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After Virginia Tech

Guns, Safety, and Healing in the Era of Mass Shootings
Thomas P. Kapsidelis

BUY Cloth · 272 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813942223 · $29.95 · Apr 2019
BUY Ebook · 272 pp. · ISBN 9780813942230 · $19.95 · Apr 2019
BUY Paper · 272 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813944500 · $19.95 · Feb 2020

In what has become the era of the mass shooting, we are routinely taken to scenes of terrible violence. Often neglected, however, is the long aftermath, including the efforts to effect change in the wake of such tragedies. On April 16, 2007, thirty-two Virginia Tech students and professors were murdered. Then the nation’s deadliest mass shooting by a lone gunman, the tragedy sparked an international debate on gun culture in the United States and safety on college campuses. Experiencing profound grief and trauma, and struggling to heal both physically and emotionally, many of the survivors from Virginia Tech and their supporters put themselves on the front lines to advocate for change. Yet since that April, large-scale gun violence has continued at a horrifying pace.

In After Virginia Tech, award-winning journalist Thomas Kapsidelis examines the decade after the Virginia Tech massacre through the experiences of survivors and community members who have advocated for reforms in gun safety, campus security, trauma recovery, and mental health. Undaunted by the expansion of gun rights, they have continued their national leadership despite an often-hostile political environment and repeated mass violence. Kapsidelis also focuses on the trauma suffered by police who responded to the shootings, and the work by chaplains and a longtime police officer to create an organization dedicated to recovery. The stories Kapsidelis tells here show how people and communities affected by profound loss ultimately persevere long after the initial glare and attention inevitably fade. Reaching beyond policy implications, After Virginia Tech illuminates personal accounts of recovery and resilience that can offer a ray of hope to millions of Americans concerned about the consequences of gun violence.


Kapsidelis tells the story of mass shootings unwaveringly from the perspective of survivors. His voice is quiet, empathetic, sensitive, trustworthy, accurate, and never overwrought, conveying empathy without pathos. Kapsidelis’s account of the actual day of the shooting, and the shooting itself, is brilliant. At a time when guns are posited as the only way to preserve life and safety, the events at Virginia Tech suggest that there are other means of survival and heroism.

Pamela Haag, author of The Gunning of America: Business and the Making of American Gun Culture

Well-researched and clearly written, [the] book's major accomplishment is the author's exploration of the healing process.... Too many accounts of murderous rampages fail to offer long-term insights into the trauma faced by survivors, but Kapsidelis provides useful information on the topic, including discussions of 'gun violence as a health issue.'... An important book for policymakers and those interested in the continuing, depressingly widespread instances of gun violence.

Kirkus Reviews

[O]utstanding. In his book, Kapsidelis uses his newspaper expertise — reporting and editing — to fashion a saga worthy of the memory of those 27 students and five faculty members murdered on April 16, 2007.

The Virginia Gazette

In After Virginia Tech: Guns, Safety, and Healing in the Era of Mass Shootings, Kapsidelis weaves together the stories of survivors, families and first responders as they navigate how to heal from what was the worst mass shooting in the United States for nearly a decade.

Roanoke Times

It's not a blood-soaked, minute-by-minute account of what many have called a massacre. Instead, Kapsidelis tells the story of the Virginia Tech shootings and their aftermath through the eyes and voices of the survivors.

Richmond Magazine

Former RTD editor looks at long, hard road of healing in After Virginia Tech.

Richmond Times-Dispatch

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