldn't have had that permit nor would he have been sold the guns. If he hadn't had the permit and couldn't have bought the guns legally it's fairly clear he could have obtained them illegally.

So, why not give the victims a chance?

What if… Ryan "Stack" Clark, the student resident assistant in Ambler Johnson Hall, probably the second victim had had, had been required to have, and had been trained in the use of an effective handgun?

Well, he might have been able to subdue Cho, probably by killing him, as he (Stack) rushed to the aid of Emily Jane Hischer, presumably the first victim. He might not have been able to subdue him; he might have lost and have been killed. He wouldn't be any worse off than he is. And he would have had some chance, better than bare hands, maybe 50-50 or better, to save himself and 30 other people.

What if… Emily Jane Hischer had had her permitted hand gun, and good training in self-defense, in her hand when she went to her door?

She might have been able to get the drop on Cho. She might have been able to save her own life and Stack's life, and the lives of 30 other people. She might not have been able to.

What if… Kevin Granata, professor in bioengineering, had paused briefly to snatch up his (nonexistent) legally permitted handgun concealed in his desk in compliance with VTech's (nonexistent) non-restrictive rules before he ran down to the second floor from his third floor office in Norris Hall in response to the shooting on the second floor?

He might be alive today. He might have been able to save many, or a few, or even just one, of Cho's victims plus himself. But he didn't have a legally permitted handgun concealed in his desk, nor in his hand, as he ran down those steps. He died. Twenty-nine others, and Cho, died with him.

Chuck George [send him mail] is a retired orthopedic surgeon in Alabama.

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