Nobody could have fathomed it; it didn’t seem real. Sixteen years later, the nation still tries to make sense of the senseless tragedy that occurred at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.

 

On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold — only 18 and 17 years old, respectively — walked into school wielding an arsenal of firearms, and committed one of the worst school shootings in American history. By the end of their rampage, 15 people lay dead, themselves included, with over 20 more injured.

 

Tragedies such as Columbine have become all too commonspurring national debate over The Second Amendment:

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

 

Many see The Second Amendment as fundamental and necessary to the American way of life, while others see it as a dated notion; the necessity made irrelevant through the creation of municipal police departments and the National Guard.

 

School photos of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold

Eric Harris (left) and Dylan Klebold (right) before they committed the Columbine massacre (press.emerson.edu)

As the debate rages between both sides, some have attempted to bridge the gap. 18-year-old engineer Kai Kloepfer has developed a gun that can only fire when it reads the fingerprints of a registered user. He hopes this technology could prevent a number shooting deaths involving stolen firearms and children. This new type of smart gun does not solve all issues of gun violence, but it represents a step towards allowing Second Amendment advocates to keep their firearms, while ensuring they do not fall into the wrong hands.

 

Beyond the issues of gun control, the events of Columbine also highlight another serious social issue: bullying in American schools. Ever since that tragic day, it has become generally understood that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were victims of constant harassment by a handful of their peers, with the massacre meant as an act of revenge.

 

This incessant bullying — both online and offline — has dangerous, unnerving consequences. All too often these victimized teens take their own lives, sometimes taking others with them in the process. Sadly, like so many other domestic issues, these concerns often get swept under the rug and ignored.

 

After 16 years, it remains just as apparent that we need to take serious actions to not only raise our children in a way that prevents bullying but also helps victims of such abuse cope in a healthy manner.

 

This problem defies geography and socioeconomic barriers; it can happen anywhere.

 

What steps should we take to prevent a tragedy like Columbine from ever happening again? What are your thoughts on gun control in America? Comment below or tweet @connerws to give us your take.