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25 years since Columbine: the massacre that brought the debate about firearms to the forefront in the United States

25 years since Columbine: the massacre that brought the debate about firearms to the forefront in the United States

This Saturday marks the 25th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre, the event that finally demonstrated to the American people the need for a national debate about firearm ownership in a country where it is According to data collected and reviewed by the NGO Firearm Violence Archive, there have been nearly 400 additional school shootings and a total of 655 mass shootings in the last decade alone.

Of all of them, the Columbine massacre is the event most remembered by the nearly 10,000 readers who took part in an online survey published this week by The Denver Post. For 35 percent of respondents, what happened on April 20, 1999, at this high school in the town of Littleton, Colorado, was “by definition” a shooting with 37 victims (13 dead and 24 injured). , the catalyst for a series of efforts of unprecedented intensity, but few of which were fruitful, to restrict popular access to firearms.

The American public at that moment witnessed a series of images that would be reproduced in later tragedies, mostly through the inaudible and monochrome filter of surveillance cameras: armed young people walking the halls, classmates and teachers barricaded in classrooms, or The schools fled through the windows, and special police units were preparing to march into the center. Columbine was the first school shooting of the digital age and the subject of countless studies on its connection to new media and youth culture, as well as the physical and psychological violence associated with student power relations in the late 20th century.

According to an investigation published in 2015 by Mother Jones magazine, the massacre “inspired” no fewer than 74 similar incidents. In 13 of these cases, the attackers declared their intention to “exceed” the number of victims of the Littleton tragedy. In at least ten cases, the suspects referred to the massacre’s perpetrators, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, as “heroes, idols, martyrs” – both committed suicide at the end of their attack – or outright as “gods”. “

A quarter century later, the association, led by former Democratic congresswoman and gun control activist Gabby Giffords, survivor of a 2011 assassination attempt in which she was shot point-blank in the head, is raising awareness of the current conflict that represents a country that is there Popular support for tightening restrictions on firearm ownership is greater than ever, while the violence they spark remains at an all-time high: In 2018, a student was more likely to die in a shooting at his or her center Life could come, in the last quarter at the highest of a century.

A Harvard University study published in 2019 showed that every mass shooting in the United States was followed by an increase in legislative proposals, particularly at the state level, to restrict access to guns; Projects that, according to the text, were rarely implemented into solid laws. The President of the United States, Joe Biden, himself lamented two years ago after the massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde (21 dead, 18 injured) in Texas, the lack of progress in this regard, despite the tragedies that followed that of Littleton High School.

Biden explicitly mentioned the cases at the Sandy Hook school in 2012 (28 dead, around twenty of them children between the ages of seven and eight), the Pulse nightclub in Orlando (Florida), which caused 49 deaths and 58 injuries in 2016, or The The 2017 Las Vegas incident was the bloodiest ever committed by a single person on American soil: 61 dead and more than 860 injured, half from shrapnel and half from the mass panic caused by the shooting of concertgoers . “We haven’t accomplished anything,” complained the president.

Giffords attended this Friday’s memorial services in Littleton; a vigil organized by several local gun control organizations such as Colorado Ceasefire. One of that group’s board members, Tom Mauser, father of a student killed at Columbine, successfully led a campaign that required background checks for all gun buyers at gun shows, closing a loophole that a friend of the Columbine attackers had helped three of the four with Firearms used in the shooting.

Nathan Hochhalter, whose sister Anne Marie was paralyzed by the Columbine shooting, also took part. A few months after the shooting, his mother, Carla Hochhalter, took her own life.

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