A Look Into an American Nightmare: Dave Cullen’s “Columbine”

I’ve been absent from here, but I’m finally ready to get back to what makes this blog what it is: BOOKS.

I’ve owned this book for a couple of years. I first started it a few months back, and finally got around to finishing it last night. What follows is my review.

So often after mass shootings we hear about “politicizing” the issue. There’s nothing political anout this book, just as there’s really nothing political about combatting gun violence. It would have been easy for this book to delve into the common topics that persist after every shooting, but it did no such thing.

Dave Cullen takes you into the minds and private lives of these two muderers. He chronicles in minute detail the days, weeks, and months leading up to April 20, 1999. He details how these two kids went from fantasizing about murder to committing a massacre. He takes you into the lives of several parties after the killing had finally stopped. Parents, students, educators, law enforcement. No life is the same after such an event, and he makes it crystal clear.

There’s a part near the end of the book in which he describes how “Columbine” had become the name of a mass shooting rather than a high school, but over the years seems to have reverted back to just the name of a high school in Colorado. I’m not sure if a community can ever really love on from something like this, but based on the book this one seems to constantly try.

An phenomenal story about an unspeakable act.

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The Diary of an Average Nobody: Day 46

See the change in title?

But today is nothing to celebrate.

There was another mass shooting in the US yesterday. Unfortunately, it’ll likely be added to the constantly growing list of mass shootings that have all been preventable but still allowed to happen.

When you hear lawmakers say that the US is the only country in the world in which these shootings constantly happen, it’s true. When you hear lawmakers say that the US has a gun violence problem no other country in the world faces, it’s true. After every shooting lawmakers will send their “thoughts and prayers” to the families affected and after every shooting lawmakers will do nothing to prevent the next mass shooting. After every shooting you’ll hear people say that the most recent shooting shouldn’t be politicized.

What’s political about wanting to save innocent lives? Tell me. If you can answer that question, I’m all ears. But you can’t and neither can anyone else. In this country we simply accept that gun violence is the normal we live in. But I say screw that logic and anyone who buys into it.

Think about this: What comes to mind when I say Aurora or Sandy Hook or Virginia Tech or San Bernardino or Orlando or Las Vegas? In this context you know these are all sites of mass shootings. And this is far from an exhaustive list.

The very simple truth is that Americans are obsessed with guns. Not for hunting or for home protection or for any reason besides the need to own them.

Anyone who really knows me has probably heard me say I think cigarettes and alcohol should both be illegal. As “crazy” as it sounds, I stand behind that. Because we have outlawed other drugs that negatively affect people who use them. And guns are no different. They should be illegal for civilians to own. And what happens when I say that? People will just make excuse after excuse about why that’ll never happen. My message to them is simple: You’re right. Civilians will likely never be outlawed from owning guns in this country, but the next mass shooting WILL happen. And more will follow because nothing is being done.

The problem is that people only look at mass shootings and say it isn’t a large enough problem to start making radical changes to gun laws. But gun violence kills tens of thousands of people a year in America, it is so much more than just mass shootings we’re talking about. The problem isn’t solely that guns will likely never be outlawed, but that nothing whatsoever is being done to stop the next shooting.