There were school shootings before April 20, 1999, when two high school students opened fire at Columbine High School in Colorado, killing 13 people and wounding more than 20.
In 1927, the Bath School disaster in Michigan took place, when 38 elementary schoolchildren and six adults were killed by Andrew Kehoe, the 55-year-old school board treasurer.
The University of Texas tower shooting in 1966, which I wrote about in this blog, as one of the earliest events of pure horror I remember quite vividly. Yes, there was the JFK assassination in 1963, but that was one man killed, and another wounded. This saw 13 dead and 31 wounded before police killed Charles Whitman.
It wasn’t until Columbine that there were double digit fatalities again. It was followed by Virginia Tech April 16, 2007, with 32 killed, 17 wounded. At Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, December 2012, 26 plus the shooter ended up dead, including 20 young children, with two wounded. And that doesn’t count the many “lesser” horrors.
It’s the Parkland High School survivors who have mourned the 17 dead, and want to support the 17 physically wounded, and a far greater number wounded emotionally, who have changed the narrative from “thoughts and prayers.”
Today, on the 19th anniversary of Columbine, students will walk out of classrooms in an estimated 2600 schools across the United States to protest for gun reform. The organizers for the National School Walkout intend to call attention to the broken promise of “never again,” yet the mass shootings continue.
Students are encouraged to leave their classrooms and gather at 10 a.m. to hold a moment of silence for the victims of gun violence, setting aside 13 seconds to honor those killed at Columbine.
Unsurprisingly, I’ve read pieces suggesting that the students are partying under the guise of protest. I’ve even seen articles that equate the action with the unofficial cannabis holiday today, that the kids are just slackers that would rather get out of math than go to school.
It is the incorrect pairing. They’d rather go to class than get shot. Some action, notably in Florida, has taken place, but more needs to be done.