The Columbine High School Tragedy
in Littleton Colorado
Today is April 20, 1999. The news on the radio and television is focused almost entirely upon the tragedy at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. The questions on everyone's minds seem to be:
1. Why did this happen?
2. Where did the tools these perpetrators used come from?
3. Why didn't anyone see what they were up to?
4. How can we prevent this from happening again?
I don't claim to have all the answers to any of these questions, but I have watched things happening in this country for a long time, and I have observed trends that I find very unsettling. Some of the answers may lie in what I have observed and my reactions to the things I have experienced.
Years ago, when I was a high school student, this kind of violence was unthinkable. We placed a high value on human life, we had moral standards, there was discipline in the schools, and we were more concerned with what we had to do than what we had a right to do. There were few gangs in Houston then, and belonging to one was really uncool. If someone really got us angry, we might get into a fight with him, but we wouldn't kill him.
I don't believe in forcing one's religious beliefs on another person. Nor do I believe in cruel punishment, but there comes a time when we realize that somewhere along the way, we have lost our moral compass, and the idea that people are responsible for their actions. This must change.
There must be a national sense of morals and of the value of human life.
There must be a way of keeping the disruptive student from destroying the safe educational atmosphere of schools.
If this means a return to corporal punishment and the stationing of armed security guards around schoolyards. let it be done.
We cannot permit our children to be killed by people who do not value their own lives, much less the lives of others.
The "Trench Coat Mafia" was apparently unknown to the police and sheriff's departments of Littleton. Yet the students of Columbine High School knew them, and knew that they were "strange." One student said that the boys made a video of all the guns they had and showed it at school, yet nobody reported this to the police. Why? This is a violation of Federal law.
Where did the materials for the pipe bombs come from? They are available at almost any high school chemistry lab, if you know what they are.
There will certainly be a backlash from the anti-gun forces. They will say that it is the all-pervasive presence of guns that made this happen. They are wrong.
When I was the age of these children, I could go into a hardware store and buy a gun without any difficulty, completely legally. It is far more difficult to buy a gun legally now. With the laws in place governing the access of minors to guns, they should be far more difficult for children to obtain in any case.
Obviously, the people who write the laws forget that laws are useless unless they are enforced, and that children who are unsupervised and untrained, who have lots of time on their hands, will eventually find a way to circumvent almost any safeguard that a parent can put on a gun.
So what are the answers?
1. We have a generation of people who, by and large, have no regard for human life.
We must combat this with a return to the teaching of morals--especially moral absolutes--in the classroom. A society with no morals cannot and will not survive. And it probably doesn't deserve to, anyway. By the way, this does not necessarily mean religion. It is possible to teach morals without teaching religion.
2. We must make sure that children who show antisocial tendencies are observed closely. Those that disrupt the classroom must be punished swiftly and without malice, so they know that the schools mean business.
3. We must keep guns and knives off campus. If this means armed security guards and metal detectors on campus--so be it. The Constitution of the United States places life before liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
4. We must teach children proper respect for all weapons--guns, knives, bombs, etc. They must realize that when someone is killed, he will not be getting up again. Life is not virtual reality.
5. We must teach children the art of conflict resolution.
6. We must teach children respect for themselves and respect for others.
If we can do these things, we may be able to stop this madness.
For a proposed code of conduct, based on current secular law, click here
© 1999 Bill Palmer. To reproduce this page contact Bill Palmer.