A Southern Baptist seminary president said lives could have been saved last week at Virginia Tech if six or eight students had risked their lives to rush and subdue gunman Seung-Hui Cho.
“Somebody just came a moment ago and said let’s pray for those at the Virginia Tech University, where the tragedy has occurred,” Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary said at the start of Wednesday’s chapel. “And that’s exactly what we’re going to do, certainly. But I want to say two things to you this morning that are very critical, and I want to you listen for one second to me, if you will, before we pray.”
“Now if you’re a male student at Southwestern Seminary, will you just lift your hand for a moment so I can see you? Thank you for that commitment,” Patterson said, drawing audible laughter from the crowd.
“God forbid that anything ever happen like this here,” Patterson said, “but each of you who just raised your hand said” ‘Never be more than two or three shots before I’m on him. [It] doesn’t matter how many of us he takes out.'”
“See, all you had to do was have six or eight rush him right at that time, and 32 people wouldn’t have died,” Patterson said.
“Now folks, let’s make up our minds,” Patterson said. “I know we live in America where nobody gets involved in anybody else’s situation. That shall not be the rule here. Does everybody understand? You say, well I may be shot. Well, yeah, you may. Are you saved? (laughter) You’re going to heaven. You know, it’s better than earth, and so it’s OK. You say, ‘Well that’s easy for you to say, you’ve already got one foot there and another on a banana peel (laughter). I know it, but it’s the way I was reared. And it doesn’t matter how long you live, if you’re going to live eternity in heaven. And you don’t let things like that happen, guys. We just don’t do it.
“Now one more time, how many or you are male students at Southwestern Seminary? Get your hands up. Alright, God bless you, and I am counting on you. Do you understand me? I’m counting on you, and I know you will.”
An article on a conservative Web site voiced shared a similar view.
“It is clear that, had there been one student or teacher with a concealed carry license and packing a Sig-Sauer .40 S&W pistol, the shootings might have been stopped much sooner and many more people left alive,” Brooks Mick wrote in the Conservative Voice.
“If five or ten unarmed students had rushed the shooter and mobbed him and beat him to a pulp, some would undoubtedly have been wounded or killed, but the rest of the students would have been saved,” Micks wrote. “Charge! Throw textbooks, staplers, anything handy. Pick up pens, pencils. Jump the shooter, tackle him, pile on, crush him to the floor with massed bodies, stab him in the eyes or neck with pencils or pens. (Click the ballpoints out first–makes a better stabbing instrument that way.)”
Patterson didn’t mention guns in Wednesday’s chapel comments, but he has said in the past that America’s No. 1 problem is a “war against boys,” including establishing laws to prevent men from hunting and owning guns, producing a generation of fathers disconnected from their sons.
“Today there is a war against boys,” Patterson said in 2003 at Sportsman’s Safari sponsored by First Baptist Church of Lavaca, Ark. “You’ve got to make little girls out of your little boys.”
Patterson said every boy should have three things: a dog, a dad and a gun. Teaching a child to shoot, he said, will help him to learn responsibility and respect for the safety of others.
“Get him a gun,” Patterson said. “Not a play gun, but a real gun. Play guns are the most dangerous guns in the world.”
On Wednesday, Patterson also said things might have been different at Virginia Tech if someone had reached out to Cho before he carried out his attack.
“[The] total testimony of everybody was that this young man who did this deed was troubled and very lonely,” he said. “I want you to think for a moment about Lee Harvey Oswald, riding a bus one day down to the school book depository in Dallas, Texas, to assassinate the president of the United States. What if he had sat down next to somebody on that bus who would have started a conversation with him, and said, ‘Mr. Oswald, do you know that God loves you and has a wonderful plan for you?’ How might it have been different?”
“Here’s a young man who was troubled, everybody knew, and he was a loner,” Patterson said. “I said to my evangelism class this last week, ‘Watch for everybody who seems to be alone, and always start a conversation with them–always, always, always.'”
Maybe it’s not anything really bad,” Patterson said. “Maybe it’s just a bad day. Maybe they got fired from their job that day. Or maybe they lost their paycheck or something, but that’s a good person to have a time of prayer with, anyway, and encourage their hearts. And you just never know. There are literally tens of thousands of people just exactly like that young man out there that are on the verge of making a terrible mistake in life. Maybe it won’t be to blow away 32 people, but it will be some other tragic mistake that he can make in his life. And see, that’s why we’re here. That’s why God leads us here, is for that opportunity of witness.”
According to media reports last week, one of Cho’s victims, 20-year-old Ross Alameddine, often sat next to Cho last fall in an English class and tried to engage him in friendly conversation, but Cho would not respond.
There is no evidence that Cho targeted Alameddine, but their shared class, reported Friday by the New York Times, was the first time one of the 32 victims was linked to the gunman.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.
Managing editor at EthicsDaily.com from 2003-2009, Allen wrote more than 1,500 news stories during his tenure.