Although I did not go to Virginia Tech, as an alumnus of a fellow ACC school I feel that words are not sufficient for what the families of the slain are going through - it was just far too soon for their lives to be cut short. Throughout this ordeal, a range of emotions have gone through me - from hatred at their killer to sadness for the families of the victims. I think as a result of this whole ordeal we must do some soul searching as an entire nation to help prevent something like this from ever happening again. When I was in high school (which wasn't that long ago) it was considered unheard of for someone to go on a shooting rampage at school. Now, unless the body count is high such as what happened at Virginia Tech, we numb ourselves to the news - "Oh, only two people were killed - that's not very many". We must not numb ourselves any longer. We should instead look deeply into why, in this country, so many encounters end violently. I do think that letting a person previously committed to an insane asylum purchase two guns lacks any common sense at all, but I don't see the root of the problem as a gun control issue. This country, more so than any other country I have visited, is a country where people simply do not like each other. It is not a race, religion, or class thing - people simply do not like each other.
Sometimes I think a system taking some elements from Singapore would do us good. The two ideas I most agree with are severe punishments for small crimes and part of the education program teaching people how to respect each other. The argument for punishing small crimes harshly is most seasoned criminals do not start out with large acts of crime - they start out with small crimes and when they find out that they can get away with them, they progress to larger ones. If you hit the criminal so hard for a small crime that they dare not to try that again, then you reduce the number of criminals trying large crimes. Note that I think Singapore takes things a bit too far by killing all drug dealers and that in the case of Virginia Tech this probably would not have helped.
As for learning to respect each other - I think this is sorely lacking in our education programs. One day, when I was in high school, one of our teachers came up with a program where everyone in the class had to 1) stand up when speaking and 2) address everyone else in the class by Mr and Miss + surname. We all found this very entertaining and I noticed for that one day everyone in the class was a little nicer towards each other. Perhaps if each of us has more respect towards others, fewer people would make the decision to harm.
OK, so this post has no real structure and is really just a brain dump out of my head. I am not a politician - just a software engineer but I would be curious to hear others' thoughts.