http://www.collegiatetimes.com/stories/2009/01/27/column__absolute_safety_is_impossible by Jeremy Baker, regular columnist Tuesday, January 27, 2009; 9:04 PM Last Wednesday evening police responded within moments to reports of an assault at the Graduate Center's cafe. They secured the GLC. They caught the guy who did it. VT Alerts fired off hundreds of thousands of calls, texts and e-mails with the alacrity of lightning. If you take away nothing else from this tragedy, it's important to understand that this was the most flawless performance of the VT Alerts system to date, and then realize that none of that mattered to Xin Yang. A basic fact of life is that we can never be completely safe anywhere, unless we are willing to make the kinds of sacrifices Ben Franklin scorned. It's time for President Charles Steger and the university administration to acknowledge the inherent flaws in the VT Alerts system and act accordingly -- meaning it's time that students licensed by the state of Virginia to carry a concealed handgun be allowed to do so on campus. As one of many people who have lost a friend to gun violence, this is not a call I make lightly. Guns are not a perfect solution. It's dubious at best to say that a responsibly armed citizen would have been the solution Wednesday night, because from what I understand, it was over before anyone could react. But ever since April 16, the administration has tried to sell us on the idea that all guns are evil, and you can see the seeds of this irrational anti-gun bias in the non-reasons given for their willful inaction that morning. One of the main reasons cited for not closing the campus that day was that it's, well, difficult. Especially when students are trying to, you know, get to class and stuff. This is plausible if you assume the police forgot the presumptive lessons learned from William Morva's escape on the first day of the fall semester, when they had already cancelled classes by the time I tried to take the bus to my first that August morning. The other reason was that they were already questioning Karl Thornhill, a "person of interest" not only because he was Emily Hilscher's boyfriend, but also because he was a gun user. Since it was obvious that he was the murderer, we students didn't need to know anything until a few minutes before the final murders began. But even after the truth came out, the tough questions were never asked of the administration and police very loudly or for very long. Tim Kaine swept them out of the way through committee, everyone settled out of court and campus police bought a shiny new Segway. Instead of a serious reevaluation of the magical legal barrier that causes weapons to disintegrate when they cross the threshold between the real world and campus, we have the VT Alerts system, a $35,000/year pacifier -- a safety net that shattered like glass under the weight of its first crisis last November. Those of you who were here got the "shots fired outside Pritchard Hall" message about 40 minutes after it happened. Unfortunately, the two follow-up messages fell victim to "access issues" in 3n's database and weren't received. After berating 3n for their failure, Tech was so concerned for our safety that they sent 3n back out to do the exact same job -- only this time with instructions to do it better, as well as a field test to make sure it happened. Now the field test as well as the real crisis has been deemed a success, with some people concerned only with the lack of message boards in all areas of campus. But while I personally would like to see one installed in the lone English classroom that has been overlooked, I know that it is a reactionary measure designed to tell time and to make our administration look like it's doing something to preserve our safety. Allowing students who have already earned the right to concealed carry in Virginia the right to carry on campus would enable responsible adults to protect themselves when unthinkable things happen. You would notice a person carrying a gun on campus with the same frequency that you would notice one at the grocery store, mall and/or church. More importantly, during a crisis, first responders are trained to distinguish between people like civilian shooters and undercover police officers when they arrive on the scene. But you really don't have to take my word for any of this; look at Blue Ridge Community College. Look at Colorado State, look anywhere in Utah, look at Switzerland if you fear that licensed citizens exercising their right to protect themselves automatically translates into more violence. What we shouldn't do is swallow the prevailing wisdom that Wednesday's response proved that we are safe. It's time for Tech to set aside fear and ignorance and allow us to quietly protect ourselves.