It’s been a long time since I’ve written, but I know I can’t blog as normal until I write about Virginia Tech. It would be cheating to just skip over such a huge event as if it never happened. Especially since I also have a link to it. So since the massacre has been covered in such depth by every major and minor news outlet worldwide, I’m going to tell it from my point of view.

I found out about the shooting at around 11:00 AM on the day of the shooting. It was a Monday, which I have off, so I had just gotten up and was sitting at the computer. Then I got a text message from my friend Jenn reading, “KARA IS OKAY!! There was a shooting at Virginia Tech. I luv you girlies!”

My friend Kara is a grad student at Virginia Tech, getting her master’s in composition and rhetoric. I immediately went on and saw everything — that 21 were presumed dead, and more were injured and unaccounted for. I got on AIM and saw Kara’s away message: “I’m okay. Please pray for the injured.”

I just stayed in my room all day, reading the coverage online but not watching anything on TV — I hate TV news when it comes to tragedies like this; they always try to drag the most horrible parts out as much as possible. The death count rose. And I just couldn’t believe it.

I had this vain hope that school shootings would be seen as a horrible artifact locked away in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Columbine being the cornerstone and foremost example. Then this had to happen, and my hope shattered. More than twice as many people were killed at Virginia Tech than were at Columbine. School shootings are still a reality, and they have become our most prominent example of domestic terrorism. Terrorism, loosely defined, is causing violence, death or any other kind of harm to the innocent, with intentions political or otherwise, for the purpose of instilling fear in others. These shooters don’t mean to instill fear — they mean to kill as many people as possible before taking their own lives — but the resulting fear across school campuses nationwide is a byproduct of the massacres. This is terrorism, plain and simple.

Now what?

I’ve been so upset the past week. I’m still in disbelief. And then I turn on the TV and they’re reading aloud from the tributes on the kid from Saugus’ facebook page, and I completely lose it.

Speaking of facebook, I’m very impressed by the support that everyone has given. I wasn’t surprised about how all the new groups popped up (there must have been several hundred when Steve Irwin died), but I wasn’t expecting everyone changing their pictures to the Virginia Tech logo and their school’s logo underneath with the message, “Today, we are all Hokies.”

There was one thing that I didn’t like — my friend’s reaction to one of the groups. There was a group whose name was something along the lines of, “Eternal rest to Cho Seung-Hui, O Lord,” and inside, it was basically people asking God to have mercy on his soul. Now, personally, I’m not into praying for people after their deaths (I pray for the families instead) — I don’t even think that I believe in hell, and I am DEFINITELY not in line with many of the Catholic Church’s beliefs. But I do agree with the general message of this group, though not overtly enough to join the group.

Cho Seung-Hui was clearly mentally ill, as much evidence shows. This poor kid had so many problems in his life, and combining those with his mental illness, he was a ticking time bomb. I feel sorry for him, and I know that if he hadn’t had this illness, that this shooting would not have happened.

So one of my friends joins the group, protests them from within the group, and then writes a facebook note trying to get people to join and yell at them.

Yeah. I don’t understand the point of joining a group just to yell at the group from the inside.

Do we honestly think that the shooter should be burning in hell? Do we think that he is currently burning at this very moment?

Even if I believed in hell, I don’t think he would be there. I don’t believe in black and white — that having sex makes you a bad person, that caring about the environment makes you a liberal, that falling in love with another country makes you anti-American.

I just think that the shooter was a kid who got dealt a very tough deck, and who was lacking a lot of things that we take for granted, like parents who paid attention, among other things.

Does this mean that I think everyone should be exonerated after death? Pedophiles and terrorists included? I don’t know. I honestly, truly don’t know. I need to think more about it. But I’ve always believed that people who are generally good at heart, underneath the mental illness, underneath the brainwashing, will be content in the life after death. Maybe hell is more like in Sartre’s Huis Clos than the proverbial images of fire: it’s just having to deal with a general, unending uncomfortableness ad infinitum.

This unfortunate event also brings gun control laws to light. A judge had previously ruled that Cho Seung-Hui was a danger to himself — yet he was still allowed to buy a gun. The only way he wouldn’t have been able to buy the gun was if he had been forced into a mental institution. Does nobody else see what is wrong with that?!?! Plus, to this day, the gun show loophole remains wide open. Anyone can go buy a gun at a show, few questions asked. How can we not have tighter gun laws?

Changing the laws does not mean we are taking away the right to bear arms! We need to be RESPONSIBLE because INNOCENT PEOPLE ARE DYING — and not just at Virginia Tech. The same number of people die each day in the inner city. Compare gun deaths per year by country: in Canada, the U.K., France and Japan, there are no more than ten or so each year. In the U.S., there are well over two thousand.

I honestly hope that some good can come out of Virginia Tech — that gun laws will be tightened; that schools will have better emergency evacuation plans; that more people will report an individual who seems so disturbed, like Cho Seung-Hui was; that mental health professionals will err on the side of caution when diagnosing. I hope anything can be done to keep school shootings where they belong: just a horrible trend that peaked in the late 1990s and early 2000s, rarely happening again.