Massacre began in a seriously deranged mind

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The second-guessing and finger-pointing were interrupted Wednesday as authorities and the public in general soaked in the information provided by mass-murderer Cho Seung-Hui himself.

Turned over to authorities by NBC, but not without lengthy broadcasts of its contents, the material shows just how mentally ill was the student who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., on Monday.

Thanks to modern technology, and the two-hour break between Cho's first murders and the other 30, we don't have to guess at his mental state.

He was obviously a deeply troubled youth, full of hate for his more affluent school mates, and suffering from delusions that he was being persecuted and was somehow destined to become a martyr.

Realistically, it appears that his instructors did nearly everything they could under the rules they are forced to follow. Certainly mental health policies and procedures will be reviewed, but what policy or procedure could have triggered an adequate response in this case, especially since Cho apparently had no history of actual violence.

Gun control advocates will use the incident to push for tighter restrictions on firearms, and certainly, someone like Cho who was at one point judged to be a threat to himself or others should not have been allowed to buy two handguns and multiple clips and ammunition.

But those who support the right of individuals to keep and bear arms contend that just one legally carried concealed weapon might have cut short the carnage. A law to permit just that, legally carrying a concealed weapon on college campuses in Virginia, was recently defeated in that state's Legislature.

And, while it's tempting to try to further restrict handguns as potential weapons of mass murder, why stop there? How about fertilizer, a drivers license and gasoline, or pilot training and box cutters?

In the end, it's not the means of evil, but the source, the power of an intelligent but deranged human mind, which should cause us most to be afraid.

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