Yesterday marked the fifth anniversary of the horrific shooting at Virginia Tech, where a mentally disturbed student named Seung-Hui Cho opened fire on his classmates, killing 32 and wounding 25 others. One of the victims was a Jewish Holocaust survivor and professor who used his body to barricade his classroom door to allow his students to escape. It was the deadliest shooting committed by a single person in American history.
The shooting highlighted problems with national gun control legislation, including a lack of state compliance with a federal law that should have stopped the mentally disturbed student from being able to purchase guns and ammunition. While this specific problem was fixed in large part as a result of the shooting, the lapse of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban in 2004 has allowed for the proliferation of guns that use high-capacity ammunition clips, such as those used in the shooting, which are designed to inflict as much damage as possible without the need to reload. For the first time since the attack, Virginia Tech held classes on April 16. There was also a statewide moment of silence at 9:43 a.m., the time when shooting in the classroom building began (Cho had shot two other students in a residence hall by that point). Certainly we have an obligation to remember the victims of this tragedy. Jewish values emphasize the sanctity of human life and teach that the loss of even one life is as devastating as the loss of entire world. But our responsibility extends beyond that, too: to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again. Image courtesy of The Washington Post.