Bredesen against using Virginia Tech massacre in gun control debate

Hank Hayes • Apr 21, 2007 at 12:42 PM

KINGSPORT - Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen said Friday he doesn't feel like the state's gun laws should be made more restrictive in reaction to Monday's shooting rampage at Virginia Tech.

Bredesen, who was in Kingsport for a breakfast hosted by Northeast Tennessee chambers of commerce, had declared Friday a statewide "Day of Mourning" for victims of the Virginia Tech shootings, joining Tennessee with other states expressing sorrow and support for the families and friends of those who were killed and injured.

"That was a terrible, terrible tragedy there," Bredesen told business leaders at the breakfast.

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine had also declared Friday a statewide "Day of Mourning" in Virginia and sent a letter to other governors asking them to join the effort.

Bredesen sided with Kaine, who indicated after the killings that the incident shouldn't be exploited politically by gun control advocates.

"I think what Tim said on that is exactly right, which is ‘For heaven sakes, let's get through the mourning, and figure this out before we start using this as a vehicle for two different sides of a contentious issue like gun control,'" Bredesen said after the breakfast. "It's hard for me to imagine any kind of gun control that would be acceptable across the country that would have particularly prevented this. ... I don't think this tragedy should be turned to the purposes of that (gun control) debate."

But, Bredesen added, his administration is trying to learn from what happened at Virginia Tech.

"I had much smaller tastes of that kind of thing when tornados came through the state," he said. "This is obviously very different from that. ... We are obviously giving a lot of thought that is there anything we need to be doing in our own system to keep this thing from happening."

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, a gun control advocacy group, pointed to the results of a Survey USA poll of the Lynchburg-Roanoke, Va. area. Fifty percent of the respondents thought the Virginia Tech shootings were "completely" or "partially" avoidable. Only 17 percent thought allowing guns on campus would have saved lives in the shootings, while 52 percent thought Virginia's gun laws should be more restrictive.

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