How the Columbine Massacre Started the Debate About Gun Ownership

We are witnesses of the increase in the number of mass shootings all across the United States; this year, as well as the year 2016, are known to have more than one mass shooting daily. These incidents, especially larger mass shootings, like the one in Las Vegas, have caused stirring with the people of the United States. More and more people believe that there are measures that need to be taken in order to prevent incidents such as these from taking place. However, one mass shooting that started the campaign for banning guns and left a permanent imprint in the hearts and minds of the American people is certainly the Columbine High School massacre.

What happened in Columbine?

In 1999, two students entered their high school carrying both small and large-caliber guns, as well as homemade pipe bombs, in an attempt to kill and wound as many people as possible. They set the bombs in various locations around the school in an attempt to maximize their damage, as well as to stop and repel the potential police forces that would come to stop them. Thankfully, the bombs failed to go off, but the attackers still managed to kill and wound a number of people; twelve students and one teacher were murdered, numerous others were injured, and the two perpetrators committed suicide. At the time, it was considered to be the deadliest school shooting in the history of the United States.

How and why did it happen?

Unfortunately, the final motive remains unclear, as the investigation that followed did not produce substantial methods as to what made these two seniors do what they did. There were some initial speculations that the two students were victims of bullying; however, further investigation dismissed that possibility, as evidence pointed out that they were often the ones that would bully other students and not the other way around. What we do know about the massacre is that it was meticulously prepared: more than a year was spent in research, planning, and acquiring the weaponry for the act. Some papers even call it a “poorly-executed terrorist attack”.

What are the consequences?

This massacre was the news story with the most coverage in 1999; undoubtedly, panic arose among American citizens.

The school system responded by issuing numerous security measures, like transparent school backpacks, school uniforms, various sorts of metal-detecting devices, and even security guards, in order to prevent incidents like this from occurring. Also, numerous negative incidents followed the Columbine massacre; more than 60 subsequent shootings that happened around the world are said to be inspired by the 1999 shooting. Legal actions were taken by the relatives and the victims, and federal laws were passed that would ban minors and criminals from purchasing arms. Safety locks became mandatory on firearms, and high-capacity gun magazines became prohibited. Numerous documentaries and articles were made, criticizing the passion that Americans have about firearms.

What is the result?

Although we are still far from a universally effective solution, we are arguably making an effort to correct something deeply rooted within the identity and laws of our country. Things are most certainly not ideal, with more than one mass shooting daily in the United States. We need to implement stricter regulations for gun owners, as well as some kind of ability test for those who handle firearms in the future. However, today we can safely say that the Columbine massacre became a warning for us to create a better and safer future for all Americans.