What is it that makes men, and in some cases boys get up in the morning, slaughter innocent civilians in a place of learning and then end their own lives?
The question pursued us on our way to Virginia Tech. Outside Washington the headquarters of the NRA - the National Rifle Association - glints at passing cars.
The lights were on in many of the offices. Was this usual? Or were they busy working on damage control for the inevitable criticism?
Another 100 miles further down the Interstate you enter the Bible Belt. Periodically giant illuminated crucifixes jostle for attention with huge billboards advertising injury lawyers and fast-food outlets. Just before the city of Roanake there is a Wal-Mart. "Guns for sale all year round", it boasts, "except on Xmas Day".
Matt Frei of the BBC has a thoughtful commentary on Virginia Tech, Americans and Europeans and guns, and related matters. Well worth the read. The rest of it is here. Thank you, BBC.
The piece includes a heartbreaking detail I hadn't yet read or heard: ...Professor Liviu Librescu, the 76-year-old Holocaust survivor who died wedging himself against the door to stop the gunman from killing his students...
Always good to read news and commentary about the U.S. in non-U.S. media sources, folks.