FLASHBACK: VT student implores officials to allow self-defense; gets rebuffed

The April 16 massacre wasn't the first shooting scare at Virginia Tech this college year. Nor are emerging questions over whether or not students should be allowed to bear arms for self-defense new.

In August of 2006, an escaped jail inmate shot and killed a deputy sheriff and an unarmed security guard at a nearby hospital before the police caught him in the woods near the university.

On August 31, VT graduate student Bradford B. Wiles wrote an eerily prophetic commentary about his experience that day:

    On Aug. 21 at about 9:20 a.m., my graduate-level class was evacuated
    from the Squires Student Center. We were interrupted in class and not
    informed of anything other than the following words: "You need to get
    out of the building."

    ...It was at this time that I realized that I had no viable means of
    protecting myself.

    Please realize that I am licensed to carry a concealed handgun in the
    commonwealth of Virginia, and do so on a regular basis. However, because
    I am a Virginia Tech student, I am prohibited from carrying at school
    because of Virginia Tech's student policy, which makes possession of a
    handgun an expellable offense, but not a prosecutable crime.

    I had entrusted my safety, and the safety of others to the police. In
    light of this, there are a few things I wish to point out.

    First, I never want to have my safety fully in the hands of anyone else,
    including the police.

    Second, I considered bringing my gun with me to campus, but did not due
    to the obvious risk of losing my graduate career, which is ridiculous
    because had I been shot and killed, there would have been no graduate
    career for me anyway.

    Third, and most important, I am trained and able to carry a concealed
    handgun almost anywhere in Virginia and other states that have
    reciprocity with Virginia, but cannot carry where I spend more time than
    anywhere else because, somehow, I become a threat to others when I cross
    from the town of Blacksburg onto Virginia Tech's campus.

    ...I would also like to point out that when I mentioned to a professor that
    I would feel safer with my gun, this is what she said to me, "I would
    feel safer if you had your gun."

Wiles' commentary was responded to in an op-ed written by Larry Hincker, Assoc. Vice President of University Relations at Virgina Tech.

WARNING: In light of the April 16 massacre, Hincker's snide, ignorant and insensitive commentary will be extremely disturbing to some. Click 'Read More' at your own risk.

Excerpts from the op-ed follow:

    September 5, 2006
    Imagine if students were armed

    By Larry Hincker (Assoc. Vice President of University Relations at Virginia Tech)

    After the fear, and dare I say, panic from the events of Aug. 21, it is absolutely mind-boggling to see the opinions of Bradford Wiles ("Unarmed and vulnerable," Aug. 31).

    I once worked for an out-of-touch manager who gave rather absurd directions. My colleagues and I would do as directed and dubbed it "malicious compliance," knowing the task to be inane and the manager's foibles would soon be apparent.

    The editors of this page must have printed this commentary if for no other reason than malicious compliance. Surely, they scratched their heads saying, "I can't believe he really wants to say that."

    ...The writer would have us believe that a university campus, with tens of thousands of young people, is safer with everyone packing heat. Imagine the continual fear of students in that scenario. We've seen that fear here, and we don't want to see it again.

    ...Guns don't belong in classrooms. They never will. Virginia Tech has a very sound policy preventing same.

'Imagine if students were armed', Mr. Hincker? That is all we are left with. It is no longer necessary to imagine what happens when they are not.

UPDATE: Bradford Wiles has spoken out in the wake of the massacre, and stands by his August 2006 comments. Larry Hincker, on the other hand, appears not yet to have addressed his ominous comments of last fall. From CNSNews.com:

    On Tuesday, Wiles stood by that opinion in the wake of this week's massacre, telling Cybercast News Service that "the only way to stop someone with a gun is somebody else with a gun."

    "The entire campus was a place where someone knew they could inflict the most damage with the least amount of armed resistance, and that's what you get with gun control," Wiles said. "If you let people like myself carry a gun legally ... then you have the possibility of stemming the tide."

    Wiles, who wasn't near the campus buildings where Monday's shootings took place, said he doesn't believe an armed student could have prevented all of the bloodshed. But, he added, "even if just one person is not shot by that gunman because somebody had their legally licensed concealed firearm on them, isn't that enough?"

UPDATE #2: On Monday of this week Hincker was trying to explain to news crews from all over the United States how a murderer had managed to bring not one, but two guns to campus. Those reporters either didn’t know about Hincker’s “very sound policy preventing (guns in classrooms)” or didn’t think it was polite to ask how the deadly South Korean English major had apparently managed to keep his two guns in the on-campus dorm where he lived, or bring them into classrooms where he methodically executed defenseless students and faculty. From HumanEvents.com:

    "He was a loner, and we're having difficulty finding information about him," Hincker said.

    I do seven hours of live talk radio every day, and was willing to give Hincker the time to explain how his policy forbidding concealed carry of weapons by law abiding students had done the campus no good on Monday. But Hincker’s voicemail was full and he wasn’t answering email...

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