Schieffer: Can We Accept Another Va. Tech?

Weekly commentary by CBS Evening News chief Washington correspondent and Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer.

Not since 9/11 can I remember a worse week than the one we have just experienced.

This week the death toll in Iraq went even higher; hundreds died as the government prepared to send more American troops into the war zone. Yet I don't remember even a casual conversation about that as the unimaginable tragedy unfolded at Virginia Tech.

Reporters love to cover big stories, but there was no joy in our Washington bureau which carried the biggest part of the load in covering the Virginia Tech horror — for our people, there was only revulsion and a sense of duty that such things must be covered.

It was what happened in the days and hours after the shooting that I found most depressing. In the wake of 9/11, people demanded action. This time it was different.

This time, public officials reacted with despair, even resignation — despair that no one seems to know what to do, resignation that these things are going to happen from time to time as long as guns are available to the mentally deranged, and because powerful forces oppose tightening the gun laws, there is just not much that can be done about it.

This is an enormously complicated subject. There is no magic quick fix, including more gun laws. But Virginia Tech must have shown us one thing: The current safeguards are not working, and unless something changes, it IS only a matter of time until what we saw — or something worse — happens again. The question that keeps running in my mind is: As a people, are we prepared to accept that?

E-mail Face the Nation.

By Bob Schieffer


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