I was struck by the thoughtlessness and lack of clarity in comments that President Bush made about the Virginia Tech shootings during a town meeting last week in Tipp City, Ohio.

"One of the lessons of these tragedies is to make sure that when people see somebody or know somebody that is exhibiting abnormal behavior to do something about it or suggest that somebody take a look," Bush said at Tippecanoe High School.

And how would Bush define "abnormal" behavior, and what "something" would he do about it?

Does he mean that we should spy on the person? Call the police? Remand him to a psychiatric facility? Interrogate him? Crank up our paranoia, like Bush had us do after 9/11?

You can't reduce everybody down to "normal" or "abnormal." Bush's sitting frozen in a second-grade classroom after being told by aide Andrew Card that our nation was under attack may be deemed "abnormal" behavior.

Bush's quickness to anger and his statement that because he is commander in chief, he doesn't need to explain why he says things, may be considered "abnormal."

There is no way to predict who is going to go off the deep end, or where or how he will.

But when somebody does go off, we can have gun laws that make it more difficult for people like that person to obtain automatic weapons.

Remember, no abnormal behavior was exhibited by Cho Seung-Hui when he purchased his guns.

Judy Rubin

Philadelphia