Thirty-two innocent people are dead after a gunman went on a shooting rampage at Virginia Tech University in the US. The tragedy will no doubt prompt a lot of debate about America's absurd gun laws, but there's no sign even an incident of this magnitude will lead to those being changed. Initial questions are being asked of university officials and police, who failed to prevent the deaths of two students turning into America's worst massacre of modern times.
Unless something comes out that we don't yet know, it seems the gunman was able to hide out somewhere on campus for more than two hours, between the initial double murder in a hall of residence, and his terrible attack in a teaching block half a mile away. No warnings were given to students, who were allowed to continue to classes as normal. Had the authorities closed down the campus immediately, surely those needless 30 deaths would have been avoided. It's wrong to say the senior university and police officials are to blame - the killer's the only real bad guy here. But a change in the way major universities deal with security alerts is urgently needed. A few hours of chaos and disruption is infinitely better than a few minutes of violence and murder.