Stop Armchair Quarterbacking the VA Tech Shootings!

Mere minuets had passes after the planes hit the World Trade Buildings and everyone was looking for someone to point the finger at. Now, with the VA Tech shootings people are asking probing questions about why the campus wasn’t locked down after the first two victims were shot. Can someone tell me how in the hell you are going to lock down a 2,600 acre campus with 30,000 people in it?

Everyone seems so quick to second guess the camps administration and police, suggesting that the community should have been told or the campus should have been closed down. What I don’t think these presumptuous pundants realize is that a shooter will always be able to find large groups of people on a college campus no matter how “locked down” it is. Had the administration canceled classes and somehow informed every student at VA Tech about the shooting, they would have all rushed to the nearest computer cluster and started emailing their friends. If they didn’t do that, they would have gathered in large groups to play hackie sack or some other group activity. The point is that people on college campuses tend to gather. When they don’t have classes, they tend to gather more. In all likelihood the shooter would have been able to find even larger groups of people to target had the campus been locked down.

I’m usually not one to stick up for the police, but in this case they did the right thing. When a person kills someone, they tend to run as fast and as far from the crime-scene as possible. The assertion that the shooter had probably left campus after the fist two shootings was reasonable and prudent. Ignoring the fact that it is logistically impossible to instantly notify 30,000 students of anything, closing down the campus would have most likely led to larger individual groups of students that could be more easily targeted. Americans really need to lose the habit of finger-wagging and blaming after something bad happens. The administration and police probably feel badly enough without having the whole country pontificating about what they should have done.

6 thoughts on “Stop Armchair Quarterbacking the VA Tech Shootings!

  1. I agree Cliff. Don’t get me wrong, this is a tragic event, and is cause for evaluation of the circumstances. But to immediately start blaming administration for not closing campus, etc is a bit harsh.
    I think in times of need, as everyone is in that community, people cope differently. Some need to point fingers, some need to go into seclusion, others need to gather together and proclaim that such actions will not be tolerated. My fear, from my continuing distrust of the media, is that finger pointing = ratings, so that is what will be aired.

  2. Amen, brother. I have been thinking the same thing for the last 36 hours — about how easy it is to armchair quarterback after the fact. The logistics that would be required in trying to shut down a small city like Va-Tech would be mind-boggling. It took trained US military personnel two hours to figure out what was happening on 9-11 when the entire world saw airplanes crash into the WTC and Pentagon… but the Va-Tech president was supposed to intuit that the first two shootings — which presented all of the appearances of being a possible domestic violence crime — would evolve into another shooting spree two hours later??? I don’t buy it — not for a single second.

    And I agree with you that he must feel badly enough without pig-piling atop him and the other administrators…

    To Mike M… I think people engage in finger-pointing because it has become an accepted side-effect of tragic events… I believe that if we shunned such unproductive exercises that people would be less likely to engage in it in the future…

  3. Jeffery writes:

    “I think people engage in finger-pointing because it has become an accepted side-effect of tragic events… I believe that if we shunned such unproductive exercises that people would be less likely to engage in it in the future…”

    I could not agree more. Somewhere along the lines the process of reviewing actions after the fact and looking for ways to improve the response should something similar happen in the future turned into second guessing everyone involved and lecturing them about what they SHOULD have done differently. This, of course, all done with the benefit of hindsight.

    I think those who are so quick to criticize need to really ask themselves how they would feel if put in the position of having to make fast decisions in the midst of a disaster. How they would feel receiving all the retrospective criticism after the fact. I believe if they thought seriously about this, they would realize how unproductive and harmful their armchair quarterbacking really is.

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  5. “Recent events on the campus of Virginia Tech, as horrific as they are, happen every day on a smaller scale all over the country. We recoil in horror at the shootings because of the numbers, not because people got shot and died. People get shot and die every day, and we don’t bat an eye. The truth is, events of this magnitude can be prevented.”

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