As Candians–no, as human beings–I think we can all empathize with the tragedy in Blacksburg, Virginia today given our own horrible memories of Montreal’s Dawson College last year and the École Polytechnique massacre in 1989. How awful that schools are places where gunmen (well, aren’t they always/usually men?) seem to open fire.
But vulnerable people congregate in schools, churches, libraries, stadiums. Sometimes they’re women, sometimes they’re engineering students, and sometimes they’re Amish children. That’s not their fault for congregating, nor is it the fault of the institutions. It’s the fault of sick people and it is the fault of legislation that makes it too easy to get assault rifles and automatic weapons, not to mention shotguns and bolt-action rifles.
There will no doubt be calls for increased security measures on campuses, and a lot of schools will respond dramatically to protect their students and their own reputations. But I do hope we will all take a breath and not destroy the free, open and vulnerable culture that schools represent.
And I hope that we will make it more and more difficult for people to buy guns.
Nobody will ever be able to stop sick people from doing atrocious things, but we can make it harder for them to get their tools.