Columbine High School Security Video Shows Klebold and Harris in Cafeteria

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Columbine High School Security Video Shows Klebold and Harris in Cafeteria

Video still

By: Anonymous

Date: December 13, 1999

Source: AP Images.

About the Author: This image was taken by a security video camera in the cafeteria of Columbine High School.

INTRODUCTION

On April 20, 1999, students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, entered Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, armed with propane and pipe bombs, semiautomatic weapons, and sawed-off shotguns. In just under an hour they shot and killed twelve students, one teacher and injured twenty-four other students. They then killed themselves inside the school.

The worst school shooting in United States history, the incident horrified America and the world, and triggered a series of copycat shootings at schools in the United States and Canada. Because Harris and Klebold had amassed such a formidable cache of weapons, ammunition, and explosives, the incident also spurred an intense debate about gun laws in America.

PRIMARY SOURCE

COLUMBINE HIGH SCHOOL SECURITY VIDEO SHOWS KLEBOLD AND HARRIS IN CAFETERIA

See primary source image.

SIGNIFICANCE

Experts point to several factors that influence school violence. These incidents are caused by deep and complex problems that affect contemporary American society.

A CNN survey conducted in August 1999 discovered that four out of five middle school students behave like bullies at least once in a month, indulging in name-calling, teasing, beating, and threatening other students. Bullies single out others who don't fit in and subject them to torment. If bullying is left uncontrolled, its victims often develop severe hostility and may even resort to serious acts of violence.

Often victims bear the brunt silently; over a period of time, however, they drift away into a world of emptiness and delusion. Such children often become extremely isolated and may resort to violence.

Bullying behavior is often reinforced by media, movies, television programs, and video games targeted at adolescents and teenagers that depict extensive violence. Easy access to guns is also a factor.

America is one of the few countries in the world where possessing a weapon is a fundamental right. Nearly 49 percent of American households own a firearm. Although federal and state laws prohibit juveniles from owning or possessing a weapon, in many instances they are able to get one.

Klebold and Harris were loners and outcasts who didn't fit into the culture at Columbine High. Other students picked on them for their different behavior. They were part of a group of students called the trench-coat mafia, a gang who wore black trench coats and were known for rebellious behavior.

Though juveniles at the time of the killings, Klebold and Harris still managed to acquire weapons illegally and assemble bombs from easily available materials. They also maintained a website (since taken down) about the violent computer games Doom and Wolfenstein 3D, and posted online diaries and blogs full of hateful comments about other students.

As of 2006, a ban on semiautomatic weapons (which was in place at the time of the Columbine High School massacre) has been lifted. A debate still rages on standards of public education, bullying, gun laws, and other cultural issues especially affecting teens and adolescents in the United States.

FURTHER RESOURCES

Web sites

BBC News. "Americans Split on Gun Ban's end" 〈http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3654012.stm〉 (accessed February 14, 2006).

BBC News. "Timeline: U.S. School Shootings" 〈http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4371403.stm〉 (accessed February 14, 2006).

CNN "Are U.S. Schools Safe?" 〈http://edition.cnn.com/SPECIALS/1998/schools〉 (accessed February 14, 2006).

Just Facts "Gun Control" 〈http://justfacts.com/gun_con-trol.htm〉 (accessed February 14, 2006).

Time.com "Guns and Violence" 〈http://www.time.com/time/daily/special/denvershooting〉 (accessed February 14, 2006).

World Socialist Website "School shooting in Canada: Wave of "Copycat" Threats in U.S. follow Columbine tragedy" 〈http://www.wsws.org/articles/1999/may1999/schm04.shtml〉 (accessed February 14, 2006).

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