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Columbine: Ten Years Later

Gun advocates have constantly fought to stifle any legislation on the issue.Ten years after that horrific day, we still find asking ourselves: Why? Could this have been prevented? Tragically, we come to realize that answering such a question is not plausible. Two new books on the event reveal unfortunate lapses and intentional cover-ups by the authorities and cluelessness on the part of the boys’ parents. Gun advocates have constantly fought to stifle any legislation on the issue.On the quiet spring morning of April 20, 1999, Columbine High School emerged from relative obscurity as a typical suburban high school and became internationally known as a symbol of school violence and tragic loss. There have been more than 80 school shootings since Columbine, a testament to the fact that we still don’t understand what leads to these acts of mass murder.

In the wake of the Columbine tragedy, we witnessed a changing platform towards school violence. The United States also saw a reaffirmation from right wing zealots who clutched to outdated gun laws for dear life that reforming gun accessibility was off the table. The National Rifle Association would hold its annual convention in Denver that year, less than 20 miles away from Columbine High School and almost two weeks after the massacre. However, Colorado would tighten restrictions on gun sales at gun shows, but national legislation failed to pass muster in Congress. An epidemic of profiling swept US high schools, but it was based largely on the stereotypical idea that the killers were bullied outcasts.

As we have come to learn, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, two smart, apparently “normal young boys about to graduate,” planned the Columbine attack for more than year. Rather than being bullied, they were the bullies. Nor were they social outcasts, as we have built the typical profile of the mass shooter to be. Harris and Klebold were not the “Trenchcoat Mafia,” and they were not loners warped by video games. Details have emerged recently illustrating just how greatly they planned to kill “thousands of people”, including their own friends. They had in fact prepared bombs to kill emergency responders and parents; however, the poorly made bombs didn’t go off as planned.

Ten years after that horrific day, we still find asking ourselves: Why? Could this have been prevented? Tragically, we come to realize that answering such a question is not plausible. Two new books on the event reveal unfortunate lapses and intentional cover-ups by the authorities and cluelessness on the part of the boys’ parents. Just how did these teens obtain guns? More importantly, why have we been unable to prevent the successor shootings to Columbine, such as Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois among countless others?

In the past month alone, 57 Americans have been killed in mass shootings across the country. In Binghamton, New York, a 41-year-old Vietnamese immigrant, Jiverly Wong, killed 14 people, including himself. On March 22, four Oakland police officers lost their lives. One week later, eight people lost their lives in a shooting at a retirement home in North Carolina. All of these recent shootings come in the midst of a national spurt in gun sales that began in November.

Some analysts have tied in the timing of the gun sales to the election of President Obama. The NRA and its advocates, such as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, have consistently claimed that Obama was going to ban guns. Obama has stated he has no intention to do so; however, on April 4, Richard Poplawski shot three officers at his home. Rants on a white supremacist website indicate he was preoccupied with the idea that President Obama was going to overturn the Second Amendment.

After Columbine and Virginia Tech, our nation engaged in a somewhat promising debate on gun control. However, the gun advocates proved too influencing on the bureaucracy. The Obama White House has hardly been the profile of courage in this regard; if anything, it has been the antagonist of. Recent calls by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to re-impose an assault weapons ban to make it harder for American gun traffickers to arm Mexican drug cartels received a chilly reception by the President.

Approximately 300,000 Americans have died from gun violence since Columbine. Although there is strong public support for stricter gun control laws, very little has been done to curb this epidemic. Our failure in this regard is owed to a record of failed leadership, blind ideology, and raw intimidation and power by the gun lobby and industry. We owe it to the victims of Columbine to open a transparent debate on guns in our nation. Otherwise, we have simply wasted a decade since this tragedy and also allowed many more to take place.

About Huda Jawad

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  • flimflam

    Salaams,

    What responsibility to you have to defend your family Sr. Huda?

    I have a responsibility to defend my family from an intruder into our home. It is not the police department’s, FBI or the military’s job. If I leave it up to them, then I’m failing my deen in a basic function, that of a protector of the family. Having a handgun, a rifle or a shotgun legally bought is a good thing. Knowing how to use it properly, effectively and safely is a good thing.

    How many gun owners did you speak with before you wrote this article? Did you ask them why they own guns?

    A final question for you. If Prophet Muhammad (sawa) and Imam Ali were living here in this country today, do you think they would own guns or no?

  • A.

    [quote]In the past month alone, 57 Americans have been killed in mass shootings across the country[/quote]

    It’s become abnormally scary..do we ban guns? I dont think thats a solution either.

  • masooma

    I don’t think guns are the problem or the solution. There is something else altogether that is the real problem here. Until the underlying issues are identified and solved, these incidents will continue to happen.

    We all know it is not access to guns that made the people decide to kill, it just made it simpler and faster. At the same time, guns are important for security and survival and protection against the government – so much part of the American fabric it is ridiculous to try to remove them. I own a gun and most people I know do as well, but we learn how and when to use them responsibly. I actually tend to agree with flimflam about Ahlulbayt (as), but Allah swt knows best.

  • J.H.

    FilmFlam, did you actually read the article? Because it didn’t even address the issue of gun control, nor was that the topic. What it’s asking for is honest and open dialogue on who can purchase guns and how they can be used. You may have a gun to protect your family at home, but God-forbid some gunman in public attacks you or someone you know, then what?

    The notion of bringing in Ahl Bayt [as] passes very little muster, because they are Infallibles, unlike the people who have dominated the news these past weeks for killing their families with guns.

    At the very least, we need to ban mentally deranged people from having weapons.

  • peacelover

    Actually, every person has the right to defend his/her family. Guns may or may not be the solution. That is not the issue. The common factor of all the recent shooting tragedies, were that the shooter(s) had some sort of mental anxiety/depressive/ psychoses which contributed to their erratic behaviour. Having failed to receive treatment for their illness(es), we see each of them slipping through the cracks. The outcome is the tragic loss of life. So really had more atttention been allocated to the welfare of mental health issues, some of the past tragedies could have been avoided. Questions regarding whether or not Our Masoomeen (A.S.) would approve of weapons, or arm themselves, is a ridiculous question to ask at this time. The real problem lies in what makes these ill people “flip” enough to take out a whole classroom of innocent individuals.