News reports say that at least 29 people have been killed in a mass shooting at Virginia Tech, which - like George Mason - is a Virginia state university. Glenn Reynolds ("Instapundit") has a roundup with numerous links. As Glenn points out, Virginia Tech is, legally, a "gun free" zone. Defenders of gun rights will likely argue that the tragedy could have been prevented or at least reduced in scale if Tech students and faculty had been allowed to have their guns on campus and therefore been able to use them to stop the shooter. On the other hand, gun control advocates will probably claim that the shooter would hever have gotten his hands on a weapon in the first place if Virginia had tougher restrictions on gun ownership. No doubt, experts will weigh in on these issues in the coming days, including perhaps the VC's own gun experts David Kopel, Eugene Volokh, and Randy Barnett.
At this time, however, I just want to express our condolences to the students and faculty at Virginia Tech, who will have to live with the impact of these events for a long time to come. I also urge people not to try to derive any broader lessons from these events until we know a lot more about exactly what happened and why than we do now.
UPDATE: It is fairly obvious that most commenters have not heeded my admonition to avoid drawing policy conlusions until we know more about what happened. I'm not going to "punish" anyone by deleting their comments. But I will note that it's rarely a good idea to derive sweeping policy implications from very limited facts. For example, we don't yet know why the shooter did what he did, or how he acquired his gun. Furthermore, even if we did know more, it would be unwise to base gun control policy on a single case, even a highly publicized and tragic one. The case may be (and given the record death toll, probably is) highly unrepresentative. It is certainly not representative of general conditions on college campuses, which usually have quite low crime rates relative to other areas. As this Department of Education Report notes, in most years the total number of murders on all college campuses combined is about 10 to 20. The Virginia Tech incident represents more murders in a single day than typically happen on all college campuses combined over an entire year.