A SOMBER ANNIVERSARY

It’s been 20 years since the massacre at  Columbine, yet the school shootings continue. A look for answers and possible solutions.

Aired on April 18, 2019.

TRANSCRIPT

> 1999, ON THAT DAY, TWO HEAVILY ARMED STUDENTS, ERIC HARRIS AND DYLAN KLEBOLD WALKED INTO THEIR HIGH SCHOOL AND KILLED 13 PEOPLE BEFORE TURNING THEIR GUNS ON THEMSELVES.

IT IS NOW FOREVER SEARED INTO THE NATION'S PSYCHE AS IS THE NAME OF THE SCHOOL BY WHICH THE MASSACRE WILL ALWAYS BE KNOWN.

COLUMBINE.

IT WAS AT THE TIME THE DEADLIEST SCHOOL SHOOTING IN AMERICA'S HISTORY BUT SINCE THEN, THERE HAS BEEN A PROLIFERATION OF MASS SLAUGHTERS, SOME OF THEM COMMITTED BY THE COLUMBINE KILLERS.

WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED SINCE COLUMBINE IS THIS WHY DO MASS SHOOTINGS CONTINUE IN THIS COUNTRY?

WHAT HAPPENS TO COMMUNITIES THAT HAVE BEEN VICTIMS OF THESE EVENTS WHEN THE TV CAMERAS GO AWAY?

COULD THINGS REALLY CHANGE AFTER PARKLAND?

JOINING US TO TALK ABOUT ALL THIS, THE AUTHOR OF THE BOOK, COLUMBINE, WIDELY CONSIDERED THE DEFINITIVE HISTORY OF THE COLUMBINE SHOOTING.

DAVE, THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

NOW, DAVE, WHAT ARE THE CHIEF LESSONS THAT WE SHOULD HAVE LEARNED FROM COLUMBINE AND HAVE WE BY AND LARGE LEARNED THEM?

WELL, THERE ARE LESSONS AND WE'VE GOTTEN EITHER AN 'A' OR AN 'F.'

THE COPS HAVE COMPLETELY CHANGED THEIR TACTICS.

SCHOOLS HAVE CREATED LOCKDOWN DRILLS AND TRAINED TEACHERS AND STUDENTS FOR ALL SORTS OF THINGS, ADDED ALL SORTS OF SECURITY MEASURES.

I WOULD GIVE AN 'A' ON THAT.

IN TERMS OF GETTING THE TEACHERS AND ESPECIALLY STUDENTS TO BE AWARE, IN THE SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING IDEA, AND KIDS REPORTING THEM TO FOIL THINGS BEFORE THEY HAPPEN, ALSO DOING FANTASTIC.

MANY MORE ARE FOILED NOW THAN ACTUALLY GO THROUGH.

BUT THEN A COUPLE OTHER AREAS WHERE WE'VE FAILED MISERABLY.

AND MOST OF THESE TURN OUT TO BE, THE VAST MAJORITY TURN OUT TO BE SUICIDALLY DEPRESSED KIDS.

THEY REALLY START FUNDAMENTALLY AS A SUICIDE WHICH BECOMES AN AGGRESSIVE HOMICIDE AS WELL.

SO THE ISSUE IS TEEN DEPRESSION AND EVEN SCREENING FOR TEEN DEPRESSION.

WE HAVE DONE ZERO.

SO THAT'S APPALLING.

WE GET AN 'F' THERE.

MAYBE WORST OF ALL IS THE GUNS ISSUE.

WHERE THESE ONLY HAPPEN AFTER THE MASSIVE NUMBERS BECAUSE OF GUNS.

NOT ONLY AN 'F.'

WE'VE ACTUALLY RETREATED.

AT THE TIME OF COLUMBINE, THERE WAS AN ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN WHICH HAS EXPIRED.

SO WE'VE MADE ZERO PROGRESS AND WE'VE GONE BACKWARDS.

LET'S TURN TO THE MEDIA.

AS YOU KNOW, SOME CRITICS ARGUE THAT THE MEDIA IS IN SOME WAY, COMPLICIT WITH THESE KILLINGS.

BECAUSE AT LEAST PART OF MOTIVATION IS TO GET WIDE ATTENTION AND THEY KNOW THEY WILL, AFTER THE EVENT, FROM 24/7 COVERAGE IN THE MEDIA.

WOULD YOU GO THAT FAR?

I THINK THE MEDIA IS TOTALLY COMPLICIT.

WHEN YOU SEE THESE KILLERS, THEY'RE LASHING OUT.

IT IS NOT SO MUCH ABOUT SEEKING FAME OR NOTORIETY.

IT IS MORE A DESIRE TO BE HEARD AND TO FEEL POWERFUL.

NEARLY ALL OF THEM FEEL HELPLESS AND HOPELESS.

THEY FEEL EXCLUDED AND KIND OF PATHETIC.

SO THEY'RE AT THE END OF THEIR ROPE.

AND THEY'RE JUST LITERALLY DYING FOR ATTENTION.

TO FEEL POWERFUL AND TO FEEL HEARD.

SO WE IN THE MEDIA GIVE THEM THE MICROPHONE.

THE POWER, THE FOUR TO FIVE DAYS OF GLORY WHERE THEY'RE THE BIGGEST STAR IN THE WORLD.

SO WE ARE HANDING THAT TO HELP.

PARKLAND REALLY FIT THAT SCRIPT.

EVERYONE KNOWS THEM.

BECAUSE THEY MADE THEMSELVES MORE INTERESTING THAN THE KILLER.

MOST PEOPLE DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT THE KILLER'S NAME IS.

SO PERHAPS THEY'VE CREATED A TEMPLATE WHERE OTHER SURVIVORS FOLLOW IN THEIR FOOTSTEPS AND DO THE SAME THING.

NOW MAYBE THE VICTIMS WILL BE MORE INTERESTING THAN THE KILLERS AND WE'VE DIMINISHED THE KILLERS.

INSTEAD OF THE MEDIA DOING IT, MAYBE THE SURVIVORS CAN DO IT.

THEY'VE SEEN SO MUCH LESS TRAUMATIZED.

THE COLUMBINE VICTIMS, IT WAS SUCH A LEFT HOOK, RIGHT HOOK OUT OF NOWHERE.

IT WAS ATTE IT WAS TANTAMOUNT TO ALIENS ATTACKING.

IT WAS SHOOTERING THE WORLD VIEW OF WHAT WAS SAFE AND WHAT DANGERS WERE OUT THERE AND THINGS THEY HAD NEVER CONSIDERED.

SO THAT WAS JUST THIS UNTHINKABLE THING THAT HAPPENED AND SHATTERED THE WORLD VIEW.

WITH PARKLAND, THEY DIDN'T GO THROUGH IT THAT WAY.

IT WAS MORE LIKE, A HORRIBLE FIRE HAD COME TO THE SCHOOL.

I SAY THAT BECAUSE THEY DID FIRE DRILLS, LOCK DOWN DRILLS.

THESE ARE KNOWN THROUGHOUT THE BEST PART OF THE WORLD.

A LOCKDOWN DRILL.

THEY KNOW IT WILL HAPPEN TO SOMEONE AND NOW IT HAPPEN TO US.

SO WHEN IT SWEPT THROUGH, IT WOULD BE AWFUL.

FRIENDS ARE DEAD BUT FIRES HAPPEN.

IT DIDN'T SHATTER OUR WORLD VIEW THAT THERE WAS A FIRE.

NOW, TO TAKE THAT ANALOGY A LITTLE FURTHER, IF THERE WERE ONGOING FIRES BECAUSE BUILDINGS WERE BEING IGNORED, AND WE COULD DO SOMETHING AND WE WERE NOT, AND WE WERE LETTING KIDS DIE BY ALL THESE FIRES, THAT IS WHAT THIS IS HERE.

THERE IS THIS KNOWN THREAT.

ALL WE DO IS PLAN FOR AFTER SOMEBODY IS SHOOTING SOMEBODY.

AND WE HAVEN'T DONE ANYTHING TO STOP THE PROBLEM SO THESE KIDS, THEY GREW ONE THIS KNOWN THREAT BUT REALLY PISSED OFF.

WHY IS THERE THIS THREAT AND YOU'RE LETTING US DIE.

YOU'RE CHOOSING TO LET YOUR KIDS DIE.

AND IT MAY BE YOUR KIDS NEXT, WHO KNOWS?

BUT SOME OF US WILL DIE.

ALL RIGHT.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US TODAY.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

AN IMPORTANT TOPIC.

APPRECIATE IT.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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