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Video: VA Tech Massacre Survivors, Relatives Debate Guns on Campus, Background Checks with VCDL

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The above video, from the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, was taken on Thursday, November 17th, at Virginia Tech. As the press release explains, the video shows “[s]urvivors of the Virginia Tech massacre and their family members” debating “the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) – a radical pro-gun group that seeks the elimination of all gun laws, including background checks.” According to Omar Samaha, whose sister Reema was murdered in the Virginia Tech mass shooting, “guns be banned on college campuses…[and] we must have universal background checks on gun buyers that adequately screen mental health history.” According to Colin Goddard, who was  shot four times during the massacre, “The reason that Virginia’s college campuses are some of the safest places in the Commonwealth is in large part because of their strict policies concerning firearms.” Finally, Lori Haas – whose daughter Emily was shot in the head but who thankfully survived the massacre, “It’s unfathomable that the VCDL would advocate for the elimination of background checks on gun buyers in the wake of what happened at Virginia Tech.”

As you can see in the video, the VCDL members disagree with these arguments. Why? Apparently, it’s based on their belief that more guns on campus means more safety, not less. In addition, it appears to be based on their perception that the current system for background checks and gun permits in Virginia adequately protects the public from the mentally disturbed, who almost everyone would agree shouldn’t have access to guns. Unfortunately, as the Virginia Tech massacre demonstrated, and as pointed out in this video by Lori Haas and others, that simply isn’t the case in Virginia at the present time. To the contrary, as pointed out repeatedly in the video, it’s extremely easy for just about anyone to get firearms, a concealed carry permit, whatever they want, with minimal if any background checks.

P.S. Click here for the Collegiate Times live blog of the event.

SURVIVORS OF VIRGINIA TECH MASSACRE TO STAND AGAINST RADICAL PRO-GUN GROUP TOMORROW ON VT CAMPUS

Blacksburg, VA- Survivors of the Virginia Tech massacre and their family members will be on the VT campus tomorrow, Thursday, November 17th to rally with students and faculty for a gun-free campus. Simultaneously, the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL)-a radical pro-gun group that seeks the elimination of all gun laws, including background checks-will be at the Squires Student Center (College Avenue on the Otey Street side) between 11:30 AM and 4:00 PM calling for legislation to force the university to allow the carrying of loaded guns on campus. Virginia Tech survivors will engage in a counterprotest at the same location to demand that VT be allowed to continue to set its own firearm policies without outside interference.

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli issued an opinion last summer that said public colleges must put official regulations in place to ban guns in campus buildings. George Mason University has already adopted such a regulation, which was upheld by the Virginia Supreme Court on January 13, 2011. In that ruling, Justice S. Bernard Goodwyn noted that previous Supreme Court opinions do not “[cast] doubt on laws or regulations restricting the carrying of firearms in sensitive places, such as schools and government buildings. Indeed, such restrictions are presumptively legal.” Larry Hincker, the head of university relations at Virginia Tech, has indicated VT will follow GMU’s lead soon and enact a regulation. In response, VCDL is calling for state legislation that would prohibit VT and all other Virginia universities from enacting their own regulations, thereby preventing them from ensuring the safety of their students and faculty.

Students for Gun Free Schools (SGFS) founders Colin Goddard-who was shot four times during the Virginia Tech massacre on April 16, 2007-and Omar Samaha-whose sister Reema was murdered in that mass shooting-are two of the violence prevention advocates who will participate in the counterprotest at VT tomorrow. “The Virginia Tech Review Panel studied this issue more closely than anyone, and they got it exactly right,” said Samaha. “They recommended that guns be banned on college campuses and stressed that we must have universal background checks on gun buyers that adequately screen mental health history.”

“The reason that Virginia’s college campuses are some of the safest places in the Commonwealth is in large part because of their strict policies concerning firearms,” Goddard added. “VCDL is not concerned about the safety of the student body or faculty. They are not even listening to the student body or faculty. This is about the desire of a select few to dish out vigilante ‘justice’ as they see fit without regard to the potential collateral damage.”

“It’s unfathomable that the VCDL would advocate for the elimination of background checks on gun buyers in the wake of what happened at Virginia Tech,” added Lori Haas of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. “The extremists in the VCDL contribute nothing to the academic community in the Commonwealth. They have no business telling students, faculty, and administrators how to run college campuses.” Haas’ daughter, Emily, was shot in the head during the tragedy at Virginia Tech but survived.

Goddard, Samaha and Haas are inviting VT students and faculty-and all concerned Virginia residents-to join them at the counterprotest at the Squires Student Center tomorrow between 11:30 AM and 4:00 PM to show their opposition to guns on campus. “Our college classrooms are places for learning,” said Samaha, “not places for violence. If VCDL truly cared about others’ welfare they would be acting to make sure the violent and deranged can’t gain easy access to guns. Their true agenda speaks volumes.”

This post is written as part of the Media Matters Gun Facts fellowship. The purpose of the fellowship is to further Media Matters’ mission to comprehensively monitor, analyze, and correct conservative misinformation in the U.S. media. Some of the worst misinformation occurs around the issue of guns, gun violence, and extremism, the fellowship program is designed to fight this misinformation with facts.