I always think it is interesting when I see Columbine. April 20, 1999 is the first thing on anyone’s mind when a school shooting happens.
Yes, 13 people were killed and 20+ injured there in 1999, and that is horrible just like every school shooting is horrible.
What people completely forget is that 4 students and 1 teacher were killed and 10 others were injured in a school shooting in Jonesboro, Arkansas on March 24, 1998…only a year before Columbine.
Notice that in this video it says, “This is the third fatal shooting rampage in an American public school in the last five months” (2:30).
Keep in mind, Columbine wouldn’t happen for another year.
Pearl, Mississippi (October 1, 1997 |Pearl High School | Shooter: 17 years old | 2 dead, 7 injured) and West Peducah, Kentucky (December 1, 1997 | Heath High School | Shooter: 14 years old | 3 dead, 5 injured) happened in fall/winter of 1997.
A few months later, two boys (ages 13 and 11), asked to leave class at Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Arkansas. They pulled an alarm that made students and teachers leave the school. As people walked out, they were waiting in the nearby tree line and opened fire on everyone.
I was 13.
I was the same age as a shooter.
I was the same age as the people who were targeted
and this time I was only 50 miles away.
Soon after, students took this shooting (and the others) as an example and started calling in bomb threats on my school and other schools.
During one threat, within a few months of Jonesboro, our teachers had us all stand in the middle of a ball field while the buildings were checked…a ball field against a tree line.
We all panicked.
By the time Columbine happened, school shootings were already a very real thing to me.
Fast forward to April 16, 2010. I fell asleep in my on-campus apartment living room in Jonesboro, Arkansas. By this time, it was my first semester of grad school, and I fell asleep on my couch while studying.
In the middle of the night, I woke up to a gun shot, but I didn’t know what it was until the next morning when two cops knocked on my door and pointed out that my neighbor (in the apartment right across the wall from me) had been shot.
He later died.
Security was increased, and I felt safe on campus. I loved my school and still do. I would walk back on campus today, but my point is…
It didn’t even start with these.
Yet, I hear people say, “Back in my day, this didn’t happen.”
It did happen! There has been an increase, but it did happen! The first recorded school shooting in our country happened in the 1700s!
The real questions are why are we still arguing about this, #WhyAreWeNotProtectingOurCampuses and why are we not figuring out how to do something about it/prevent it by now?