“Terrible” has lost its old sense of being full of terror. With the Virginia Tech massacre, I am reminded of the smaller but no less horrifying campus shooting that occurred at the University of Iowa when I lived in Iowa City in 1991. A psychotic asshole of a physics grad student killed five people and paralyzed-for-life a young woman I knew (I had danced with her a couple of months before).
College towns are often small places, even with tens of thousands of undergraduates. It was a snowy, blustery day; I’d actually taken a half-day off from work, and walked past the physics department building like I did everyday. I knew Jo Ann Beard a little, too: she worked for the physics professor who was killed that day. She later wrote this essay, the signature of her collection The Boys of My Youth, http://www.courses.vcu.edu/ENG101-pas/fourthstate.htm.
The Iowa City murderer had two handguns. There’s still no word yet on what the killer in Blacksburg was armed with, but with 34 dead (so far?), he was probably armed with at least one automatic weapon. Thanks to the gun fetishists, the profiteering manufacturers of death, and their slaves in Congress, such devices of human slaughter are plentiful.