On April 16, 2007, Virginia Tech student Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 fellow members of the Virginia Tech community and wounded 17 others before taking his own life. Cho obtained the weapons he used in this killing spree despite the fact that he had a long history of mental illness, and he was able to kill so many people so quickly because he was able to purchase multiple high-capacity magazines.
Nothing can bring back the many innocent lives that were lost in this tragedy, and they will always be the greatest cost of this terrible day. Unfortunately, lawmakers have generally not responded to this event — or to similar killing sprees such as the 2011 Tucson shooting that killed six people and nearly killed Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) — by tightening down laws intended to prevent the mentally ill from obtaining firearms or by banning the kind of high-capacity magazines that helped make both killing sprees so deadly. The goal of preserving human life should be all that is necessary to inspire lawmakers to enact common sense reforms.
Perhaps, however, this lawmakers will be motivated by a different concern — the need to save money in a time of tight state budgets. As a new Center for American Progress report explains, Seung-Hui Cho’s fifteen minute killing spree imposed steep costs on the taxpayers: