Hoover High School

Op-Ed: 19 years after Columbine

In the year 1999, many of the students in high schools today were merely a thought. Our parents were too busy living their lives or dealing with our older siblings. And mass shootings at schools were the least of their worries.

Until Columbine.

On this fateful day 19 years ago, the country was shaken when they heard news of two teens who went on a shooting spree at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, killing 13 people and wounding more than 20. The country was baffled by an event which at the time was deemed a rarity.

But not for long.

The nightmare that was Columbine was seen as the worst of the worst and could not be topped. But as the years went on, the country forgot, and more and more mass shootings occurred.

In the almost 20 years that have passed, there have been deadlier types of Columbine-like shootings. At the time, it was the worst shooting in modern history with 13 deaths. Then came Orlando, San Bernardino, Sandy Hook, Las Vegas, and Parkland.

Three of the five most deadliest mass shootings have occurred in the past year, and no significant change in gun laws or security has followed.

The end was believed to be near when in 2012 Adam Lanza gunned down 20 children, between the ages of 6 and 7, and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The end was believed to be near when in 2016 Omar Matteen gunned down 49 people and injured 50 at a gay nightclub in Orlando.

The end was believed to be near when just this past year Stephen Paddock gunned down 58 people and injured more than 500 people at a Route 91 Harvest music festival on the Las Vegas Strip.

We thought wrong.

Since Columbine took place in 1999, little change has occurred. We are safer at schools since then, but are we really?

How many more Columbines must transpire before we realize Columbine was the start of the “deadly mass shooting era?”

Something simple as having expanded background checks or limiting the access of rifles to the public, will result in fewer massacres and safer schools.

We must be better for the sake of our children. The time is now for change. So let us be known as the generation that made schools safer, and not the other way around.