On April 20, 1999, in the moderately sized town of
Littleton, Colorado, at approximately 11:20 a.m., two young
men, Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, stormed into
Columbine High School. No more than twenty minutes later, 15 people were dead, including the two of them, and another
twenty-three wounded (Gibbs 28-29). Knowing that the duo are teenagers, and probably played many violent video games and
watched hundreds of violent shows, people immediately began to blame the media, and the violence that these young men had
been exposed to by it. But is it the media that is to blame for all these deaths? Is it violent movies, television shows, music, and video games that made these two, and other killers like them, do what they did? In this paper I plan to discuss the happenings at Columbine and the recent similar assaults
that have occurred on schools, but more specifically I plan to concluded what caused these kids to do what they did, with a focus on media violence as the primary reason. As I begin
this paper I don't personally believe that media violence is to blame for all these shootings, I may not know why the kids did what they did, but I can't see them killing classmates
because of a movie they saw, a song they listened to, a show they watched, or a video game they played. Through this paper I plan to either further my belief of this, or possibly prove otherwise and change my views.
The recent explosion in media coverage of Columbine made
it seem like it was a random event, which we've never seen the likes of before, but many crimes like this have happened
before. Since February of 1996, there has been six other
"high profile" school violence cases like Columbine. The
first of these was committed by Barry Loukaitis, 14, on Feb. 2, 1996. Loukaitis killed three people, and injured one
other, with a rifle that he got from home. On Oct. 1, 1997
Luke Woodham, 16, killed two people and his mother, and
wounded another 7, also with a rifle that he got from home. Two months later, on Dec. 1, 1997, Michael Carneal, 14, killed 3 students, and wounded 5 others with a pistol that he stole from his neighbor. Mitchell Johnson, 13, and Andrew Golden, 11, killed 5 people, and wounded another 10 on Mar. 24, 1998, with 3 rifles and 7 handguns that they got from their
relatives. On May 21, 1998, Kipland Kinkel, 15, killed 2
students, and wounded 20 others with 2 pistols and a
semiautomatic rifle that he owned. The most famous of the
list, Columbine, was committed by Harris, and Klebold, who
killed 13, and injured another 23, with a handgun, a rifle,
two shotguns, and numerous homemade bombs. The latest of
these school shootings occurred exactly one month after
Columbine, on May 20, 1999, when Thomas Solomon, 15, wounded 6 students with a rifle that he got from home. All of the
shooters are now in some form of a jail, whether it be prison, or a detention center, with, of course, the exception of
Klebold and Harris, who committed suicide. The rest are
serving a total of seven life sentences, with three in
juvenile detention centers, and a fourth is still awaiting
trial (Cloud 36-37).
Although many people think that this sort of thing only
happens in large, high capacity schools like Columbine, with an attendance of almost 2,000, the largest of the group by
more than 500, it doesn't. The school that Golden and Johnson attacked was a school of just 250 students. The real reasons for all of these shootings is unknown, but family problems is probably not a major factor in all cases except for Loukaitis, whose suicidal mother was about to divorce his father, and
Woodham, whose father left the family when he was 11. All the others had two-parent families with no serious problems.
Another possible cause would be the immediate situation that the person, or persons, were in. Of the seven most recent
instances those possible motives range from being teased, and publicly...
Cited: 1. Cloud, John. "Just a Routine School Shooting." Time
Magazine. May 31, 1999: 34 - 38.
2. Roche, Timothy and Gibbs, Nancy. "The Columbine
Tapes." Time Magazine. December 20, 1999: 40 - 51.
3. Gibbs, Nancy. "Special Report: The Littleton
Massacre." Time Magazine. May 3, 1999: 20 - 36.
4. Quittner, Joshua. "Are Video Games Really So Bad?."
Time Magazine. May 10, 1999: 50 - 59.
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