Today marks twelve years since two students walked through Colorado's Columbine High School, gunning down students and teachers before turning their weapons on themselves. Altogether, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 students and one teacher, injuring another 21 students. It's also just a few days past the April 16 anniversary of the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, in which Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 32 people before killing himself.
With such notable anniversaries upon us (not to mention yesterday's rather different incident in which a six-year-old brought a gun to school that accidentally went off and injured three people), the push to allow guns on college and even high school campuses is gaining ground in some parts of the country. On the other side of the coin, anti-bullying laws seek to prevent future Columbine-type incidents.
Just yesterday Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a bill allowing firearms on college campuses, not because she's necessarily against the concept but because "the bill was just poorly, sloppily written," she told Fox News. She said in a statement that she supported "thoughtful expansion of where firearms should be allowed." A similar bill in Texas has made progress (but hasn't been able to pass), and one winding its way through the Tennessee legislature would allow professors to carry weapons. The Arlington, Texas school board even considered allowing public school teachers to carry weapons, as they do in rural Harrold, Texas.
Many lawmakers have tried to attack the problem of campus violence by deterring the bullying that reportedly preceded the Columbine event. According to the site BullyPolice.org, 45 states have some kind of bullying legislation, with the exceptions of Hawaii, Michigan, Montana, and North and South Dakota.There are also plenty of local laws and school district regulations to fight bullying. New Hampshire has considered stripping its legislation of online and off-campus protections, to massive public outcry.
But as Boston Globe writer James Alan Fox points out in a blog post today, "a determined assailant wielding a deadly weapon is difficult to deter." If a student really wants to, he or she can still acquire a gun and recreate a Columbine or Virginia Tech, regardless of what gets said in a state capitol or city hall.