This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

The Motivation Behind The Columbine High Shootings

3689 words - 15 pages

The Motivation Behind the Columbine High Shootings

Every major spectacle carries with it the potential of a new way of looking at the past and implications of a future. Usually within a brief period after the event, a consensual "explanation" is fashioned through the news media and by the political pundits who occupy much of the space and time dedicated by the media to the event. Political pundits seated in front of the camera become part of the event, often becoming a part of the process of transforming an event in time to a spectacle.
In this case, the event was the murder of 13 and wounding of 23 persons at the Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. The event took place on April 22, 1999 and, because of the subsequent suicide of the two teenage perpetrators, observers could only speculate on their motivation. While students were still hiding from the gunmen and while the police were still plotting their strategy, the media coverage began. Perhaps two impulses led to the coverage. First of all, the victims were not the children of the Hutus or East Timorese or even the Kosovos. These were "our" children and the parents our "friends." Their grief could have been ours. In fact, in a month plus a few days, five million dollars were donated to the survivors and the victim families even without there being a major fund-raising drive (Morning Edition, NPR, June 8, 1999).
Secondly, the event had the earmarks of a media spectacle, that is, by transmogrifying the event to something beyond itself, the news media knew they would again be able to maximize their profit margins on the grief and graves of others. Events are news stories; spectacles are dollars. The old tv newsroom characterization of "if it bleeds, it leads" has been replaced in their business office ófrom graves to the gravy train.
In its societal context, the Columbine school shootings are not an obvious part of a discernible sociological pattern. We know that approximately 4,500 youngsters are killed every year in intentional shootings, with thirty per cent of that number probable suicides. That's almost 13 a day, the same number as were killed in Littleton (The Washington Post, April 25, 1999). The data on school shootings, according to the Center for Communicable Diseases, indicate that only about 28 per cent actually occurred inside the school and that one-third of the victims were not students (The New York Times, May 9, 1999). We have known, for quite some time, that homicide is the second leading cause of teenage deaths. Just the same, counting all deaths among children and teens, only one per cent are homicides.
Perhaps our first lesson is that what went on at Columbine may have been horrible, but it was not unique. Almost immediately following this high school spectacle, an array of stories, many even more bizarre than the Columbine story surfaced. Here is a sampling:
Costa Mesa, CA, May 4--The Associated Press reported that a man who wanted to "execute" children...

Find Another Essay On The Motivation Behind the Columbine High Shootings

The Columbine Massacre Essay

2111 words - 8 pages During the past decade, America has witnessed a rise in mass murders carried out by youth leaving parents, teachers and school officials scrambling to figure out the motive behind such attacks. The 1999 massacre at Columbine High School was a watershed moment in American history that offered, besides grief and sorrow for lost loved ones, clues as to how to prevent copycat massacres at school campuses in the future. Theories abound in the hopes

The Columbine Massacre Essay

1726 words - 7 pages On April 20, 1999 in Littleton, Colorado, two underage teenage boys came into Columbine High School, a gun-free zone, with lethal weapons. Gun-Free zones are areas where the use or the possession of firearms is considered a crime (Gun Free Zone Law & Legal Definition 2014). One might believe keeping the schools as gun-free zones would be safer for the students and faculty, but it does not. Why would any educational institution believe this

Violent Video Games did Not Cause the Columbine High School Shooting

1689 words - 7 pages “I feel like getting a baseball bat, breaking it over his head, and then STABBING him with the broken end!!!!” vents Eric Harris about his local weatherman on his web page (Anton 5). Harris, being one of the killers in the Columbine High School shooting, was called a “die-hard gamer who loved the interactive bloodbath called DOOM” (Anton 2). Doom was thought to be one of the factors in Eric Harris’ violent tragedy. The question is: did

The Horrors of School Shootings

1569 words - 7 pages in the United States. Within the first fourteen school days of 2014, there were seven school shootings. Those school shootings were: Liberty Technology Magnet School, on January 9th and there was one student shot, Berrendo Middle School on January 14th and there were two students shot, Albany High School, on January 17th and there was one student shot, Delaware Valley Charter Elementary on January 17th and there was two students shot, Widener

Motivation Behind the Unification of Germany in 1871

1120 words - 4 pages As with the motivations behind the unification of most modern nations, the unification of Germany in 1871 can be attributed to many varied causes, of which the following three must be said to be among the most important. The populist forces of nationalism and liberalism, the military conquests of Prussia and its territories and lastly the economic, commercial and industrial benefits that it brought to the entire country. The ideas of

Mass Shootings: The Rise of an Epidemic

2478 words - 10 pages "I'm angry someone would do this to us. There are lives ruined, families ruined, and our whole school year is ruined" (Brackely 1). Casey Brackely, once a student that attended Columbine High School, remembers the tragedy of the horrific Columbine shooting that killed and injured many students. Mass shootings in the United States have been on the rise since the 1980’s, especially in the last decade. These shooters motives and profiles are

Mass Shootings and the Second Amendment

779 words - 4 pages In the 20th and 21st centuries there have been several tragic events of people who without cause go to a public area and unleash their weapon on an innocent crowd. Mass shootings have become a horrible plague which affects more and more innocent Americans. From the devastation of the shooter at Virginia Tech in 2007, to the tragedy that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, or the series unfortunate events that unfolded at Columbine High

Mass School Shootings in the U.S

2411 words - 10 pages December 13, 2013 in Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colorado; where the shooter was carrying a shotgun, a machete, and three Molotov cocktails. A 18-year-old student Karl Halverson Pierson killed one 17-year-old schoolmate and afterwards committed suicide18. It was another unreasonable incident that could have been avoided if the gun ownership laws were stricter. It is not an exaggeration to admit that school shootings are a massive problem

My Philosophical Views on the Colorado Shootings

1324 words - 6 pages love. These “natural” and “man-made” events are sometimes, but not limited to, catastrophic floods, fires, hurricanes earthquakes, tsunamis, crashes, and explosions, and in the case of Matthew Murray, two shootings, that caused five people to die in Colorado, including himself. Although some of these tragic events are sometimes seen as lesser events when compared to others, or even to one another, I believe that every thought and opinion on those

The Parents' Role in School Shootings

1200 words - 5 pages Wishes” asking that no one be blamed, other than himself and Klebold, for the massacre (“As You Were”, par. 2). After the 1999 school shooting now simply known as Columbine, a “Newsweek” pole showed that, “about half of all Americans want to see the movie industry, the TV industry, computer game makers, Internet services and gun manufacturers and the NRA make major policy changes to help reduce teen violence” (Alter, par. 1). According to Dave

Through the Eyes Of Terror - A look behind the motivation of the Taliban and other Terrorists

1426 words - 6 pages Through the eyes of a terrorist:The motivations behind the horrorIt is very clear to everyone world wide that any terrorist actions, especially the most recent on September eleventh, are very wicked and evil. Everyone except the terrorists themselves, that is. So the question of what the terrorists underlying motivations are arises, and for good reason. The only person that can really answer that question is one who studies terrorism or is a

Similar Essays

The Columbine High School Massacre Essay

1358 words - 5 pages and more than twenty people died on gang fighting every time. People were haven bad role model and imitated the hero from violent movies. The Columbine High School massacre was a school shooting which occurred on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School in Columbine, an unincorporated area of Jefferson County in the State of Colorado. Two senior students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, murdered a total of 12 students and one teacher. They injured

The Shooting At Columbine High School In Littleton, Colorado

802 words - 4 pages The shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado killing thirteen students and teachers shocked the world. “They were video gamers who seemed to be acting out some dark digital fantasy. It was as if all that exposure to computerized violence gave them the idea to go on a rampage – or at least fueled their urges” (Carey 1). The shooters of this incident learned their deadly skills from video games. Seventy percent of children ages

Eric Harris Manifesto And The Columbine High School Shooting

3553 words - 15 pages in the year 2013. According to, in 12 of 15 school shooting cases in the 1990’s, the shooters like Bryan, Eric and Dylan retaliated against other students who they had been involved with in bullying incidents. They also retaliated for the perceived injustices related to discipline or academic assessments. In the aftermath of the Columbine High School shootings, legislators took the legal approach to mental health by addressing the

The Columbine School Tragedy Essay

1306 words - 6 pages policies, America has made an attempt to prevent future school shootings and other violent attacks. Heartache is still present after more than a decade, but people have coped and supported each other to make an overall stronger nation. Works Cited Greg, Toppo. “10 years later, the real story behind Columbine.” USA Today Search Premier. Web. 21 Feb. 2014. Hasday, Judy L. Columbine High School Shooting: Student Violence