4-16-07

One year ago today, I was at work when someone came running in talking about a school shooting.

My first thought was- oh, geez. Not again. When will the madness end? Luckily, nothing like that ever happens in our neck of the woods- Roanoke, Virginia- right?

Of course, you know how it turned out. Roanoke, Virginia is a Hokie community; it has been for the last sixty years. To you sports fans out there, the Hokies are more adored in Roanoke than the Green Bay Packers are in NE Wisconsin- and that's saying something. The community pride in the school and it's position in the community is deep and heartfelt.

So when the tragedy broke a year ago, our hearts broke, too. We were all Hokies; this tragedy hit us all very deeply and profoundly. The entire city of Roanoke shut down for two days; Blacksburg and Christiansburg for the better part of a week. And those wounds will take decades to heal, if ever. To have Virginia Tech become such an integral part of the American lexicon in the same way Columbine has- that will never go away.

Today, the city is a sea of mauve. There's memorials services going on- I'm about go to attend one- and try to grieve as a community, even one year later, hoping these wounds will heal.

Whatever your religious persuasion, even if you have none, keep us in mind this evening, say a prayer, have a moment of silence; whatever is important to you. For the victims; for the families; for our community; but, most importantly, for the hope that nothing like this will ever happen again.

Thank you.

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Polls Show Declining Power of Gun Lobby

Gun Lobby's Declining Pull
By Glenn Hurowitz

Even in the wake of a shooting as horrific as the Virginia Tech massacre, the gun lobby still looms very large in Washington. Neither the congressional leadership nor any of the leading presidential candidates have indicated that they're going to bring up gun control legislation that could prevent guns from getting into the hands of people like Cho Seung-Hui - or the criminals who used guns to kill 11,624 Americans in 2004 alone. "I hope there's not a rush to do anything," said Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid.
It's not that most Democrats think that common sense gun control measures don't make sense. It's that they've bought into the notion (peddled aggressively by the National Rifle Association) that any support at all for gun control is political suicide.  
It's an old Washington trick: if you can't win a policy debate on the merits, convince politicians that a certain policy will help them get elected. And the NRA has been a master at this gambit. During the 12 years in which Republicans controlled Congress, lots of pro-gun candidates won big with the NRA's vocal support.
But are those victories actually attributable to the gun issue - or were there other factors at work as well?
Public opinion data suggests that the gun lobby has played only a very small role in determining election outcomes; indeed, there's a strong indication that support for reasonable gun control measures actually boosts performance at the polls, even in relatively conservative districts.

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