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US gun crackdown unlikely despite latest mass -

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US gun crackdown unlikely despite latest massacre

Broadcast: 17/04/2007

Reporter: Tracey Bowden

The scale of today's massacre at Virginia Tech University in the US, which left at least 33 people
dead, has shocked the nation all the way to the White House. But in the land where the right to
bear arms is enshrined in the constitution, a crackdown on guns remains unlikely.


KERRY O'BRIEN: It's an image that's become depressingly familiar, armed police escorting terrified
students from the scene of the latest mass shooting in the United States.

The scale of today's massacre at Virginia Tech, which left at least 33 dead, has reverberated
through the nation all the way to the White House.

In this country after the 1996 Port Arthur massacre in which 35 people were killed, tough new gun
laws were introduced which virtually banned all semi-automatic firearms.

But in the land where the right to bear arms is enshrined in the constitution, and where tens of
thousands are killed by guns each year, any similar crackdown remains unlikely.

This report from the ABC's North America Correspondent Tracy Bowden.

STUDENT: All of a sudden, I just hear these ... like these fires going off and like all these
gunshots, and like everyone just screaming "run!", and everyone ran across the field.


US REPORTER: Tonight, the massacre at Virginia Tech, out of nowhere the deadliest shooting rampage
in American history.

US REPORTER 2: Tonight, campus tragedy, massacre at Virginia Tech.

(End montage)

TRACY BOWDEN: Once again, Americans are confronting the terrible images that have become all too
familiar - mass murder at one of the nation's education facilities.

GEORGE W. BUSH, US PRESIDENT: Schools should be places of safety and sanctuary and learning. When
that sanctuary is violated, the impact is felt in every American classroom and every American

TRACY BOWDEN: This time the sanctuary was Virginia Tech, a university founded in 1872, and home to
26,000 students.

STUDENT 2: And I've heard that a classroom of students was shot and basically, a gunman went into
the classroom, unloaded.

STUDENT 3: Every second it was like new stuff and the fatalities just went from like nine to 20 to
31. It's just insane.

TRACY BOWDEN: This wobbly mobile phone video footage taken by a student captures the drama.

STUDENT 4: My RA (resident advisor), who I'm good friends with, was across the hall. She was in the
room across the hall in Norris from where the majority of the shootings took place and we haven't
been able to get a hold of her, find out anything out about her all morning.

TRACY BOWDEN: At least 33 people are dead and 15 wounded after two separate incidents. It's still
not clear if the same gunman was responsible for both.

Two people were found dead inside a university dormitory at 7:15 in the morning. Then, two hours
later, 31 deaths in Norris Hall, the engineering building. The gunman took his own life.

CHARLES STEGER, VIRGINIA TECH PRESIDENT: Norris Hall is a tragic and sorrowful crime scene, and we
are in the process of identifying victims and in the process of notifying next of kin. This may
take some time.

WENDELL FLINCHUM, VIRGINIA TECH POLICE CHIEF: We have one person that's deceased in Norris Hall
that was a shooter. We do not know if the two incidents are connected. That's part of the
investigation that we're looking into and we're trying to determine whether they are or are not

TRACY BOWDEN: After the second series of shootings, the university was locked down with anxious
students trying to contact parents and friends.

STUDENT 5: It's really hard because this is impacting our whole country, this is my school. So, I
don't even know, I think I'm still in shock, like I don't want to believe that it's true.

TRACY BOWDEN: Virginia Tech authorities are now being quizzed about why there wasn't a lockdown
after the first shootings.

WENDELL FLINCHUM: The information we had on the first incident led us to make the decision that it
was an isolated event to that building, and the decision was made not to cancel classes at that

CHARLES STEGER: We had some reason to think the shooter had left the campus, in fact, may have been
leaving the state and this other event occurred two hours later.

TRACY BOWDEN: The crime is now being described as the worst shooting of its kind in US history. It
has brought back memories of another school massacre at Columbine High, eight years ago this week.
Twelve students and a teacher were shot dead before two student gunmen killed themselves. Last
October at an Amish school in Pennsylvania, a gunman took hostages before shooting dead six females
students and then himself. Despite this latest massacre, there appears to be little likelihood of
any further clampdown on America's gun culture. Police have indicated two handguns were found at
the scene. In Virginia no permit is needed to buy a gun and under state law people are allowed to
carry concealed weapons.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER US PRESIDENT: You don't need an Uzi to go deer hunting. You don't need an
AK-47 to go skeet shooting.

TRACY BOWDEN: More than 10 years ago, after an earlier schoolyard shooting, President Bill Clinton
convinced Congress to ban the import of foreign assault weapons. Even that modest measure has been
allowed to lapse.

JOSH HORWITZ, COALITION TO STOP GUN VIOLENCE: Since the Columbine shooting the assault weapons ban
has been allowed to expire. Gun manufacturers are free from lawsuits, we can't sue them any more
for many types of lawsuits. And the ATF, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is really
working with one hand tied behind their back.

TRACY BOWDEN: As police in Virginia continue their investigations all those connected with the
tragedy are waiting to find out who the gunman was and what motivated this terrible act.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Widespread the tragedy may be, and it may be felt around the country, but it doesn't
ever seem to penetrate to the ballot box. Tracy Bowden with that report.