Remembering the Columbine High School massacre

The+Columbine+High+School+memorial+was+constructed+to+honor+those+that+lost+their+lives+during+the+shooting.+

Columbine High School Memorial / Hawkeye 43 / Flickr / CC-BY-2.0

The Columbine High School memorial was constructed to honor those that lost their lives during the shooting.

At 11:19 a.m. on April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, dressed in trench coats, began shooting students outside Columbine High School, and by 12:08 p.m., both gunmen had killed themselves and 13 others. 

“The Columbine shooting was terrible. Even though I wasn’t alive when it happened, I can tell that the incident had multiple aftershocks, which would be felt by many even if they weren’t around during the shooting. It has been 21 years, but the effects of the shooting show today,” said Teasha Zhou, a sophomore at Carlmont High School. 

Though 13 people died, many more lives could have been lost. According to their journals and videotapes, it is believed that the pair intended to detonate their propane bombs in the cafeteria, killing hundreds of students. After this, they would shoot survivors fleeing from the cafeteria. Eventually, bombs set in their cars in the parking lot would also detonate, killing any remaining students as well as any police vehicles, ambulances, fire trucks, or reporters who had come to the school. However, this failed to occur since the bombs in the cafeteria and cars failed to detonate. 

Columbine shooting by Erwan Pal

“We have to understand that this could have been a lot worse. We are lucky that the bombs did not detonate; otherwise, countless lives would have been lost. I think that this shows that we need to have laws that limit the use of bombs and guns,” Zhou said. 

At the time, the Columbine shooting was the worst high school shooting in U.S. history, and it prompted a national debate on school safety and gun control. Fourteen states have passed “red-flag laws” — which allow the temporary removal of firearms from a person who has deemed dangerous to themselves or others — while other states are going the opposite way and expanding or strengthening concealed carry laws, according to The Denver Post

“There’s an interesting debate around gun control. Of course, the second amendment allows us to bear arms and keep guns in our possession, but we need to set some restrictions, in my opinion. If we don’t have any restrictions, these shootings could keep happening and would eventually get worse. There’s a fine line of being able to own guns and the ability to have enough laws to keep those around us safe but still being able to use them. That is the line that we cannot find right now,” Nicholas Voong said. 

In 2007, the NICS Improvement Amendments Act was designed to fortify elements of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which came in wake after the Virginia Tech shooting, a shooting that occurred eight years after Columbine and to date is the worst school shooting in the nation’s history.

Eleven school shootings that were considered mass shootings occurred after Columbine in which three of these shootings — Sandy Hook, Parkland, and Virginia Tech — were deadlier than Columbine. The massacre at Virginia Tech in 2007 is the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, according to ABC News.

“I think the Virginia Tech shooting showed that the reforms that were put into place after the Columbine shooting didn’t make a difference. If the reforms made a difference, we wouldn’t have had a shooting that is, to this day, the worst shooting in U.S. history. I think that we need to make a law that is extremely strict on gun control because if we don’t, there will be more deadly shootings that would occur,” said Atharva Abhyankar, a freshman at Carlmont High School.

With the recent coronavirus pandemic, the coverage of the Columbine shooting has been limited. 

“I have been watching the news, but I didn’t see much referring to the shooting. I understand that the coronavirus pandemic is a huge deal, but I think they could have had some time dedicated to the lives lost during the shooting,” Voong said. 

To honor those that lost their lives in the shooting, a memorial was constructed in Clement Park, which is behind Columbine High School. The Ring of Remembrance is where each of the victim’s families was asked to provide a unique reflection in a text that would honor their loved one. These quotes were engraved in stone and stand as a tribute to the victims at Columbine High School.

The Wall of Healing was designed to honor those that were injured in the shooting; it also provides an opportunity for the public to remember and reflect on their own personal experience. The wall consists of quotes from students, parents, and first responders. Read more about it at the Columbine Memorial website

“It’s extremely nice that they made a memorial for those that lost loved ones due to the shooting. It’s very thoughtful, but the sad reality is that there could be more shootings, and more memorials would have to be made. Unless we create laws that limit the use of guns but still allow us to fulfill our Second Amendment, school shootings will be a reality that will lead to many more deaths and the loss of many loved ones,” Abhyankar said.