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Kip Kinkel - The Columbine Massacre

school violence weapons students

Eleven months after the Thurston tragedy, the scene was repeated in Littleton, Colorado. In April 1999 Columbine High School seniors Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold brought an arsenal of weapons into school and opened fire. The boys arrived at their school, located in an affluent Denver suburb, wearing trench coats and carrying automatic weapons. They wounded twenty-six students and killed thirteen others. Working their way through the school, they killed one teacher before finally turning the guns on themselves when it became apparent they would not escape. Both Harris and Klebold came from apparently normal and loving families.

The Columbine assault was widely publicized and refocused attention on the issue of school violence in America. The tragedy started a wave of so-called "copycat" violence in schools, where people mimic crimes committed by others. Early in the twentieth century, school discipline problems generally involved running in the hall and other unruly behavior. By the end of the century, school problems included weapons possession, gang activity, and violent assaults against students and teachers alike.

Sensational media coverage of suburban school killings was seen as increasing public awareness, but also encouraging the copycat phenomenon. The media filled therole of turning mass murderers into pop celebrities.

The Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act (Brady Law) was signed into law on November 30, 1993, in an effort to regulate increasingly powerful firearms. The Brady Law made it illegal for anyone under age twenty-one to purchase handguns from licensed dealers. The shooters at Columbine bypassed this problem by shopping at gun shows. Others, like Kip Kinkel, acquired guns by stealing them from their own homes or from the homes of others. The easy availability of weapons is of ongoing concern in the debate regarding school violence.

The identification of potentially violent and threatening students has become a priority in an attempt to reduce the incidents of school violence in the United States. A variety of areas have been singled out for study, including violence in popular music, television, and computer games. It was noted that kids playing point-and-shoot video games were getting the same training, and at a much younger age, as army recruits and police officers in America.

Exposure to violence is often made more severe by the availability of drugs, alcohol, and guns in schools. As the incidence of depression and suicide has increased among modern young people, so has the number of parents turning to mood altering drugs as an aid in parenting. The role of prescription drugs in the number of school shooters is a current topic for professionals in several fields searching for answers.

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