Submitted this for the Chronicle Viewpoints section nearly a month ago, but it was never published so it has languished in my mailbox.
The Virginia Tech tragedy has been blamed partly on lax gun control laws, bad decision-making by university officials, and even loose immigration restrictions in the eyes of a few poorly-informed individuals. I am not prepared to conclude decisively that stricter gun control is needed, but to those who suggest that this incident could have been stopped if guns were allowed on campus, my response is: What about the Columbine or Amish school shootings? If you can barely trust your child to drive a car, why would you give him a handgun? How can we arm high school students, much less 7-13 year old girls?
Realistically, not much can be done to stop a well-prepared killer who is unafraid to die. I would like to offer a suggestion for media organizations, however, that may have a deterrent effect on copycats: Stop publishing glamour shots and martyr videos. If you must publish the killer’s picture, use an ID photo rather than one containing props or weapons, preferably the most unflattering one available. I have not watched the Cho video yet, nor do I plan to read the one-act play he wrote, which I am told is utter garbage. Broadcasting videos like his gives the killer some celebrity status and a death-transcending soapbox that is entirely undeserved. The victims of this rampage never had a chance to say goodbye to their loved ones so why would we even consider giving this punk the last word?