The recent shooting at the STEM Highlands Ranch School in CO. is just a few miles away from Columbine. And it left me with a lot of questions and a friend suggested I watch Michael Moore's, Academy Award-winning documentary, "Bowling For Columbine." I never watched it and my friend suggested it might give me some answers and explain the United States history of gun violence. What surprised me more than anything else was the film was produced in 2002. It scared me to think this film has the element of history, yet nothing has changed.
There is an increasing number of shootings since Columbine. There is no correlation between any of these shootings. Unlike the attack by Harris and Klebold, the most violent attacks came from a single assailant with more powerful weapons and in most cases a lot more ammunition. In some instances, it was a student from the school, but not in all these violent cases.
First, let's review the reasons Moore presented as to why Columbine happened:
• History of violence in our government
• Violence in movies
• Music, specifically Marilyn Manson
• Violent video games
• The increasing number of guns in suburban America
However, the gun-related deaths from other countries such as Australia, Japan, Canada, and Germany are less than 3% of the United States 11,127 deaths in 2002. They all have histories of violence, watch violent movies, and listen to music comparable to Marilyn Manson. The number of gun owners in Canada is more than in America, yet they have very little gun violence. The people in Canada learn gun safety at a very early age because hunting is a big part of their lifestyle.
In an article from the New York Times, by Sarah Mervosh, "Nearly 40,000 People Died From Guns in the U.S. Last Year, Highest in 50 Years," dated December 18, 2018; she suggests that 2018 is the third consecutive year the number has increased.
In a separate article from www.bbc.com "America's Gun Control in 10 Charts," it defines a mass shooting as an attacker has killed more than three or more victims in an indiscriminate rampage. There have been 90 mass shootings with three or more victims in the United States since 1982.
In the chart showing the increase in deaths for mass shooting since Columbine, 13 victims were lost there in 1999, but the number of victims doubles to 27 at Sandy Hook in 2012, 49 at Pulse in Orlando, FL, in 2016, to 58 victims in 2017 in Las Vegas, NV.
The types of guns used in each rampage are staggering. Harris and Klebold used Savage-Springfield 67H pump-action shotgun, 12 gauge; Hi-Point 995 Carbine, 9 mm caliber; pipe bomb; Intratec TEC-9 semi-automatic handgun, 9 mm caliber; and Stevens 311D double-barreled sawed-off shotgun, 12 gauge sawed offshoot guns, as well as several knives and pipe bombs. According to an article in the Washington Post, semiautomatic rifles have been used in some of the deadliest shootings, mainly Newtown, Orlando, San Bernardino, and Las Vegas.
The AR-15 is a customized version of the military's M16 and has been the highest-ranking rifle purchased since the 2004 ban on assault weapons expired. Fitted with a "bump-fire stock," this weapon allows it to fire as quickly as an automatic assault rifle. The gunman that killed 32 students at Virginia Tech in 2007 used a 9mm semiautomatic Glock 19 and a .22-caliber Walther P22. The 9mm semiautomatic handgun is a common weapon in many of the mass shooting.
Most of the mass shooters did not show signs of violent tendencies or have a criminal past. Most are male between the ages of 20 and 49. In the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Nicolas Cruz used a single AR-15 with multiple magazines. He wore a gas mask and had smoke grenades.
Even as the 20th anniversary of Columbine came the questions Michael Moore asked are still unanswered. Kmart did stop selling handguns, mostly because they went out of business. Wal-Mart has a thriving gun and ammunition business and so do a few of the sports stores. Every Sunday morning when I open my paper the advertisements for stores like Target, Kohls, and Publix are always there, but lately, a new flier has appeared from Academy Sports and they have a full page in their flier for guns, mainly handguns as well as the ammunition.
The problem is which side is right? If you are a responsible gun owner and keep your weapons locked in a secure place then you have a right to keep them. If we can't stop people from purchasing firearms, maybe the solution is limiting the amount of ammunition someone can purchase. If we have a database for guns, let's just add the amount of ammunition someone has purchased as well. I know it isn't the perfect solution, but it is better than trying to pry the gun from Charlton Heston's "cold dead hands."
At the end of the movie, Moore interviewed three teens from Canada and asked them what they thought of gun violence in American. One of the teens interviewed said, "If more guns make you safer, America should be the safest place in the world, but it isn't."