COMMENTS: Back to School

The gist of the reporting from Blacksburg Va was the contrast between today's normalcy--students returned to class with an attendance that approached 80%--and the carnage exactly one week previously. "Gunshots," mused ABC's Mike von Fremd (subscription required), "were today replaced by peaceful chimes." Professor Susanna Rinehart told him of her nightmare that she would be teaching to an empty class of theater students. She burst into tears when her fearful dream did not come true. CBS' Sharyn Alfonsi saw "students reclaim their campus" after eleven minutes of solemnities. "The university took time to pause, remember and then get back to work," as NBC's Tom Costello put it.

ABC News conducted an opinion poll over the weekend on gun control and found 83% support for tightening the ban on sales of firearms to mental patients with diagnoses similar to that of the student killer Seung-Hui Cho. ABC's George Stephanopoulos expected passage of such a measure, since the National Rifle Association supports it, "but no new laws beyond this." NBC had Pete Williams look In Depth into the mental health provision of gun control laws. Virginia, far from having lax laws that allowed Cho to buy his guns legally through a loophole, actually has stricter laws than any other state: the FBI calls the commonwealth's system "the best in the country." At least half of the states--including Texas, Illinois, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Georgia--do not report any mental health data whatsoever to the federal background-check database. The Supreme Court has ruled that reporting such background information is "voluntary."


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