Fifteen years have passed since the shooting at the Appalachian School of Law. In that time period there have been approximately 31 school shootings in the U.S., resulting in the deaths of 126 people and the wounding of another 98.
In the case of my family, the scars are still there. Danny Dales, Angie’s father, died in January 2013. His health deteriorated sharply after his daughter’s death and he never recovered. Her mother, Sue, has moved to be near her son and his family. Our granddaughter has graduated from college with honors and is headed to graduate school. Our son no longer blames himself for not being in the student lounge to protect Angie. His recovery from Angie’s murder was long and costly. It took a good six years of support and thousands of dollars in medical bills to get him back on his feet.
In the intervening years, Virginia has not done nearly enough to make our schools safer. The state had the worst school shooting in this nation’s history: April 16, 2007, Virginia Tech 32 dead and at least 17 wounded. The parallels between the state’s two shootings are staggering: ignored warning signs, failed leadership on the part of school leaders on the day of the shootings, massive cover-ups, and in the case of the Virginia Tech rampage, out-and-lies on the part of the Virginia Supreme Court concerning who was in charge of the investigation on April 16, 2007. In other words, gross incompetence has been covered over, and the gun show loophole has not been closed. It is now easier than ever before for people who are a danger to themselves and others to buy a gun in Virginia.
In the case of the Virginia Tech shooting, the state spent over $675,000 to have a company who does business with the state to write the analysis of the shooting determining if the state’s largest university was culpable: an obvious conflict of interest and waste of taxpayers’ money. In the case of Columbine, the report was written at no cost by the panel that did the investigation at no cost. In the case of Sandy Hook, the report analyzing that tragedy was written by the state’s Attorney General’s office at no extra cost to the taxpayers.
In Virginia, the state hired two public relations organizations to spin the tragedy in order to do minimal damage to Virginia Tech. The firms, Firestorm and Burson-Marsteller, were paid a total of $813,000. Neither Colorado nor Connecticut needed to hire public relations firms to manage the media because they had nothing to hide.
In Virginia, the lies persist. (To be continued)