Compassionate conservatism

"People who have never met you are prayin' for you."

Published April 17, 2007 6:43PM (EDT)

At a convocation on the campus of Virginia Tech University this afternoon, Gov. Tim Kaine praised students for asking "how we take care of each other" before demanding to know what went wrong and who's to blame for Monday's shootings.

President George W. Bush took a similar approach, saying that while it's "impossible to make sense of such violence and suffering," it's important to remember that "those whose lives were taken did nothing to deserve their fate. They were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now they're gone, and they leave behind grieving families and grieving classmates and a grieving nation."

Bush, speaking with an eloquence that evoked his best days after 9/11, mixed talk of faith with fatherly emotion. He quoted a message from a student -- "We're all Hokies" -- and he told the students gathered in the hall: "People who have never met you are prayin' for you."

Over at the National Review, John Derbyshire is taking a different tack: "Where was the spirit of self-defense here?" he asks. "Setting aside the ludicrous campus ban on licensed conceals, why didn't anyone rush the guy? It's not like this was Rambo, hosing the place down with automatic weapons. He had two handguns for goodness' sake -- one of them reportedly a .22."

Keep talking, John.

"At the very least," Derbyshire says, students could have counted the shots and jumped the shooter while he was reloading. "Better yet," he says, "just jump him. Handguns aren't very accurate, even at close range. I shoot mine all the time at the range, and I still can't hit squat. I doubt this guy was any better than I am. And even if hit, a .22 needs to find something important to do real damage -- your chances aren't bad."

Is this for real?

"Yes, yes," Derbyshire says, "I know it's easy to say these things: but didn't the heroes of Flight 93 teach us anything? As the cliche goes -- and like most cliches, it's true -- none of us knows what he'd do in a dire situation like that. I hope, however, that if I thought I was going to die anyway, I'd at least take a run at the guy."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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