My father and my brother both went to Tech, as did many of their and my classmates and acquaintances.
It was the place to go if you expected to be a farmer or an engineer (though today it is much more). Indeed, the Tech alumni on the Eastern Shore of Virginia are amongst the most active and most giving of any.
When my father was there, it was all military. That’s how he ended up in France as an officer, rather than as a private. (I remember how, when I was applying to college, I got an advertisement to sign up for ROTC. My father took it out of my hands and said, “You don’t need this.”)
When my brother was there, ROTC was an option. (My brother opted out. He wasn’t particularly keen on going to Viet Nam either.) He knows well both of the buildings where the shootings took place.
I have been on campus (which is filled with glowering gray stone buildings of unimaginitive monumental architecture), so I and everyone in my family feels some relationship to what happened there today.
God be with the students, family, faculty, and staff of VPI.
It appears that the shooter saved the Commonwealth the trouble of executing him. And, in Virginia, he undoubtedly would have been executed.
And, in a case like this, I really couldn’t get worked up about it. The problem I have with the death penalty cases is the inability of the legal system to find the guilty party. (That inability, though, is so pervasive as to invalidate the death penalty on practical grounds; that’s the difference between a moral argument and a practical one.)
No, it’s not a deterrent. Anyone who so argues is a fool or a sophist. Frankly, the bad guys don’t stop in the middle of a crime and think, “Now, wait a minute. I might get the chair for this!”
Rather, some persons simply forfeit their right to remain members of the polity.
Addendum, Later that Same Evening: