Students and faculty returned to classes
at Virginia Tech University, one week after the worst mass-shooting spree
in U.S. history. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports from
A bell on the Virginia Tech campus tolled 32 times for each of the
shooting victims in last week's massacre.
Students observed a moment of silence for those who died at the hands
of Cho Seung-hui and carried white flags and released balloons into the
air as memorials to the victims.
Tech students were given the option of returning to class or spending
the rest of the semester at home without academic penalty.
Many students decided they were ready to return to classes.
"I think it is important to return to school and, you know, to show the
nation and ourselves that we can continue despite this," a student said.
"We need to be here as a community and we are not going to get better
if we just run away from everything that happened last week," said another
University officials requested that reporters stay away from students
once classes restart, following an intense period of national and
international media coverage last week.
Meanwhile, a debate over gun control has intensified.
Most members of Congress appear reluctant to push for new restrictions
on weapons in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings. But there is a
growing consensus that the gunman responsible should not have been allowed
to purchase weapons.
Republican Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania supports stronger
enforcement of background checks that would deny guns to those who have a
history of mental illness. Specter spoke on Fox News Sunday.
"There is no doubt that current law prohibits giving a gun to a person
who is mentally defective, who has a mental problem of the nature that he
had. So there was a definite failure of communication and that ought to be
changed with federal legislation," he said.
Some conservatives argue that a student or professor who was armed
might have been able to stop the massacre at Virginia Tech.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told ABC's This Week
programme that calls from Britain and Australia to toughen U.S. gun
laws will have little impact on the gun control debate.
"I would also point out that in countries that have had absolute bans,
Great Britain, Australia, gun violence has actually gone up because the
criminals end up buying illegal guns, but the law abiding, honest citizen
is, in effect, disarmed," he said.
But Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker questioned Gingrich's
contention that allowing students to carry guns would make classrooms
A state medical examiner said an initial autopsy of the gunman, Cho
Seung-hui, found no brain abnormalities that would explain his rampage.
The examiner also said Cho fired more than 100 bullets into his victims
and that some of them were shot several times.