People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Same Story. Different Outcome.

A crazed gunman stalks down the hallway, indiscriminately killing innocent students and faculty. Anyone unlucky enough to be in his path. First one of the college's deans, then a professor, and then a student. The madman shoots and wounds three other students, one in the stomach, one in the chest, and the third in the throat. A rampage. A massacre. A sociopath on the loose, slaughtering promiscuously and with impunity.

But this killing spree came to an abrupt halt. The gunman was subdued. And was hauled off to jail. Further loss of life was prevented. The death toll may have reached 32 but was held to 3. Tragic to be sure, but nothing like the carnage that took place on the Virginia Tech campus last Monday.

The difference?

At the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Virginia (just 95 miles southwest of Virginia Tech) on January 16, 2002, a mentally disturbed Peter Odighizuwa was dragged to the ground and held by three heroic students before he could wreak more devastation on the local populace.

Oh, another detail. The reason Odighizuwa abruptly ceased his murder spree and went to the ground in submission - two of those who were confronting him had guns of their own trained on him and they made it known that he was the next to die.

The students were armed.

The details, as told to columnist Larry Elder at the time by one of those who brought the wanton destruction to an abrupt end:

"We were located in the classrooms just across from where the first professor was shot. We heard the first three shots. At the time, we didn't really know that it was gunfire. Just a few seconds later, we heard the next three shots, followed by some screams. Another student and I went into the hallway. We ran into a professor and he said that Peter [the gunman] was in the building and that he was shooting. So I ran back to the classroom and, what students were left, I said you all need to get out – there's a shooter in the building.

"We exited out the back stairwell of our building. As I exited, that day I was running a little late, so I did park in a faculty parking spot, which put my vehicle between me and the shooter. We saw him in the front yard there. I stopped at my vehicle and got my handgun out.

"As we approached Peter, I started giving him a lot of verbal commands. ... I told him to drop his weapon, to get on the ground. ... His back was to us, and once he turned around and saw that I had a weapon, he laid his weapon down and stuck his hands in the air. At that time we approached him, and there was somewhat of a struggle, but we took him to the ground and handcuffed him until the authorities got there." (source) (my emphasis)

A campus shooting. One of many. Too many. But the death toll in this one, perhaps, wasn't as bad as it could have been. The outcome certainly wasn't as horrific as that which our neighbors in Blacksburg are trying to cope with today. Because a few students at the Appalachian School of Law (!) decided to not be victims. They had armed themselves. They saved lives.

At Virginia Tech? The only thing that prevented more butchery was the murderer deciding he'd had his fill, having killed 32 people, and blowing his own brains out.

Our politicians are turning their attention, now that the funerals and memorial services are winding down, to fine-tuning our layers upon layers of gun laws. They're befuddled by some loophole that exists, a discrepancy between federal law and state law regarding how crazy a person has to be before he's allowed to carry a loaded, multi-round, semi-automatic, high-power, high velocity, high-impact, devastatingly destructive firearm. Crazy enough to be considered deranged? Or even more crazy, enough to be sent to a shrink for psychiatric treatment. Such the dilemma.

They'll figure it out though, I'm sure.

And we will be the safer for it, you bet. At least until the next madman goes on a rampage, and scythes through another swath of guiltless humanity. Expect then, once again, for our leaders to go through that process of legislative review and policy tweaking. It's what they do. It's the only thing they know to do.

You have a say in all this, you know. Regardless what the politicians end up doing, you have a right, actually an obligation to yourself and to those you hold dear - to the entire civilized world - to decide whether or not you are going to be a victim. Or if you are going to be prepared, when that psychopath bursts through your door, to defend yourself with whatever means are necessary.

Tracy Bridges made that choice. And he and countless others who were on the law school campus that day in January 2002 live to tell the tale.

Fear Grips The Land

In the aftermath of the Virginia Tech Massacre, parents and school administrators around Southwest Virginia are running scared.

In Wise County:

Coeburn student removed after threat
The Coalfield Progress

Just two days after a student gunman killed 32 people on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, a Coeburn High School student was placed in a juvenile detention center for threatening to take similar action, local officials have confirmed. (link requires subscription)
Then over in Alleghany County:
CMS Incident Investigated
The Virginian Review

Low Moor — Alleghany County School administrators and sheriff’s deputies conducted an investigation of a rumor today that indicated that a student had planned to bring a gun to Clifton Middle School.

After questioning numerous students, law enforcement and school officials concluded that the rumor resulted from a misunderstanding, according to Bob Grimesey, Superintendent of Alleghany County Public Schools. (link)
And in Washington County:
Eighth grader accused with making threats
By News Channel 11 Staff Reports

Washington County, Virginia authorities have charged an eighth grader at E.B. Stanley Middle school with making threats against people over the internet.

According to Sheriff Fred Newman, the 14-year-old allegedly posted messages over the internet about plans to come to the school and harm more than one person at the school.

The teenager was arrested after school officials contact the sheriff's office about the incident. The juvenile is charged with a class 6 felony of communicating threats through electronic messages to do bodily harm on the grounds of a public school. (link)
It's not safe to go outside right now ... or so it seems

A Reminder

Join me at the book-signing event in Roanoke to help an injured firefighter on April 28. Details here.

I Get So Confused

There are those champions of civil rights out there who push for racial preferences in the workplace. To right past wrongs, or some such. Now there are champions of civil rights who are campaigning to end race preferences in the workplace. My head hurts.

The news:
Colorado takes aim at race, sex preferences
By Valerie Richardson, The Washington Times

Denver -- Civil rights advocates kicked off a four-state campaign yesterday aimed at ending government race and sex preferences by emulating the success of last year's Michigan ballot initiative.

Organizers are planning to promote similar proposals in Colorado, Missouri, Arizona and Oklahoma for the November 2008 ballot.

The proposed language of the Colorado measure mirrors that of earlier measures: "The state shall not discriminate against or grant preferential treatment to any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education or public contracting." (link)
Civil rights proponents are expected to line up against this measure. This civil rights measure ...

He Has a Good Point

We read the news this morning of the killing of nine soldiers in Iraq with sadness, just before we reach for the Wheaties, let the dog out to pee, and turn on the Today show to catch Al Roker's weather. Another day begins. Such is who we've become.

This soldier stationed in Afghanistan asks why:

Sgt. Unfurls a Flag Flap

April 24, 2007 -- Kabul, Afghanistan - An Army sergeant complained in a rare opinion article that the U.S. flag flew at half-staff last week at the largest U.S. base in Afghanistan for those killed at Virginia Tech but the same honor is not given to fallen U.S. troops here and in Iraq.

In the article issued yesterday by the public affairs office at Bagram military base north of Kabul, Sgt. Jim Wilt lamented that his comrades' deaths have become a mere blip on the TV screen, lacking the "shock factor" to be honored by the Stars and Stripes as the deaths at Virginia Tech were. (link)
A nation mourns the loss of students killed in a senseless act of violence in Blacksburg, Virginia. At the same time, a nation will hardly give notice to the loss of nine brave young American soldiers sent overseas to fight to maintain their freedoms who were killed in a senseless act of violence in Iraq.

We don't deserve the country our forefathers passed on to us.

Quote Of The Day

From the New York Post:
Fresh from his declaration that "this war [in Iraq] is lost," Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid is moving quickly to hasten America's unilateral surrender.

And to cast the Middle East into murderous chaos.

Reid yesterday promised that the Democratic-controlled Congress will within days pass legislation requiring U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq over the six months starting Oct. 1.

At the very least, Reid has to understand that his rhetoric can only encourage short-run insurgent attacks on Americans in Iraq.

Their blood stands to be on his hands.
"Reid's Bloody Hands," April 24, 2007

He Made A Difference

Yeah, he was a drunk. And yes, he wasn't all that bright. And he tended toward the slovenly. But in his time, he, along with Ronald Reagan, altered the global political landscape in a most profound way by putting the final nail in the coffin of both the Soviet Union and the economic theory known as communism.

And yesterday he died:
Boris N. Yeltsin, Who Buried the U.S.S.R., Dies at 76
By Marilyn Berger, The New York Times

Boris N. Yeltsin, the burly provincial politician who became a Soviet-era reformer and later a towering figure of his time as the first freely elected leader of Russia, presiding over the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the demise of the Communist Party, died yesterday in Moscow. He was 76.

Mr. Yeltsin left a giant, if flawed, legacy. He started to establish a democratic state and then pulled back, lurching from one prime minister to another. But where Mr. Gorbachev sought to perpetuate the Communist Party, Mr. Yeltsin helped break the party’s hold over the Russian people. Although his commitment to reform wavered, Mr. Yeltsin eliminated censorship of the news media, tolerated public criticism and steered Russia toward a free market. The rapid privatization of industry led to a form of buccaneer capitalism and a new class of oligarchs, who usurped political power as they plundered the country’s resources. (link)
Not a bad piece of work for an old drunk.

He's Coming Around

President Bush is learning how to play the game. Too bad he's six years into his term(s) in office to have finally grasped the concept but he seems to finally get it: Don't show your opposition weakness. Don't give them an inch.

From a conversation with the press yesterday:

Gonzales’s Testimony Satisfied at Least One Person, His Boss
By Jim Rutenberg and Neil A. Lewis, The New York Times

Washington, April 23 — President Bush said Monday that the Congressional testimony of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales last week, roundly panned by members of both parties, had “increased my confidence in his ability to do the job.”

Speaking during a short question-and-answer session in the Oval Office, Mr. Bush said of Mr. Gonzales’s performance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, “The attorney general went up and gave a very candid assessment, and answered every question he could possibly answer, honestly answer.”

Mr. Bush has repeatedly asserted his confidence in Mr. Gonzales, a longtime adviser, as criticism has mounted over the dismissals of eight United States attorneys. (link)

If I were a betting man, my money would be on the fact that the president never saw the committee hearing. But he knows what got him and the attorney general into the mess they're in. They came out apologizing for what amounted to (legitimate) political decisions that their subordinates had made. For the apologies, they got their heads handed to them.

There'll be no more apologizing.

If only President Bush had taken this approach with the hyenas in Congress years ago ...