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Readers Debate Mental Health & Guns

The official report on the Virginia Tech shootings was released last night and has generated a discussion by our readers about who and what to blame. The report, from a panel appointed by Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), said lives could have been saved if officials had issued an alert sooner that a gunman was on campus and that the counseling center to which Cho was ordered by court a did not treat him. Kaine said nobody should lose their job, which some have demanded. Many of our readers who comment see this as a system failure, others criticize Virginia's mental health system in general and psychiatrists in particular, and some renew the argument that students should be permitted to carry guns into classrooms to defend themselves. Debate will certainly continue on this tragic event, which claimed 33 lives including Cho's.

Vunderlutz wrote that, "The brunt of the criticism should be directed at the lack of follow-through by the courts and the mental health professionals. But, all in all, this was a system failure and the blame, guilt and remorse are shared among many."

And jamalnasir_2000 said, "...this article makes it seem like VA Tech should have had a anti crime force of its own... This school just ended up being a victim of a screwed up/insane person. That can happen anywhere....example Columbine."

UncleWillie concurred, saying that "...the actions of a 1-in-a-million nut like this one remains unpredictable. As a result thousands will be subjected to more stringent rules and procedures which erode our freedoms and will fail to circumvent anything."

terryeo said "It is psychiatry that should be criticized...Treating someone so they kill people is simply not good medical practice... This idea of a psychiatrist using our tax dollars, treating Cho, prescribing Cho psychotropic drugs, and then not being held accountable for Cho's behaviour is beyond good sense."

edout2605 was among those who suggested that "...What would work is to allow those students and faculty that are trained and cleared to carry concealed fire arms. I know this won't happen but that has the greatest potential to help this situation."

said, "Va Tech did nothing wrong! College students believe they are invincible and would not have listened to any warnings to stay inside behind locked doors? This commission was another waste of taxpayer dollars."

Last word goes to DardenCavalcade1, who wrote, "In ALL of these tragedies, institutional failures abound and are a principle contributing cause... Commonwealth institutions failed serially and repeatedly to do their damn jobs. Virginia government constantly fails to exercise due diligence in governance: drivers licensing of the 9/11 terrorists, gun laws that provide a statistically significant number of firearms to professional criminals in the Atlantic states, failure to build and repair critical infrastructures, failure to educate, and now the slaughter at Virginia Tech."

All comments on the Virginia Tech report are here.

By Doug Feaver  |  August 30, 2007; 9:55 AM ET
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Posted by: Mohammad Ilyas | September 3, 2007 4:14 PM | Report abuse

America will do nothing once again even though 33 of her citizens(most children) were shot death.

I am afraid the American Nation will only consider any meaningful gun control. When an even more murderous incident occurs.

History teaches us this will with certainty happen again and again. Then when the numbers killed reach a total enough to shock american society. The 'Love of the Gun' may end.
Unfortunately the amount of citizens killed will have to be very..very...high.
and I am sorry to say my belief is that is exactly what will happen

Posted by: howee | September 1, 2007 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Personally, I think there is a strong link between male young-adult violence and electronic games with impulsive violent content.

Posted by: On the plantation | August 31, 2007 4:32 PM | Report abuse

We live in a sick society that feeds failure and punishes success. We are in open and covert conflict with just about every other country on the planet, and we wonder why people shoot each other in the US?

What's the difference between Cho and those who join the military, except that Cho wasn't paid to kill?

Posted by: Katharine | August 31, 2007 1:24 PM | Report abuse

The Virginia Tech authorities are largely responsible for the loss of life at the hands of Cho. They ignored his obvious pathological behavior. But, more to the point, the administration and operations people did not warn the students and faculty and others on campus that a double murder had occurred - until it was too late. (The man had time to run errands - to the post office no less.) What does it take to warn the population of any insitution when such a crime takes place: 4 murders, 6, ten? The president and responsible supervisors at the college should resign. They should be shamed in public. They are guilty of the worst kind of incompetence. From what I have read, they do not feel the least bit accountable. Better to tilt at the windmills of guns and mental illness. That will preoccupy everyone indefinitely, surely long enough for this to blow over.

Posted by: Britcher | August 30, 2007 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Despite the families efforts to assign blame, there is one insurmountable fact of life they need to come to grips with - in essence S*** Happens! In order to place the sort of restrictions on CHO necessary to "stop" him - it would trample the rights of thousands upon thousands of other citiznes who would be caught up under the same. Further if the university acted to lock down the campus upon every instance where there is a potential for danger, (inefficiencies aside) lock downs would so become a part of everyday life and essentially ignored. I am not saying the university was perfect, and we could play coulda woulda shoulda forever, but at the end of the day, blame rests squarely on Cho.

Its a sad fact that for every tragedy that occurs, the media and the victims go out and try to assign blame where it could not or should not have been assigned. I really do feel for the families, but they and everyone else need to realize that at the end of the day, there is no explanation other than S*** Happens!

Posted by: CRK | August 30, 2007 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Excuse me, but where do you come up with this slanted question? Over half of gun related crimes AND over half of all murders involving firearms occur in the black community! Of the remaining homicides, over 60%, 32% of the total murders in this country, occurs in the hispanic community. To put it in plain language, 83% of all gun related crimes, and nearly 90% of all violent crimes, occurs within the Hispanic or black community. Remove the gang-on-gang violence and toleration for criminal activies epidemic in those two communities and the United States has an overall violent crime rate that is less than half that in *any* European country! We don't have a "gun problem" nor a "mental health problem" (maybe we do, but its with the editorial board of this newspaper and the fanatics in the Brady Foundation), what we have is a social problem that is,and always has been,confined to two small minority communities. And, there is nothing we can do about it so long as those communities practice toleration for violence and gangs and will not talk to police or other authorities about the criminals in their community.

Posted by: MikeB | August 30, 2007 3:40 PM | Report abuse

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