Monday, April 16, 2012

Remember the Victims of the Virginia Tech Massacre

Today we note the fifth anniversary of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, where gunman Seung-Hui Cho, despite being diagnosed as dangerously mentally ill, was able to legally purchase his firearms and ammo without being caught by a background check, then went on a killing spree at Virginia Tech University.

When the gunpowder has settled, 32 people were shot dead, 25 were injured, and the gunman committed suicide.

HERE is a list of the victims from that day.

HERE is an interactive gallery of the victims, or see below:

One of those who survived the shooting is Colin Goddard, who has become a strong advocate for sensible gun regulation and is the focus of a documentary on the shooting, "Living for 32", which is still showing around the country and which showed in my area last year, with Colin giving a presentation.  It is very moving, and I strongly urge you to attend a viewing if you haven't yet.

Colin and the Brady Campaign to Reduce Gun Violence are having a couple days of activity in Washington, D.C., to convince lawmakers to pass sensible reform to reduce gun violence.

Here is a statement from their website:
As a survivor of the VA Tech shooting, the Brady Campaign’s Colin Goddard will lead other victims on April 16 and 17 to ask Congress: "Since 32 people are murdered with guns EVERY DAY in America, which day would be ‘appropriate’ for you to start talking about it and doing something about it?" 
On the fifth anniversary of the Virginia Tech shooting, which claimed the lives of 32 people, 32 victims from around the country will converge on Capitol Hill to hold our elected leaders accountable for policies that led to the worst mass shooting in American history and that keep the death toll rising daily. 
Following news conferences on Capitol Hill, The 32 will visit members to tell their stories and demand they defy the NRA and its deadly "guns everywhere" agenda. 
The 32 include: Columbine Families, Virginia Tech Families,Tucson Families, Police Officers, Parents who have buried their children, Children who have lost their parents, and others who have lost loved ones.
Link to media press release and schedule of activities:

Please join me in remembering this sad anniversary, and in helping to advocate for sensible reforms to keep such tragedies from happening again.  I urge you to contact your lawmakers and let them know you want reform now!

Since the 2007 VTU shooting, there have been at least 17 other shootings at colleges, universities, and community colleges in the United States, and that doesn't even touch shootings in high schools or lower grades.

To honor the Virginia Tech victims, please sign our petition to prohibit guns in Oregon schools and universities: go to Sign today and speak out for an education free from the fear of violence. We do not want loaded handguns in our children's classrooms.

I also urge you to go to the following website petition, sponsored by The Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus, to sign your name and call for action:

HERE is a video from Omar Samaha, whose sister, Reema, was killed in the shooting.  In it he endorses stronger background checks, particularly for adding to the list those who are dangerously mentally ill, like the shooter.

(source for VTU candlelight vigil image HERE)