Tuesday, April 27, 1999

Placing blame for massacre in Colorado




BY LAURA PULFER
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        This is not scientific, I will admit. But I think this information is reliable. Based on e-mail, telephone calls and faxes, I will have to reluctantly conclude that people like guns a lot more than they like me.

        Possibly this is because they know guns more intimately.

        One woman, who identifies herself as a Christian, a grandmother and a National Rife Association (NRA) member, explains that it is “liberal people like yourself who are to blame for what is happening to our country and its morals.” She says she sleeps with her gun and prays that I meet up with a rapist and am unarmed.

        Prays? She is including this in her prayers? Somebody really should tell her that God probably is not charmed by petitions of this nature.

Inefficient weapons
        Anyway, I didn't answer her because I just didn't know what to say. Nor did I know how to respond to the man who wanted to know whether I was “born an idiot or did you have to work at it?” Several correspondents accused me of being too emotional.

        “The problem isn't guns. It's parents who are too busy trying to get another BMW,” Marti writes.

        Readers were responding to a column I wrote just after the Columbine High School massacre. At that point, little was known about the killers and what was behind their bloody spree. But we knew that, like every other schoolyard rampage in recent memory, guns were the most lethal component.

        Authorities say Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold also built more than 30 bombs. Most of them fizzled. The big bomb, a propane tank set up with an egg timer, blessedly did not go off. Of course, the bombs were handmade by amateurs. The guns, made by experts, worked just as advertised.

        The Associated Press lists 23 students who were hospitalized following Tuesday's attack. One boy was treated for injuries from a 15-foot fall and released. Two others were reported as treated and released without identifying their injuries. The rest of them suffered from gunshot wounds.

        The boy we saw dangling from a window and then falling into the hands of two SWAT team members is alive, but doctors say he might not regain full use of his right side. He was shot in the head. Another boy, still hospitalized, cried when his father told him the names of his classmates who were killed. Tears ran down his cheeks unchecked.

        He could not lift his hands to wipe them away because a burst of semiautomatic gunfire shattered two vertebrae between his shoulder blades.

        Emotional? You bet.

Complicated causes
        “Shoot-to-kill video games?” I wrote. “Violence on television? The Internet? Insanity? Evil? We don't know why these boys did what they did. But we know what they used to do it.”

        And even though I may have been born an idiot, I do know that what happened is more complicated than just a new gun law or seven.

        Michael wrote to say he's “glad to hear more people talking about how to help troubled boys than gun control.”

        Tom from Mariemont, another NRA member, writes that he owns several firearms, “which are securely locked away with trigger locks on them. Too many people on both sides of the political spectrum fail to realize with every right comes an equally valid responsibility.”

        Hundreds of you weighed in with thoughtful and intelligent — and anguished — discourse. I'm grateful. One of my conceits — one of many, some might say — is that I try to answer all letters and e-mails that come my way, at least thanking readers for taking the time to write.

        But sometimes I am stumped for a polite reply to someone who, say, would pray that I be accosted by a rapist. And sometimes, I am silenced by somebody's sheer brilliance and unassailable logic.

        So if you haven't heard from me yet, you are one or the other.

        E-mail Laura Pulfer at lpulfer@en quirer.com. Author of I Beg to Differ, she can be heard Mondays on WVXU radio, and on NPR's Morning Edition and InterMedia's Northern Kentucky Magazine.

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Latest updates on Columbine shootings from Associated Press



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