The massacre that took place today at Virginia Tech in the USA reminds us once again of the consequences of the United States liberal attitude to gun ownership. The death toll from this tragedy seems likely to make this among the worst of all the seemingly regular gun massacres that take place in the US. On each occassion it appears that some warped soul chooses to go out in a " blaze of glory" by murdering scores of their fellow citizens in an orgy of murder.
In this case, the murderer Cho Seung-hui, a 23-year-old from South Korea, appears to have been triggered in his murder spree by the break up of a romance. It is reported that Cho Seung-hui was studying English and had been living on the university campus.
In a society without ready access to guns an individual locked into such a psychological spiral would in all probability not have the weaponry available to murder more than a few of their fellow citizens. Yet in the US guns are part of the culture and the individual has no constraint of this type on the mayhem that they can cause.
The gun lobby has been fond of saying "Guns dont kill, people do" and they are right. Yet this is the very argument for gun control. For when guns are put in the hands of people in this uncontrolled way then there will be a small proportion of people who in some psychological crisis will choose to use those guns on their fellow humans. Remember that on average over 80 people a day are killed by firearms in the US - a match for the daily toll of deaths in Iraq which gets so much media and public attention.
The questioning of Virginia Tech officials in the early press conference apppeared to concentrate on the issue of there being two incidents and whether the police and University authorities should have done more to "close down" the campus. Perhaps valid criticisms of the authorities may emerge from all this, perhaps not. The main business is grief and the identification of victims at this stage.
In the longer term the US media will however miss - yet again - the main issue however if they concentrate on such issues. They will conspire, perhaps unwittingly, with the gun lobbby who will be keen to see attention diverted from the main issue.
Whatever controls universities and others have in place, whatever emergency response plans institutions evolve, these events will be repeated some other time , some other place in the US.
Until the US gets to grip with gun control and greatly reduces the guns in private hands there will be repeat after repeat of these massacres.