Guests: Karan Grewal, Lindsay Hughes, Caryn Stark, Paul Helmke
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: We are the Hokies, we shall prevail—those words of hope ringing across a college campus today at a memorial service remembering those who died so senselessly yesterday. Inside, words of comfort and hope, but outside, a debate raging over campus security, the university‘s response time and gun control. The biggest shooting massacre in the history of the United States takes on political dimensions even before these young victims are buried.
You‘re looking right now live, as thousands of Virginia Tech students, teachers, parents, the Hokie community—they come together as a family to remember friends and classmates killed in the worst shooting in American history, yesterday‘s shock giving away to today‘s unspeakable grief as they all wait outside and remember those who died yesterday.
You know, President Bush offered his thoughts and prayers to Virginia Tech and a shocked nation earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It‘s impossible to make sense of such violence and suffering. Those whose lives were taken did nothing to deserve their fate. They were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: And tonight, we‘re learning more about the killer responsible for this massacre. Cho Seung-Hui, a 23-year-old senior from South Korea, had been in America legally for more than a decade. The English major was described as an emotionally troubled loner. And tonight, the warning signs he left behind, federal investigators saying Cho posted a deadly warning on the school Web site yesterday, saying, I‘m going to kill people at VTech today.
The killer also reportedly left a note in his dorm room which included a rambling list of grievances against other students. And according to classmates and teachers, there were always reasons to worry about this young man.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LUCINDA ROY, ENGLISH PROFESSOR: I kept saying to him, Please go to counseling, I will take you over to counseling myself, because he was so depressed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: For the very latest on this unfolding tragedy, let‘s go to the Virginia Tech campus and NBC‘s Brian Williams. Brian, describe for us what‘s going on tonight as the Hokie community comes together to remember those they lost yesterday.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, ANCHOR, “NBC NIGHTLY NEWS”: Well, Joe, if you see a stream of traffic and pedestrian traffic behind me it‘s because tonight was the candlelight vigil. And we‘re going to see more and more of this. Today‘s quasi-religious service on campus was the first gathering, really.
Tonight was just for students.
And it really is so early yet. I know that our communications and media go very, very quickly, and for a lot of people, this is day two of this story and the second night of our coverage. And many people have jumped on ahead to debate over gun control and even red states versus blue.
But here there are still students who are wondering if friends of theirs made it. They are wondering if their professor who they last saw going out into the hallway survived it. They would like some hard information.
You noted the controversy, of course, over the two-hour lag time between murders on this campus, and that will be debated. We‘ve heard from the president, the governor of Virginia, the attorney general, and certainly the president of this college. So this is all on a continuum, and while some people tell us there are stages to grief, we‘re about where all the experts said we would be.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Brian, I wanted to ask you about those stages because you‘re exactly right, it seems the media has moved forward very quickly, going into debates on issues that, quite frankly, can be debated down the road. What I‘m curious about is, yesterday, when you talked to students, it seemed as if they were in shock. The situation was surreal. I‘m wondering if that shock has now moved on to sadness, where it‘s starting to slowly sink in and just the crushing weight of this tragedy is starting to weigh down on these young people.
WILLIAMS: Well, that‘s right. When you and I spoke last night, I said that that I—you know, it sometimes can sound so patronizing when journalists, none of us trained psychologists, arrive in a place like this and say that, Well, the students who spoke so matter-of-factly about something like the methodical changing of a clip in the front of a classroom, as this young man reloaded and started a second volley of rounds into his fellow students—but I think if you listen to the experts, that is what we are seeing.
The students we interviewed here on this campus last night who were talking about this as if it was an ordinary class, as if they had just seen someone else‘s movie—today, they are doing less well. Tomorrow, they may well be doing less well than they are today.
For a lot of people, the most emotional part of the services was the cheer at the end of it today. And it was most cruel, perhaps, because it reminded everyone of when they‘ve been happiest here at Virginia Tech, when they‘re doing the school cheer. And it‘s always been used to celebrate victory and what are supposed to be the four years that represent the absolute time of their lives as college students. Instead, it was associated with something bad today as a way of kind of renewing the spirit of Virginia Tech.
SCARBOROUGH: And finally, Brian, as I was traveling from my hometown up to Washington today, I was stopped in the airport time and again by parents who have children at college, as do I, and they seem to be stricken by this. Have you seen parents coming on that campus? Have you had a chance to talk to them? Do you know if they‘re coming to take their children back home?
WILLIAMS: I have, and I did, Joe. And I join you in that club of those of us with children in college, and that has certainly colored my thoughts while covering this story.
One interesting dynamic, and it‘s—I don‘t know that anyone else noted the president‘s appearance was really at a building within sight of the dorm where most of this happened.
When I was coming back this afternoon, I saw more than one group of students with their parents and rolling luggage and their—you know, their laundry in a garbage bag slung over their shoulder. They were going home for a few days. They‘re going to take advantage of this break, this suspension in classes here, and get their head straight and try to deal with this in the environment that most students with kind of a so-called normal or typical family background find to be the most pleasing to them, the most calming. So a lot of kids will go home, if they‘re not already en route.
Someone said tonight the turnout of students at the candlelight vigil, while robust, was certainly incomplete. It‘s not the entire, of course, student body.
SCARBOROUGH: And I‘m sure, Brian, you spent the past couple days on the phone with your child, as did I. And a lot of students not only at Virginia Tech but across America tonight so shaken by this. Brian Williams, thank you so much for reporting from Virginia Tech. We greatly appreciate your time tonight.
WILLIAMS: Certainly, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, by most accounts, the gunman was a loner who pretty much kept to himself. And one of his suitemates is with us right now. Karan Grewal, thank you so much for being with us. Tell us about this suitemate. What—first of all, how many people were in your suite, and how often did you see this suitemate?
KARAN GREWAL, GUNMAN‘S SUITEMATE: Well, there‘s about six people in our suite, including him. I talk with everybody every day, but Cho was the only one I never talked to, you know, ever, really.
SCARBOROUGH: Was he—did he seem to be angry, or did he just seem to be quiet and withdrawn?
GREWAL: Well, at the beginning of the semester, when we all first moved in, you know, I went around and introduced myself to everybody. And when I introduced myself to Cho, he just did not say anything. He didn‘t seem angry or disgusted or (INAUDIBLE) didn‘t want to talk to me. He just, you know, shied away, look away, looked outside the window, or just, you know, in the other direction.
SCARBOROUGH: Did he ever bring friends back to the suite? Did you know of him doing anything socially, ever going out, being involved in any clubs, or did he just go to class and come home?
GREWAL: Well, most of the time I saw him, he was alone either in the common area in our suite working on some paper on his laptop or sitting downstairs in the lounge, watching TV.
SCARBOROUGH: Do you know what his interests were as far as—when he watched TV, what was he interested by?
GREWAL: On Friday nights, when I found him downstairs, he used to be watching wrestling. Other than that, he watched Spike TV sometimes when I saw him. But not—when I saw him working on his laptop, it used to be just, you know, some kind of Word document he was working on.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Karan, I always, whether I‘m talking to my boys or other parents are talking to their children, would usually encourage them to make friends with these type of people, to reach out to them and try to befriend them because that‘s just the right thing to do. But I understand that he really didn‘t want to be friends and he just never engaged you or anybody else in the suite, is that right?
GREWAL: That‘s absolutely correct. (INAUDIBLE) me and my roommate, though, talked about him, that, you know, how we introduced ourselves to him, but he didn‘t say a word to us. If I remember back, you know, he never even looked us in the eye. You‘d pass him by in the hallway and say, How‘re you doing, he‘d just pass you by and not say a word.
SCARBOROUGH: Never said anything. And so you really, because he was so withdrawn from the very beginning—were there no warning signs? Did you never see a change in his attitude toward you or other suitemates or Virginia Tech in general?
GREWAL: Not really. I just figured that he was just a foreign student, really shy, probably didn‘t speak a lot of English maybe. But other than that, I didn‘t think anything out of the ordinary. I saw him go to the gym, you know, on a regular basis. He looked like a person who, you know, took care of himself, you know, not a person with a death wish, really.
SCARBOROUGH: So when you heard the news, what were your thoughts?
GREWAL: Excuse me?
SCARBOROUGH: When you heard the news that it was your suitemate that was responsible for the largest mass killing—shooting in U.S. history, what were you thoughts?
GREWAL: I actually did not believe it myself for a long time until—you know, even when the police were here, they didn‘t confirm exactly who they were (INAUDIBLE) when me, Joseph and a couple of other of our suitemates were sitting there, you know, thinking because he was the only one not here. You know, he was missing, and they said on the news it was an Asian male.
In my mind, there was no way it could be Cho because he did not seem like a guy who would do something like this. He just seemed like a really shy person who just wanted to be by himself. And you know, with those kinds of people, you try to be friends, but he just didn‘t seem interested.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Karan, thank you so much for being with us. And certainly, our thoughts and prayers are with you and your other suitemates and families at this time. Thanks. We greatly appreciate it.
Now, Ryan Clark was one of the shooter‘s first victims yesterday. He was an RA in West Ambler Johnston Hall. And here now is his friend and classmate, Lindsay Hughes. Lindsay, tell me about Ryan. Tell me about when you first heard the news that he was one of the first victims in this terrible shooting.
LINDSAY HUGHES, FRIEND OF VICTIM: Well, I just heard about it this morning. I went into University Mall to get on line and started looking at articles, and his was actually the first face that I saw. And I just couldn‘t believe that he was gone. It just hit me like a rock.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Lindsay, we heard yesterday and again this morning from the campus president the possibility of this being a murder-suicide, suggesting that one of the first two people killed in this tragedy may have been responsible for it. That, of course, was not the case. Can you tell us about Ryan? Can you tell us about whether he knew the gunman or not?
HUGHES: Well, I heard about the murder-suicide possibility also, and I knew that he could never have been—he could never have done anything like that or been responsible. He was one of the most selfless people I have ever met. As far as I know, he did not know the gunman. The speculation that I‘ve heard is that he was—he heard some kind of commotion in the room in Ambler Johnston and came in to check up and see what was going on with the other victim of the dorm, and then got shot by the gunman. And that to me sounds exactly like his personality. He was always giving and caring and helping other people.
SCARBOROUGH: From all accounts, Ryan‘s just a remarkable student and a great person, and that is exactly the type of person, from all accounts, that he was, that he would run in there to try to protect her. Do you have any idea why the president of the university would still be speaking this way this morning, suggesting that it may have been a murder-suicide, when everybody knew that there was only one gunman? Do you feel like the administration mishandled this?
HUGHES: I don‘t know why they were still speculating about it this morning. I can understand that they would speculate yesterday during all of the commotion, but I don‘t understand why—why it would have happened this morning. The administration made mistakes. I definitely agree with that. But I also support what they have done and all of the community outreach they have tried to give to us just the very day after this happened. And I think that there was a lot of anger around campus yesterday, but today was more acceptance.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Lindsay Hughes, thank you so much. And thank you for coming...
HUGHES: You‘re welcome.
SCARBOROUGH: ... and talking to America about a remarkable man, telling us about your friend Ryan. He really was. Thanks for being with us.
And I just want to say personally, friends, when I woke up this morning and I heard the president of the university was still speculating that this might be a murder-suicide, I was personally very angry because I had heard what a great man Ryan was, what a great student he was, what a great RA he was. And I think it was just compounding this tragedy for this and other families.
When we come back, we‘re going inside the mind of a shooter. Looking back, there were so many warning signs. Many who knew him say they saw them early and actually had some warnings put out. We‘ll tell you about it.
And later: As the information continues to come in tonight, remembering the victims, putting faces to some of the names. And later:
The debate over gun control comes full circle. What‘s changed since Columbine? And will this tragedy be a wake-up call? Pat Buchanan will be here to tell us.
SCARBOROUGH: What drove a 23-year-old college student to carry out the worst mass shooting in U.S. history? And were there warning signs that could have prevented all of this? Today we learned startling new details about the shooter, a 23-year-old South Korea immigrant who lived in the United States for more than a decade. And new clues out tonight. They were revealed about what may have driven him to kill. Investigators found a note in his dorm room railing against, quote, “rich kids, debauchery, and deceitful charlatans” on the Virginia Tech campus. And today, some of his violent writings were revealed, with former classmates describing him as an angry loner. But what drove this man to kill 32 people?
Here now to take us inside the mind of a killer is psychotherapist Caryn Stark and former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt. Clint, you‘ve done this a lot of times before for the FBI. Tell us about this guy. Take us inside of his mind.
CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER, MSNBC ANALYST: Well, what‘s trying to be done now, Joe, is to construct a psychological profile, trying to go back in this man‘s life and find out what happened, where he went wrong. You know, some are going to suggest that, you know, at 15, 16, 17, that‘s when some people develop mental health problems. Others are going to point that he was depressed, that he was on medication. Others are going to say he was an anti-social personality. Maybe he had this wounded narcissistic issue that he was dealing with all the time. Maybe it was culture.
I think what we‘re going to find out, Joe, is it may be a little bit of everything. You know, we try too quickly to put one label on a person we can all say, Oh, aha, now I understand. You know, we‘re trying to explain the unexplainable right now. And I think—just like, you know, you and I are a combination of our parents and our environment, I think we‘re going to see a lot of different factors that played into this individual‘s background. But the mental health issue is going to be a very strong issue.
SCARBOROUGH: And Caryn, why don‘t you tell us also, when you hear—the read the words from this note, tell us again what you think‘s going inside the mind of a killer that didn‘t like blacks, didn‘t like rich kids, didn‘t like debauchery on campus. What‘s going on inside a mind like that that would cause him to explode and kill 32 of his fellow college mates?
CARYN STARK, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Well, Joe, this is clearly somebody who‘s fueled by anger. And when we take a look at him, what we do know about him is that he‘s a loner, which fits the profile of people who are mass murderers, usually loners, usually angry and usually seeing the world against them or they are against the world. And so now it‘s about rich kids and debauchery and—that, to me, really makes sense and tells me that he was very troubled.
It‘s true, we don‘t really know what happened to him early on and what could have caused this. But he is somebody who does not see the world the way we do, so people are not real to him. They‘re dehumanized. They‘re like objects no different than a table.
SCARBOROUGH: And of course, is that why—you know, we talked to his suitemate before, it was fascinating. This guy never looked into their eyes, their friend‘s eyes, never made contact with them, never talked with them. It wasn‘t like Columbine, where those kids talked about—the murderers said, you know, that they were always being picked on. It appears that nobody ever talked to this guy.
STARK: Well, but we don‘t know what happened earlier on because after all, Columbine was in high school, and now we‘re talking about college. So he may have been somebody early on in his life who was picked on. That‘s really not clear. But what we do know about him is that he couldn‘t be social. He probably didn‘t have the social skills that we would imagine someone should have at that point. And he felt most comfortable internally and isolated.
SCARBOROUGH: So Clint, what‘s next in the police investigation, as they try to dig deeper down to figure out who this murderer is and why he did it?
VAN ZANDT: Well, there‘s a number of issues they need to resolve, Joe. They have to satisfy themselves that no one else was involved, nobody else facilitated this. We know it appears he bought the guns himself. So you know, as we‘re suggesting, he‘s a loner. He probably wouldn‘t have worked with anybody else to put this together.
One of the questions that begs answers is not only as you suggested when you started, why did he commit these two murders and then go across campus, but what did he do in that almost two-and-a-half hours? How did he spend that time? And of the 100 buildings that are on this campus, Joe—and as you look behind me, you see hundreds and hundreds of cars that are going to a memorial service tonight in memory of these students.
But how did this individual look across this campus and randomly select one building, go to it, go up on the second floor, and then go by room by room by room by room and just methodically mow people down, as your other guests, suggests, that he depersonalized them completely? You know, we want to understand, Joe, because we‘d like to be able to help other people in need before they act out like this.
SCARBOROUGH: But sometimes, you just can‘t. Caryn, Clint, thank you so much. Appreciate your insights.
And still ahead: The debate over gun control is in the spotlight again. Was this, the Virginia Tech massacre—was it a wake-up call?
But up next: As information continues to pour in, a look at some of the victims in this tragedy. We‘ll put faces to the names.
SCARBOROUGH: The shock wave felt in the corners of America and even the world. Tonight, we‘re beginning to learn more about the lives cut so short so tragically at the hand of a fellow student. NBC correspondent Mike Taibbi brings us the sad stories behind the names.
MIKE TAIBBI, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There were makeshift memorials, so many reminders that somebody had fundamentally changed, students alone or in groups trying to confront all that had been taken from them in this place that seemed so safe.
Some of the victims whose families have confirmed their deaths, 18-year-old Reema Samaha, only a freshman, but already teaching dance and inspiring her students.
KRISTEN FIELDS, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT: She was really good at belly dancing.
FIELDS: And she was a really good teacher.
TAIBBI: And, said her brother, eager for her future.
OMAR SAMAHA, BROTHER OF REEMA SAMAHA: She had the whole world laid out in front of her. And she could do anything she wanted to do.
TAIBBI: The first two victims, 19-year-old animal lover Emily Hilscher of Woodville, Virginia, who police say might have been a specific target of the killer.
And 22-year-old Ryan Clark—everybody called him “Stack”—a residential assistant in the dorm, a member of the marching Virginians school band, and a native of Martinez, Georgia.
BRYAN CLARK, BROTHER OF RYAN CLARK: He was a fun-loving, outgoing individual, loved to be around people, and loved to share his passion for music and education and other things with others.
TAIBBI (on camera): It‘s a vast campus, 2,600 acres, 26,000 students. But every student we spoke to said he or she is feeling the loss personally.
(voice-over): For the families of several victims, including 20-year-old Ross Alameddine of Saugus, Massachusetts, it simply took too long to confirm that the worst had happened, until 11:00 at night, said his mother, Lynette (ph), more than 13 hours after the shootings.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It‘s horrifying. It‘s really horrifying. And I‘m just trying to keep it together.
TAIBBI: And it wasn‘t just the young who came under fire. In India, the family of engineering professor G.V. Loganathan, 51, were stunned.
PALANIVEL LOGANATHAN, BROTHER OF G.V. LOGANATHAN: They‘re all feeling terrible. We don‘t know how to manage things.
TAIBBI: And, in Romania, a terrible sadness over the death of 76-year-old professor Liviu Librescu. Relatives say students have e-mailed them, saying the elderly Holocaust survivor blocked the classroom door against the gunfire with his own body, saving several lives, before losing his own.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): He had huge affection for his students. And he sacrificed his life for them.
TAIBBI: In the coming days and weeks, the stories of all the victims will be known, 32 narratives of accomplishment and limitless hopes gone in two bursts of gunfire from a single killer on a spring day now etched in memory and infamy.
(on camera): One young student told me today that, even before this terrible incident, this was an extremely close-knit university community. But, she said, having been through this together, we will be closer than we have ever been before. We need each other now—Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Thank you so much, Mike, for that important report.
And still ahead: the massacre in Virginia thrusting gun control back to the front of the debate and into the national conversation.
And later: what Virginia Tech told its students and when. Could a quicker response have saved lives, as some are charging, or did they do the right thing?
That‘s when we return.
SCARBOROUGH: You knew it was going to happen. The massacre at Virginia Tech has pushed the national gun control debate front and center.
Tonight, many people are asking why Cho was able to buy these two weapons legally in Virginia.
NBC News‘s Don Teague is in Blacksburg tonight with that part of the story.
Don, what can you tell us about these guns?
DON TEAGUE, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Joe, first of all, I want to say that, here at Virginia Tech, today really wasn‘t a day about politics. It was a day about healing, as you know.
The service early this afternoon, you can still see cars behind me leaving this massive candlelight vigil this evening—that happened later this evening.
But, really, the point about gun control is that talk radio around the country took this as a topic today. If you listened to a talk radio station, chances are you heard at least a few calls on this topic.
It was on the minds of callers, and, here at the school, it was on the minds of students as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It‘s a gun. It‘s something they can use to, like, take another person‘s life. And, so, that‘s not something you would just easily give to a person just for making profit out of it, and, you know, things like this would happen.
AFSANA CHOWDHRUY, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT: Obviously, the student who was involved in yesterday‘s killings, he—he was able to access his weapons very easily.
So, I think Virginia should be more strict about their gun laws. And, if he wasn‘t able to access them so easily, then yesterday might not have happened at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TEAGUE: So, the point being that, here in Virginia, they have lenient gun laws in comparison to other places around the country.
We know that Cho bought the two guns—that he bought at separate stores. And he went through the proper background checks. And he legally acquired those guns.
In this state, though, Joe, there‘s no mandatory waiting period. Some states, California, for example, you have to wait 10 days if you walk in to buy a handgun after you pass the checks before you can receive that gun.
People who are against adding gun control measures say, look, that wouldn‘t have made any difference anyway. He bought these guns legally. And he waited much more than 10 days. It was beyond 30 days from the purchase of these two guns.
But, of course, as you mentioned, it has fueled the debate here and around much of the country about gun control laws—Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Don Teague, thank you so much for the report.
And it leads to the question whether stricter gun laws could have prevented the massacre at Virginia Tech. And how is this tragedy going to change the national gun control debate moving forward?
Here now, Paul Helmke. He is the president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. And also MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan. He made gun rights a cornerstone of his presidential campaigns.
And, Pat, let‘s start with you.
How do you explain to people the right to keep and bear arms, when you have somebody like this going out, shooting up a campus, and ending 32 young, promising lives?
PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Joe, this fellow went out, and he bought this gun legally. And then he had to wait 30 days to buy a second gun.
And he did that legally. But then he began breaking the laws consistently. He filed off the serial numbers on the weapons. He concealed the weapons. He had no right to carry a concealed weapon. He brought it onto a campus, where he had no right to have it.
He discharged a weapon, which was a crime in itself. He murdered 30 people—or 32 people. He risked his own execution. And then he took his own life.
You have got the moral equivalent of a suicide bomber. And I think it is, it seems to me, unreasonable to think that the state legislature of Virginia is going to pass another gun law which is going to stop this sort of thing.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, let me ask Paul.
Paul, what gun law would you like the state of Virginia to pass or the United States Congress to pass that would have stopped all of these murders, because he abided by all the laws of the state of Virginia?
PAUL HELMKE, PRESIDENT, BRADY CAMPAIGN TO PREVENT GUN VIOLENCE: When I hear the heart-wrenching stories that you‘re starting to tell tonight, Joe, and then when I hear the descriptions of the shooter, it seems to—that it was obvious to his suite mates and those that knew him that this was somebody that was unstable.
The thing that comes across most clearly is that our current laws are not working. If we have all the laws on the books that Pat talked about, and this person, who his room—his suite mates and his others identified as someone, obviously, that they wouldn‘t have allowed to get a gun, something differently needs to be done.
HELMKE: Over the years, we have proposed tons of...
SCARBOROUGH: Paul, give me one.
BUCHANAN: Joe, let me get into this.
HELMKE: Let me just—I was going to say, it‘s—we proposed tons of laws over the last 20, 25 years. The only one that‘s really been adopted is the Brady Bill that requires background checks for sales by a federally licenses dealer.
Now is when I‘m calling on our elected officials and the presidential candidates to start addressing the issue, that our current gun laws don‘t work. And I don‘t mind what options Pat or others are going to throw out. Let‘s put them on the table and figure out how we can try to prevent something like this from occurring in the future.
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second.
Paul, we don‘t have a lot of time, but I need to nail you down here. Give me one example of a gun law that could be passed that could have saved these lives today. Just one.
HELMKE: It‘s—if we—for example, some countries, before you go in to buy a gun, you have got some either references, psychological testing, something to show that—that you‘re the sort of person.
BUCHANAN: All right.
HELMKE: That is not something we have called in this country. But, if we look at what other countries have done, and try to figure out what we could do here, that‘s the sort of thing...
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second, Pat. Hold on, baby.
Pat, I have a lot of people saying to me, because I have long been a Second Amendment rights supporter, but I have a lot of people that come up after these type of tragedies, and say, Joe, why can guys walk in and get these guns easier than they can get a license to drive a car around?
It seems that it‘s an issue of life and death. Why don‘t we make them come in with references? And why don‘t we do all these different things? What do you tell those people?
BUCHANAN: Well, I mean, let me go right to the gentleman‘s point—I agree with him—which is, look, if you‘re being treated for mental depression, or you have had a mental disorder, it‘s right down there on the list of things you have got to answer to when you buy that gun.
This fellow—the problem was, this fellow not brought to the attention of anyone. You had somebody who was deeply depressed, getting more and more angry and dangerous, and nobody was reporting him to anyone.
And the problem was—is not the gun itself. It‘s the individual who was going to get the gun. He should not have been allowed to buy a gun, if the gun owner knew he had this kind of background in depression.
Why was that not brought forward? There ought to be gun laws against people who have mental disorders buying handguns, Joe. I agree with that. That is the law in the state of Virginia.
SCARBOROUGH: All right.
HELMKE: We‘re expecting this fellow to self-police it. We need stronger laws. We need to find some way to stop this sort of thing from occurring again.
SCARBOROUGH: And I think Paul and Pat and I all agree that this is an issue that needs to be debated over the next year-and-a-half.
Paul, Pat, thank you so much for being with us tonight.
And, still ahead: how the town of Blacksburg and the campus of Virginia Tech is coping with the massacre. You know, thousands are still gathering tonight to remember those they lost yesterday.
But, first, a debate over how Virginia Tech handled the shootings, and whether or not a quicker approach would have saved lives.
SCARBOROUGH: For more on the massacre at Virginia Tech, log on to MSNBC.com, where you will find an on-the-scene blog from NBC News reporters and producers on campus and in Blacksburg, taking the pulse of the campus and the community that was hit so hard.
SCARBOROUGH: Tonight, some parents are calling for the president and the police chief at Virginia Tech to be fired for waiting so long to notify students about yesterday‘s shootings.
Well, NBC‘s Lisa Myers takes a look at the debate over who knew what and when they shared it with the students.
LISA MYERS, NBC CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Joe, security experts across the nation are raising serious questions tonight about how Virginia Tech officials handled the first shooting incident, and whether a different response might have saved lives.
(voice-over): Why, after being notified of a shooting in this dormitory at 7:15 a.m., did Virginia Tech authorities wait more than two hours, until 9:26, to alert students by e-mail there had been a shooting and to be cautious?
ALISON KISS, PROGRAM DIRECTOR, SECURITY ON CAMPUS, INC.: The message should have gone out at least five minutes after knowing what had happened. And it should have said that there was a potential shooter on the loose; classes were canceled.
MYERS: At 9:45 came 911 calls about another shooting, this one at Norris Hall, an academic building that is a 10-minute walk across campus from the site of the first shootings.
That triggered a second e-mail to students and staff at 9:50: “Please stay put. A gunman is loose on campus.” By then, it was too late.
Virginia Tech‘s president told Matt Lauer, the two-hour delay was caused by the need to gather facts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE TODAY SHOW”)
CHARLES STEGER, PRESIDENT, VIRGINIA TECH: We were, at that point in time, still getting information from witnesses. In fact, people were still being questioned at about 9:15.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MYERS (on camera): The university also waited more than two hours, until 9:23 a.m., to alert the state police about the first shooting. And, according to state police officials, even then, university police did not ask for help.
MIKE SHEEHAN, FORMER NYPD OFFICIAL: Quite frankly, I think that the police made a very grave mistake.
MYERS: Mike Sheehan, a former top New York police official and an NBC News analyst, calls both two-hour delays inexplicable.
SHEEHAN: They had a gunman at large who had killed two people. He was armed and dangerous. And they should have ramped up the security significantly more than they did.
MYERS: Others question why the campus wasn‘t closed off and buildings immediately secured.
PETER LAPORTE, SECURITY EXPERT: Locking down, in retrospect, in hindsight, unfortunately, would be the right thing to do.
MYERS: But could any of this have stopped a heavily armed gunman willing to die?
SHEEHAN: There would have been a much better chance of them preventing the second attack by having an aggressive, robust law enforcement presence throughout the campus.
MYERS: Virginia Governor Kaine said today there will be an independent investigation of the entire incident.
(on camera): Joe, one of the new questions investigators will no doubt examine is whether university officials ignored the many warning signs that the shooter apparently gave off in the months before he went on his deadly rampage—Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, as always, Lisa Myers, thank you so much.
Let‘s bring in Bill Stanton. He‘s NBC‘s safety and security analyst.
Bill, you don‘t think school officials made a mistake by locking down the campus immediately. Why?
BILL STANTON, NBC SAFETY AND SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I‘m not going to say that.
What I will say is, they were in the moment. It‘s easy for myself and other security experts to come on TV and talk about this after the fact. It was a shooting. Unless there was a note saying that this gentleman was going to go on a Columbine-type rage, they didn‘t really know what they were dealing with.
SCARBOROUGH: But, Bill, you have got a closed community. You have got a shooter on the loose. Why in the world would you not warn students that there was a murderer somewhere loose on this campus?
Playing devil‘s advocate, it might cause panic. Where—if you‘re going to evacuate them, where do you evacuate 26,000 persons to? And everybody‘s talking about lockdown. Well, we know what lockdown means in a prison, but what does lockdown mean in a college? People are coming, going to class. This person is on the loose. They don‘t know that—what the intent is of this person.
STANTON: What were they to do?
And, Bill, another point that Lisa Myers brought out, they didn‘t contact the state police for two hours, also. If they had contacted them earlier, they could have gotten a police presence on campus. And you know that student would not have walked through police officers on the quad, and then gone in and shot these other people.
I mean, you do agree that a more robust police presence could have prevented the second murders, right?
STANTON: Well, it could have, absolutely. Listen, they‘re going to review this. And, like anything, they could make standards and practice and protocol much better.
But, if you have someone this intent who had two guns and had premeditation—and that is what it was looking like—that was fixated on doing this, at the cost of his life, it‘s going to be very hard to stop this person, no matter what you do.
SCARBOROUGH: So, should parents be scared that their children can‘t be protected at college campuses against this type of outbreak?
Parents shouldn‘t be scared. They shouldn‘t be paranoid. They should be prepared. That‘s not to say, if you see a loner or someone who doesn‘t talk to students, you call out the National Guard. There‘s a reason why this is getting so much attention, because this has never happened before.
These occurrences—unfortunately, one time is too many—they do not happen all the time.
SCARBOROUGH: So, what next for college campuses? Do they put—I mean, if you—if you were the head of security for Virginia Tech tonight, would you put metal detectors outside of dorm rooms? Would you put metal detectors going into major buildings? What would you do?
What you do is, you have a threat assessment team. You get the communication between law enforcement. You up their game. If they are, like, threats, or if there was indications, you have a qualified or a qualified team making these assessments on a case-by-case basis.
As we have seen with the interviews with the suite mates and the schoolteacher, they were making mental notes. And they would brush them off. One person did pull the child to the side. These things need to be followed up in a more stringent way.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Bill Stanton, thank you so much. Really appreciate your insights.
We will be right back.
SCARBOROUGH: Tonight in Blacksburg, students and faculty are remembering those who died tragically yesterday.
And NBC‘s Bob Faw shows us how the tight-knit Blacksburg community is morning and healing.
BOB FAW, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today, we mourn, said this tight-knit community.
On Main Street in Blacksburg, Hokie Hair, a play on the school‘s nickname, lost two of its customers in yesterday‘s rampage. Today, the staff here made Hokie-colored ribbons as therapy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There‘s no way you really can deal with this.
FAW: Demand for flowers was so great, a local florist quickly ran out of school colors. At the campus emporium, orange and maroon garb was snapped up in reverence, said Blacksburg resident Brenda Sternfeld (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it stays with you and becomes a part of who you are.
FAW: There was even a makeshift memorial, white candles for all the dead, save the gunman, red for the injured, erected by a local resident, Jose Torres (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How could somebody do this? And I think it‘s just we‘re—we are all looking for answers.
FAW: So, throughout the day here, through the tears and the hugs, they tried to find comfort.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It‘s part of the grieving process. It‘s just what you have to do.
FAW (on camera): But, as much as Main Street mourns, here, there is also a measure of defiance.
(voice-over): Like others, florist Sherry Wyatt (ph) says the killings will not change who she is.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And it doesn‘t mean that Blacksburg has changed.
I still feel, you know, just as safe.
FAW: And, on the night of the carnage, this student haunt decided to stay open, with the proceeds to be donated to the victims.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were here together for each other. That‘s how you get past it.
FAW: Together, they say, in shock and pain.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel like everyone on this campus is a casualty.
FAW: So, today, an honor guard of student cadets paid silent tribute, as a hastily scrawled message outside read, “May God help us all.”
Bob Faw, NBC News, Blacksburg, Virginia.
SCARBOROUGH: Thank you, Bob.
And we leave you with images of Blacksburg and Virginia Tech today, images that will greatly move you.
And stay tuned for continuing coverage of the Virginia Tech massacre.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... in those classrooms, they never had a chance to go home. They never had a chance to (INAUDIBLE) around with their dad, their loved ones.
STEGER: It is overwhelming, almost paralyzing. Yet, our hearts and our minds call to us to come together to share our individual attempts to comprehend the incomprehensible, to make sense of the senseless, and to find ways for our community to heal.
ZENOBIA HIKES, VICE PRESIDENT OF STUDENT AFFAIRS, VIRGINIA TECH: We will eventually recover, but we will never, ever forget.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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