Va Tech: How Pols and Lobbies Play the Tragedy
The Washington Post, Commentary, by Marc Fisher, 18 April 2007

"Immediately when tragedy strikes, the nation's most finely-tuned industry--the great American publicity machine--springs into action.

Here's a look inside a reporter's in-box in the first hours after the Virginia Tech shootings:

A pro-gun group called blasted Virginia Tech administrators for opposing bills in the Richmond legislature that would have erased rules banning students from carrying guns on college campuses: "It's not illegal in Virginia for 21 year old+ college students and staff holding concealed handgun permits to carry concealed handguns to class; but college "rules" have long threatened students and staff with expulsion or firing if they legally carry a gun on campus. And for the last two years, Virginia Tech and other VA college bureaucrats have successfully lobbied the VA General Assembly by opposing & killing follow the lead of Utah and nullify these dangerous college rules."

Gun advocates were even quicker and more aggressive than gun control groups to jump onto the tragedy. Larry Pratt, the northern Virginia man who leads the Gun Owners of America, offered himself up for TV and print interviews, noting that he was prepared to appear on talk shows to say this:

'When will we learn that being defenseless is a bad defense? All the school shootings that have ended abruptly in the last ten years were stopped because a law-abiding citizen -- a potential victim -- had a gun. The latest school shooting at Virginia Tech demands an immediate end to the gun-free zone law which leaves the nation's schools at the mercy of madmen.'"