04-24-2008, 05:53 PM
Join Date: Sep 2007
Va. Tech shooting gun dealer to visit campus (AP)
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — The online weapons dealer who sold one of the guns used in the Virginia Tech shootings is planning to visit the campus Thursday, a decision the school's spokesman said is "terribly offensive."
Dealer Eric Thompson was scheduled to speak at the school Thursday night as part of a week-long demonstration in favor of allowing people to carry concealed weapons on college campuses.
A school administrator denounced the visit in a statement Wednesday, saying it was "terribly offensive" that Thompson would set foot on campus.
"The organizers appear to be incredibly insensitive to the families of the victims who lost loved ones and to the injured students still recovering from this horrendous tragedy," the statement issued by Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker said.
Ken Stanton, president of the university's chapter of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, the group advocating weapons on campus, said he lost a friend in the April 2007 massacre and it taught him "firsthand the importance of self-protection."
FIND MORE STORIES IN: Wisconsin | Virginia Tech | Green Bay | Thompson | Seung-Hui Cho | Northern Illinois University | Larry Hincker
Virginia Tech last week marked the first anniversary of the shootings in a dormitory and classroom building in which 33 died, including shooter Seung-Hui Cho.
Cho bought a Walther .22-caliber handgun through Thompson's online site, based in Green Bay, Wis. Through another company website, Thompson also sold handgun accessories to the man who killed five Northern Illinois University students and himself in February.
Thompson told television station WBAY in Green Bay this week that "what I'm really hoping to do (during the visit) is just lend a voice. Unfortunately, a set of coincidences and circumstances, I've been in the media, and I think with that I have a special responsibility to help out."
"And this is a case where I think my advocacy here will help change some people's minds. I hope, anyway," Thompson said.
Stanton, a Virginia Tech graduate student, said he only began receiving complaints about the planned appearance after the Hincker statement was issued. He said he had never considered carrying a gun until the shootings, in which his friend Jeremy Herbstritt died.
Members of the student group, which claims a membership of 25,000 nationwide and 200 at Virginia Tech, are wearing empty holsters to classes this week to protest laws and policies that restrict concealed weapons on campuses.
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