Twenty years ago, Harris and Klebold exchanged fire with the police before turning the guns on themselves. Harris died instantly, while Klebold suffocated on his own blood.
Perhaps that could have been the end of it– right there, on the library floor, that unspeakable tragedy could have been the end. Or it might have been the beginning– the beginning of a movement to actually keep our children safe from gun violence.
Instead, it was the beginning of two decades of horror.
There have been over 230 school shootings in America in the past 20 years– and that’s just counting elementary and high schools, not the colleges. At least 1025 people are dead. It’s been estimated that over 220,000 students have been victims– either killed, injured or traumatized by experiencing a school shooting. And that’s not counting what happens to their families.
It happened again just last week. A young man named Kendrick Castillo was shot to death while fighting a gunman at school, to try to stop a massacre. Kendrick was eighteen– he never knew a world before Columbine. He’s being hailed as a hero.
Teenagers aren’t supposed to be heroes, not in this way.I keep seeing that interview, with an eleven-year-old boy who picked up a bat while he was hiding in a locked classroom, as gunshots rang outside. Columbine was very old news by the time he was born.
“I was going to go down fighting,” he said.
Children aren’t supposed to go down fighting.
This isn’t supposed to happen, and it doesn’t have to happen. It doesn’t happen in any other developed country, just here.
And what are we to do? We, mothers of children who want them to be safe? Yes, I homeschool Rose right now, but I don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep that up. It’s not an option in the first place for many people, for many reasons. It’s not a solution.
We drew our school year to a close this week; Rosie is free to play all day until her summer day camp starts in a month. She stayed home yesterday, playing with her toys, and I went downtown to run errands. On the way, I met another woman who knew us from the bus.
“Where’s your little girl?” she asked.
“She’s with her father, celebrating the year being over– we homeschool,” I said.
The woman nodded gravely. “That’s really smart.”
And then we were both bantering about shootings.
Twenty years after Columbine, Appalachia has noticed that schools are dangerous.
But what difference will it make?
(image via Pixabay)