April 21 / 22, 2007
How to Stop the Next Campus Shootings
Bring Back the Posse
By ALEXANDER COCKBURN
Since there undoubtedly will be a next time, probably in the not so
future, what useful counsel on preventive measures can we offer students
faculty and campus police forces across America?
There have been the usual howls from the anti-gun lobby, but it's all hot
America is not about to dump the Second Amendment to the US Constitution
people the right--albeit an increasingly circumscribed one -- to bear arms.
A better idea would be for appropriately screened teachers and maybe
monitors to carry weapons. A quarter of a century ago students doing
ROTC training regularly carried rifles around campus. US Supreme Court
Antonin Scalia recently recalled regularly traveling on the New York
system as a student with his rife. Perhaps there should be guns in wall
behind glass, at strategic points around campuses, like those fire axes,
usually with menacing signs about improper use.
Five years ago Peter Odighizuwa a 43 years old Nigerian student killed
faculty members at Appalachian Law School Dean with a semi-automatic
but before he could wreak further carnage two students fetched weapons
their cars, challenged the murderer with guns levelled ,and disarmed him.
When the mass murder session began in the engineering building the police
cowered behind their cruisers till Cho Seung-Hui finished off the last
his 32 victims, then killed himself. Then the police bravely rushed in,
sticking their guns in the faces of the traumatized students, screaming at
to freeze or be shot. Similar timidity was on display in Columbine, where
Harris and Klebold killed students in the library over a period of 15
and then committed suicide. The police finally mustered up the nerve to
the library over two hours later.
Years ago campus police were greeted as a welcome alternative to regular
hassling students and creating trouble.. But now they mostly are regular
hassling students, dishing out speeding tickets like the one the Virigina
campus police issued Cho. They were good at spotting a car going a few
over the limit, bad at protecting the campus from a smouldering psychotic.
The Virginia Tech terrible massacre should prompt a radical review of the
utility of SWAT teams which now infest almost every community in America.
time there's a hostage taking or a mass murderer on the rampage, one sees
same familiar sight: overweight SWAT men, doubled up under the weight of
costly artillery, lumbering along in their body armor and then hiding
trees or cars or walls while the killer goes about his business. SWAT
perform most efficiently when shooting down unarmed street people menacing
The answer is to disband SWAT teams and kindred military units, and return
the idea of voluntary posses or militias: a speedy assembly of citizen
volunteers with their own weapons. Such a body at Columbine or Virginia
might have saved many lifes. In other words: make the Second Amendment
to its promise.
In 2005 I listened to some earnest ACLU type at a meeting in Garberville,
hour from where I live, deliver a judicious speech about Taser guns--a new
for the cops, whereb y a person can be zapped with 50,000 volts. The ACLU
was torn. On the one hand, he reasoned that the Taser -- being
though not actually non-lethal -- is better than a 12-gauge or high
rifle. On the other hand, there is the possibility of "improper use". His
answer: more regulation. He didn't entertain the actual course of events,
namely that Tasers have now been added to the means whereby the police can
or terrorize people and that regulation will be zero.
The left complain about SWAT teams, but doesn't see that the progressives
a lot of responsibility for their rise. If you confer the task of social
invigilation and protection to professional janissaries--cops -- and deny
right of self and social protection to ordinary citizens, you end up with
of over-armed thugs running amok under official license, terrorizing the
disarmed citizens. In the end you have the whole place run by the Army or
federalized National Guard, as is increasingly evident now with the
of the Posse Comitatus laws forbidding any role for the military in
What should be banned from campuses are not weapons but prescriptions for
antidepressants. Eric Harris, co-slayer (with Dylan Klebold) of twelve
and a teacher in the Columbine school shootings in 1999, was on Luvox, a
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) of the same class as Prozac,
Zoloft, and Paxil. Initially Harris had been prescribed Zoloft, but told
doctor he was having suicidal and homicidal fantasies. So the doc shifted
16-year Jeff Weise, who killed 10 schoolmates at Red Lake High School on
Indian Reservation in 2005 was on Prozac. The manufacturer said 4 per cent
children in one of its tests of Luvox developed short-term mania. Other
of the SSRI anti-depressants have claimed they have a 15 per cent chance
prompting suicidal or homicidal reactions.
Cho Seung-Hui was on a prescription drug for his psychological problems.
exactly it was not yet been disclosed, though the likelihood of it being
anti-depressant is high, since doctors on campuses dispense prescriptions
them like confetti.
There was plenty of evidence that Cho Seung-Hui was a time bomb waiting to
explode. Students refused to take classes with him. His essays so
of his teachers with their violent ravings that she arranged a secret
another professor in case she needed security during her tutorials. It
may well have harassed female students and set fire to a dorm earlier this
year. Students talked about him as a possible shooter. Three weeks ago
were anonymous threats to bomb the engineering buildings. Come the first
slayings in the dorm and the cops don't raise the alarm or clear the
Make laxity in closely supervising and, where necessary, committing
psychotic students grounds for termination. More than one teacher felt Cho
scarily nuts. They recommended "counseling", then didn't bother to review
conclusions of the counselors. And now it has emerged that Cho was
institutionalised as a psychotic and eminent suicide risk in 2005. Yet
returned to campus the administrators didn't even tip off his room-mate to
on the watch.
College administrators live in constant fear of declining students
At the first sign of trouble and adverse publicity they cover up. So,
double killing in the dorm at 7.15am, after which Cho has time to go home,
his final home video, walk to the post office, mail off the video
NBC and head off to the engineering building with his guns. The school's
email to students goes out more than two hours later. The ineffable Warren
Steger, college president, said later "We can only make decisions based on
information you had on the time. You don't have hours to reflect on it."
dead bodies, a killer somewhere on campus, and Steger makes his big
As Lila Rajiva remarked here the other day, don't hire stupid
Learning to be an American: there are many ways, of which the Cho family
learned at least two: Cho's sister went to Princeton and now administers
reconstruction money for the State Department: a cog in the mighty wheel
empire. Cho raved that his victims brought it on themselves, and richly
deserved fire and brimstone. There are no innocent bystanders who should
spared. In practical terms this is the imperative of Empire too, as we see
every day in Iraq.
Anti-Depressants and Killers--A Sampler
Eric Harris was on Luvox and Jeff Wiese was on Prozac.
Kip Kinkle (Oregon), on methylphenidate and Prozac, killed four people,
including his own parents, and wounded at least 22 others.
Luke Woodham (Mississippi), on an SSRI, killed three people, including his
mother, and wounded at least six others.
Jason Hoffman (California), while taking the antidepressants Celexa and
Effexor, shot and wounded four students and two teachers. He later
suicide while incarcerated.
Cory Baadsgaard (Washington). On Effexor, he held 23 classmates and a
hostage with a rifle.
Elizabeth Bush (Pennsylvania). She blasted away at fellow students,
one. She was on an antidepressant.
T.J. Solomon (Georgia). He wounded six classmates. He was on
Shawn Cooper (Idaho). He fired two shotgun rounds in his school, narrowly
missing human targets. He was on antidepressants.
Jeremy Strohmeyer (Nevada). He raped and killed a 7-year-old in a ladies'
He was on Dexedrine.
Michael Carneal (Kentucky). He killed three students and wounded five
He was on Ritalin.