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On April 16, 2007, my child, Leslie Sherman, was killed by Seung-Hui Cho during the Virginia Tech massacre. Today is the fifth anniversary of her death. Always in my memories, every day I wish that this tragedy was a nightmare and I could wake up to hold my daughter even if it is just one more time.  That opportunity might have been possible if someone been able to defend and protect my daughter in her classroom before Cho took 30 precious lives . . .

There is an unfortunate drive for more gun control and the continuation of preventing guns on campus by parents whose children lived or survived during that fatal day. Several family members of those victims have actively voiced their support for increased gun control measures. As result, it has been assumed that they speak for all families of the Virginia Tech victims. I am writing this to make it clear that this is not the case.  They do not represent me and my views.

Speaking for myself, I would give anything if someone on campus; a professor, one of the trained military or guardsman taking classes or another student could have saved my daughter by shooting Cho before he killed our loved ones. Because professors, staff and students are precluded from protecting themselves on campus, Cho, a student at Virginia Tech himself, was able to simply walk on campus and go on a killing rampage with no worry that anyone would stop him.

I ask a simple question: Would the other parents of victims be forever thankful if a professor or student was allowed to carry a firearm and could have stopped Seung-Hui Cho before their loved one was injured or killed? I would be. I also suspect that the tragedy may not have occurred at all if Cho knew that either faculty members or students were permitted to carry their own weapons on campus. Cho took his own life before campus police were able to reach him and put a stop to his killing spree.

A sad testament to this anniversary date is the number of similar killings in schools and public places that have taken place afterwards as if nothing has changed to help prevent such needless and heartbreaking events. That is why I fully support the VCDL in their outstanding efforts to help prevent this type of tragedy and loss from occurring in the future.

Holly Adams

[republished with the permission of the Virginia Citizens Defense League]

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  1. I would like to thank her for speaking out on this when I am sure it would be easier to not get involved in the politics of this issue.

  2. I feel for Holly. I have kids and I can’t even imagine what it must be like.
    I have felt that you can’t control ever entrance to a campus. Particularly large universities, they just aren’t setup that way.
    I think having trained teachers, and security is a great thing. At San Jose State here in CA they actually have their own Police Department with real cops. While not perfect it is valuable. Having specific armed staff members would probably have stopped not on;y the Virginia Tech shooting but also the tragedy that took place in Oakland not to long ago.

    • That might have helped, but I think one of the themes here is not “more cops” but individuals choosing to take responsibility for their own safety. I also have huge issues with any police force that reports to administrators and not an elected official or council.

    • Virginia Tech has it’s own trained and certified Police Force. It also has strict no-guns on campus rules. When I lived on campus I had to take my guns directly to the police station to be checked in by an officer and stored there whenever I went on campus. If I wanted to take them off campus I had to have an officer check them out. They were polite about it and it usually took less than 5-10 min, but it was a hassle nonetheless.

      • I just cannot figure out why the criminals don’t bother to check their guns at the police station on campus … oh wait they don’t follow the rules.

  3. A horrible tragedy and something every parent must now think about with kids ( or more appropriately, adult offspring) at school. Thank you for sharing and speaking up for your beliefs. It’s unfortunate that so often the most reasoned voices are drowned out by uninformed passion.

  4. As an alumnus of Virginia Tech who’s department is housed in Norris Hall, who had many classes there, who’s wife had classes there when we were dating, and someone who is pro 2A and pro self defense I want to thank Holly Adams for having the courage to speak out on this matter and to not let others assume to speak for her.

  5. I got into it once with a guy who was against campus carry, he was convinced that it’s better to have one person shooting (The badguy) than to have two or more people shooting at eachother (the badguy and CCW holders). In his mind, more bullets flying=bad… Even if half those bullets could potentially stop the killing in its tracks in the first few seconds or minutes. He also had a dim view of non-cops ability to handle a firearm in stressful situations.

    Personally, I can’t imagine how it’s safer for students and faculty to allow someone to wander through a school executing people at will rather than allow law abiding citizens to defend themselves.

    • It’s an ingrained victim mentality, part of the ever increasing culture of cowardice and irresponsibility that’s consumed modern society.

    • Yea i met several guys like that once i started going to something besides a local community college. When the officers i knew pointed out that i could actually shoot better than some of the guys on the tac team came up shut them up real dam quick, they looked kinda mad too. hehe

  6. Why would a college administrator care about student safety — the administrators aren’t the ones getting shot. If a few students get carried out in body bags, there are plenty of other people with checkbooks in one hand and a college loan certificate in the other who are ready, willing and able to take their places.

    Campus gun bans have nothing to do with student safety and everything to do with administration power and control. School administrators lead the world in the arrogance of power, edging out even the tenured pedagogues.

    • I think this is a valid issue to discuss, and emotions are already running high. I am not sure it is fair to assume that the decisions were driven by lack of concern for human life. It would be like saying we invaded Iraq because no one cares if soldiers live or die. Any time the discussion sinks to name-calling, it cheapens the arguments.

      By 2007, there were only about 600 accidental gun deaths in the United States. Many of these could have been prevented, but the sad fact is that they weren’t. School Administrators are simply trying to minimize preventable deaths. Failing that, they are trying to minimize the ones that lead to lawsuits.

      600 is not very many. It is statistically way less likely than a gun murder, but slightly more likely than a random spree-murder. So for every parent like Holly, there is another parent who lost their child in a similarly senseless act: Someone ignored basic safety rules.

      Sometimes, the person who makes the mistake pays with their own life. Sometimes it is just someone who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I doubt the parents feel better knowing it was a mistake, rather than a lunatic. I expect the school Administrators are horrified either way.

      • Accidental discharge = 1 person wounded maybe killed
        Spree-murder = multiple people murdered.

        The slightly higher risk of an accidental killing does not out way the lives of 30 people lost in a spree shooting.

        Accidental discharges are easily diminished by proper training, which could easily be done on a college campus, it could even be for credit.

        • proper training, which could easily be done on a college campus, it could even be for credit.


          When a college offers a gun safety course for credit, that’s when I know that the administrators at that school actually care about the safety of the students. Otherwise, I stand by my previous statement — college administrators don’t give a rat’s hat about the students.

  7. I’ve never understood why some people think more gun control laws will work after the failure of existing gun control laws.

    Seems to me the novel approach would be fewer gun control laws.

  8. She gets it. Why don’t others?

    My heart goes out to her and anyone who has lost a loved one to a madman’s rage.

  9. I feel for you Holly. I am a university professor and former Marine who finds it uncomfortable that I haven’t the choice of being properly armed on campus. I have the hands and the mindset; faced with someone with deadly intent, a good sidearm would make both of better utility.

  10. Thank you, Holly Adams for being a voice of sense and sanity in the howling media wilderness

    • I don’t know why you say that, I’ve heard the exact same argument countless times on this site.

      I’m opposed to campus carry, but I found Holly’s statement to be eloquent and heart-rending.

      Of course any parent of a VA Tech victim would have preferred that another student of professer had stopped Cho’s attack. Talk about a softball question.

      The real issue is whether arming those other good folks would do more good than harm in the long run. I’m not convinced that it would.

      • “Of course any parent of a VA Tech victim would have preferred that another student of professer had stopped [the shooter]’s attack. Talk about a softball question.”

        It may have been a softball question, but Holly specifically stated that she wished someone had been able to save her daughter life and the lives of others by shooting him (I will not give him the attention of using his name).

        “The real issue is whether arming those other good folks would do more good than harm in the long run. I’m not convinced that it would.”

        Then you’re an idiot. When someone argues with you on one of the ideas you post here what do you do? You fight back. When someone attacks us on the street, in our homes, anywhere we are, we simply want to fight back. We want to practice our God-given right to self defense and to defend those that can’t defend themselves. On here you fight with words with roughly equal skill to everyone else. For us, many of us don’t have the hand-to-hand combat skills needed to fight off a stronger, faster, often younger attacker without a weapon.

        You say that you wish that evil man had been stopped, but you aren’t sure the benefits of allowing responsible adults (who have passed a federal background check and investigation by the Virginia State Police) to carry concealed firearms outweighs the potential costs. You must be referring to accidental shootings, injuries, and deaths. Have you yourself, or have you ever heard of anyone accidentally cutting themselves with a steak knife, a cooking knife, etc.? Have you ever heard of anyone that attempted or committed suicide with a knife, maybe slitting their wrists? Have you ever heard of someone defending themselves from an attacker by using a knife? Should knives be banned and strictly regulated with monthly possession checks (like you suggested for guns)?

        If a knife is safe for society despite the potential for accidents, suicides, and misuse by criminals, what is so different about guns? Is it because the average person armed with a gun can kill more people, faster than the average person can with a knife? So if guns are more effective in the hands of an attacker than a knife, why shouldn’t someone who wants to defend themselves and others have the most effective tool as well?

  11. Can someone please tell me the legal basis for denying a citizen their right to self defense at certain locations?

    I cannot figure it out. The whole “private property rights” thing doesn’t hold water. I cannot conduct a dangerous operation in the middle of a residential neighborhood because that exposes the neighbors to undue risk — and their right to be secure and safe overrides my private property right to do something that would put them at risk. Well a property owner that prohibits firearms puts me at risk.

    About the only “sensitive location” I can picture where it would make sense to ban firearms would be something like a chemical or fuel refinery or a nuclear power plant … and then it would only be permissible if the facility was fenced with barbed wire, had armed guards, and metal detectors at all entrances.

    What am I missing?

    • Look, if you don’t get it, then you don’t get it.

      What would you do if someone wanted to do something on your property that you didn’t want them to do? Maybe you should rethink the issue.

      • Ralph I agree that a private property owner can control the use of their property. What the private property owner cannot do is infringe on anyone’s inalienable right to life. Prohibiting possession of firearms is prohibiting self defense and a person’s right to life.

    • I don’t think you understand what is meant by “private property,” that the owner/s have the right to determine what happens on that property, not a visitor to that propert. I am sorry, but I don’t know what most of your second paragraph is getting at.

      • KarlB I have heard people assert that a private property owner has a right to determine what happens on their property. I agree that private property owners have extremely wide latitude to determine what happens on their property. However they do not have unlimited latitude. As evidence of that fact, I mentioned that private property owners cannot conduct an activity that endangers their neighbors, e.g. test large bombs in their yard. Similarly, a private property owner cannot conduct an activity that disturbs the peace, e.g. play loud music all hours of the night. In fact a private property owner even has a limited obligation to protect the public. For example a private property owner that builds a tower is legally obligated to enclose it with a fence to prevent children from climbing it and injuring themselves. And pretty much every township has “setbacks” from roads to insure good visibility and safe driving.

        The right to life and self defense are inalienable. They are not a function of one’s location. The previous examples I listed show there are definite limits on what private property owners can do when their actions would jeopardize other citizens. So how can a private property owner tell guests that they cannot possess firearms and deny them the ability to defend themselves from an attack?

  12. If it’s concealed, how would they know ? This has become my ‘mantra’, so to speak. Unless there are metal detectors or pat-downs, who would know if you are carrying ? Save 30 lives and see if you get prosecuted. It would be an interesting case.

    • You’re thinking like a criminal right there. I’m sure that Jeffrey Skilling thought the same thing — I can get away with it, so what’s the harm.

      It’s not about what you can get away with, it’s about what you do when nobody’s looking. You’re either one of the good guys, or you’re one of the bad guys. You need to choose.

      • It’s a sad day in America when having the means to defend yourself is a criminal act, but I’m with Ralph on this one. Yes it’s a dumb law. Yes, it is incredibly ignorant on the business owner’s part. But yes, you are committing a criminal act by not disarming.
        Your chances of being caught with a gun in a “gun-free (for law-abiding citizens only) zone” are exponentially greater than the chances of you needing it.
        If you don’t like the rules, talk to the people who can change them. Write a letter to the business owner, the Dean of Students, or whoever you need to, explain your reasoning in a logical way. Invite some friends to do the same. Who knows, maybe you might see that sign disappear from the storefront/policy binder.
        But blatantly, knowingly ignoring the rules is not the way to make friends and win influence. A legal CCW holder getting arrested for ignoring gun-free zones is just fuel for MikeB, Nancy Pelosi, and Micheal Bloomburg’s fire. That news story writes itself for the Anti-gun crowd.

        It sucks, and it doesn’t make sense, but not being able to carry somewhere sure beats the hell out of not being able to carry ANYWHERE.

        • KYgunner stated,
          “It’s a sad day in America when having the means to defend yourself is a criminal act …”.

          I have never read a more poignant way to say it. But the more important question is how can it be a criminal act? The obvious answer is that it can’t … see my post above. Are there laws that criminalize it? Sure. Are they legitimate? No because they violate Natural law. What scares me the most is that many gun rights people are having trouble grasping that.

          • I think that the problem is that the “Carry wherever I want to” idea solidly butts heads with the idea that you have control of your own property. Which is another constitutional idea.

            Point taken that in the case of pools, trampolines, towers, and other “high-risk” endeavors, you have to make reasonable accommodations to keep the public safe and are held liable if that standard is not met. And in the same vein, I would fully support well-written legislation that holds business owners accountable for the damages incurred if a CCW holder is disarmed by walking on the property and they don’t provide adequate protection. Often the way to a corporations heart is through their wallet, and if they know that they can be liable for millions of dollars in damages by having a sign in the window, you would see dumpsters full of “No firearms allowed” plaques.

            So what do you do when two fundamental rights are in clear violation of each other? You have to find a middle-ground (i.e. put the gun in the glovebox while you shop), or change the laws/policy. My point still stands that you can’t just break the law because its a bad law. You’ll end up just as much in jail over a bad law than a good one.

          • KYgunner asked,
            “So what do you do when two fundamental rights are in clear violation of each other?”

            We already know the answer: the right to life supersedes property rights. This is codified in law. As a private property owner, I cannot shoot at a criminal trespassing on my property who is actively trying to steal something. I cannot shoot the criminal unless the criminal attacks me or threatens to attack me with deadly force.

            The only “middle ground” that I can see is requiring a guest to strictly follow the four golden rules of firearm safety and requiring the guest to leave if they fail to obey the rules.

  13. O boy this one and the comments just seem to ding with me. My baby brother is currently a student at tech and i had an ex who went there for several semesters so i worry that something could happen again particularly with the incident a while back where a cop was shot on campus. On top of that my girlfriend and i will be moving to San Jose in the near future so i can understand the worry about being disarmed and actually needing your firearm. When i was going to a small local community college i wasn’t as worried because the laws weren’t really enforced, being that it was in a very small community in southwest Virginia and gun rights are kinda common sense here the whole outta sight thing outta mind thing came into play. I never carried a gun on campus but i know several guys who “forgot” they had theirs on or just ignored it. Now a little background is we were all in the criminal justice department and the cops kinda figured having several ex military and reserve officers on campus who may or may not be armed wasn’t a big deal if anything did happen and they never saw anything so they really couldn’t search people even if they suspected lol. Now when i transferred to an actual university a branch of UVA all the guns were checked when you went on campus with campus police, I know several people who checked their pistols because they lived in dorms or their hunting rifles/shotguns at hunting season (they can’t even do that now, no guns at all on campus). I know this i felt in less danger knowing/suspecting that the psycho come to shoot the place up wouldn’t be the only one with a gun in the fight and probably not the best trained. I fully support having these stupid laws revoked the only one they put in danger are students who actually follow them.

    • Just a side point for the record. The police officer shot on campus recently was shot by someone who had committed robbery the previous day in a nearby town/city (Radford) that is roughly 18 miles away. This person was not a student at Virginia Tech. The shooting occurred on campus in between the two parking lots for students that live on campus. The officer was in his vehicle attending to a separate traffic stop when the person walked up and shot the officer. The only reason Virginia Tech was involved is due to it’s proximity to Radford, VA where this crazy person started off the end of his life.

      • ok man no offense but ive been there most people spend as much time in both locations. Most people that go to tech head to Radford to party and a goodly portion of Radford have friends at tech. The two campuses are almost interconnected in that a conversation of more than a few minutes with students at either school the other school is gonna get brought up. just thought id bring that up.

  14. First off, I will say I very much agree with the sentiment that nobody should speak for anyone but themselves or the family they represent. Ms. Adams’ views are perfectly legitimate, and its unfortunate that some may have implied they represented the views of all the victims’ families and not just some. THAT SAID:

    I could not disagree with what Ms. Adams wrote more. Obviously a tragic and life-shattering event took her daughter away from her, and I cannot sympathize with her plight more. However, the pain of losing a child does not make the ‘what-if’s’ in her article rational.

    Would the other parents of victims be forever thankful if a professor or student was allowed to carry a firearm and could have stopped Seung-Hui Cho before their loved one was injured or killed? I would be.

    Of course they would be. But the hero who stops a mass-murderer by carrying a gun on campus is not the real outcome of this situation.

    1) My mind immediately goes to the 20/20 or 60 minutes or whatever news magazine did a piece a few years back where they set up students in a mock class room, and then watched them react to a fake shooter coming in. Not even the most confident, well-trained the students had any chance against the shooter. This may not be explicitly scientific, but it certainly was illustrative of how radically different wielding a gun is at a shooting range vs. in a high-pressure, do or die scenario. I strongly question the assumption that there are more than one or two students (I’m thinking specifically of military-trained veterans) on campus who could truly handle themselves in this type of situation.

    2) More importantly, I believe that having a second ‘shooter’, even if he is a ‘good guy’, compounds a situation in a very negative manner. Suddenly police officers–those trained to handle responses to gunmen, are forced to question whether or not they are taking out a vigilant, legally-armed citizen, or whether they are taking out the killer. Conflicting reports of how many gunmen there are might delay their entry into a building for fear of not being prepared. Students and teachers have no clue whether they are facing an accomplice of the killer or an ally. Moreover, if there is more than one ‘good guy’ we suddenly encounter a situation in which two well-intentioned gun-carriers are facing down each other, each mistakenly believing the other to be a killer. What you must remember is that in a scenario like a mass-shooting, emotions and stress are off the charts and time is measured in seconds. You don’t have time to truly analyze your surroundings, determine false positives, defuse a situation, etc, and this is made worse by the fact that you likely don’t have the training a police officer has.

    3) If we are NOT dealing with a shooting, then the day-to-day existence of guns on campus can do nothing but risk escalating situations. Firearms are unique in their ability to be the ‘final say’ in an altercation. While to the best of my knowledge, Tech is a campus with relatively few incidents of this nature, I for one would certainly not welcome the day where a fight between two freshmen leads one to go back to his room and come back with a gun, angry and not thinking clearly. I don’t mean to dramatize that type of situation, but the reality is that guns allow people to make life-altering decisions in a split second, and I feel much more comfortable living and learning in an area where that risk is drastically reduced.

    I need to stress that I am by no means against gun-rights. I just think that campuses offer an important (and perhaps unique) sanctuary where the need for guns is negligible and is vastly outweighed by the social costs of allowing them to be present. Those who believe concealed carry would prevent another 4/16 really underestimate 1) how effectively a citizen can wield a firearm in that type of situation 2) how their presence effects legitimate law enforcement from doing their job.

    • OK lemme comment on some of your points here man
      3) the age for a permit in virginia is 21, what differentiates a 21 year old living in an off campus apartment from one that is living on campus in the dorms or just attending classes there? Does the simple fact of being on a college campus instead of at their home or just an average street where they could normally carry somehow make someone less mature/intelligent/responsible? Just because they are attending college they cant be expected to make responsible decisions about lethal force as oppose to the same person making a similar decision off campus?
      2) ok you have a point here without some way to differentiate good guy/bad guy the chance of the wrong person being shot goes way way up. that being said i recently read an article where on force on force and blue on blue shootings with police officers, it stated that even if cops were wearing a uniform it is incredibly easy to shoot a fellow officer in a situation where different numbers of officers would be entering a building from different doors (like an active shooter scenario). Then they threw in plain clothes officers entering as well to see how that played out. Just to sum it up it was really easy for officers to actually shoot each other accidentally the article actually was used as a justification for wearing your traffic vest when in an active shooter scenario because cops/military/civilian shooters are trained not to shoot because of the similarity to what range officers wear. The point being even though the danger is incredibly high to the officer would you rather he wait or go in and try to save you?
      1) ok well here’s my question would if that one or two students that could react fast enough was in a classroom with you would you want him disarmed or in a position to react and save lives?

    • Kyle you are factually incorrect.

      Regarding (1)
      That 20/20 “experiment” was a farce. First of all, the “armed” students were wearing big gloves. Second, they were wearing untucked shirts that practically went to their knees. Both the gloves and shirts seriously interfered with their actions and no one wears anything like that in a classroom. Third, not only was the “shooter” a highly skilled marksman and firearms trainer, he also knew which student was armed, where they were sitting, and that just one person was armed before entering the classroom! Additionally, the “criminal” did not have to deal with adrenalin affects because he knew everything in the setting and wasn’t facing a real possibility of death. You also have to understand that a person can function for at least 10 seconds after taking a gunshot to the chest. Even if a real criminal had shot an armed student, the armed student would be capable of returning fire for that 10 seconds — more than enough time to mortally wound the criminal thus ending his attack within 10 seconds thereafter. And to top it all off, there are countless examples of armed citizens successfully defending themselves from armed attackers. So your claims that armed students or faculty wouldn’t be able to successfully defend themselves are not reality.

      Regarding (2)
      There won’t be any confusion for responding law enforcement officers because the attack would be over within seconds of the mass murderer encountering an armed student/professor who returns fire. There are two reasons for this. First of all, there is an excellent chance that an armed student or professor could promptly shoot the criminal and incapacitate them. Second, in virtually all mass murder events, the attacker commits suicide as soon as they face armed resistance. So even if an armed student or professor fired a few shots at the attacker and missed, the attacker would most likely turn their gun on themselves believing that they could no longer wreak havoc. Finally, let’s say the mass murderer manages to go through several rooms without running into an armed student or faculty member, law enforcement arrives, and begins searching the building. An armed student or professor wouldn’t be roaming the halls with their pistol drawn “hunting” the mass murderer. They would be in a room behind cover with other students or faculty in a defensive position waiting for law enforcement to clear the building. Law enforcement personnel don’t accidentally shoot armed citizens/students/faculty in those situations.

      Regarding (3)
      Your claims that firearms risk escalating day-to-day situations is baseless. First, only seniors who are 21 years of age qualify for concealed handgun licenses. So your concerns about freshman are meaningless. Second, those seniors that have their handgun licenses are behaving themselves everywhere else off campus. There is no medical or psychological mechanism that would cause those people to behave differently or have any less self-control on a campus. Third, there are several universities in Utah and Colorado (and most recently Oregon I believe) that recognize a citizen’s right to possess firearms for personal defense on their campuses. Utah has recognized that right since 2006 and Colorado soon thereafter. I cannot find a single instance of a student or faculty member who have licenses to carry handguns using them inappropriately.

      So to summarize all of your assertions are erroneous. Armed citizens do successfully defend themselves often — even in very dire/bleak circumstances. Law enforcement officers who respond to attacks on armed citizens are not shooting the armed citizens out of confusion because the attack is over by the time they arrive. And your desire to reduce the risk of licensed concealed handgun carriers shooting innocent victims on campus is meaningless because there is no risk — it doesn’t happen. You cannot reduce the risk of something that never happens. Finally, your statement that campuses are sanctuaries is not only grossly erroneous but perhaps most offensive: there are thousands of violent crimes on campuses every year. And while the violent crime rates on campuses may be something like half the violent crime rate averaged across the entire country, I hardly consider that a “sanctuary”.

      • Except for the whole factually incorrect part, but you’ve stated quite clearly in the past that facts are irrelevant if they do not meet with your approval.

  15. You know, legalizing campus carry doesn’t mean colleges will suddenly be flooded with guns. Even in the most gun-friendly states, carriers are the vast minority. Just because people can doesn’t mean they will.

    By and large, college students are leftist-brainwashed idiots. It’s fine and natural; it’s a byproduct of that age and the smart ones eventually grow out of it. But believing that tons of college students would own a gun let alone carry it is a stretch. I’d assert that the majority of students who would carry were raised in households that were gun-friendly, where responsibility and safety were taught to them.

    • You say, “By and large, college students are leftist-brainwashed idiots.” But. when I say SOME gun owners are unfit and irresponsible, you get all upset.

      Oh, let me guess. Being a college student is not a natural, god-given, constitutionslly protected right.

    • Sadly i gotta agree wit silver, despite my story. I was in the extreme minority because i live in the rural south and because i was in criminal justice. We had an unusually high number of people who had knowledge/experience with firearms.

  16. When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get three e-mails with the same comment.
    Is there any way you can remove people from that service?

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