Colo. school shooting raises tough questions |

Colo. school shooting raises tough questions

Bang. It’s happened again, this time in Littleton, Colo. A suburban high school became a scene of bloody carnage when two teens allegedly armed with pistols, shotguns and pipebombs swept through the campus Tuesday, killing 16 of their teachers and classmates and injuring many more.

The teens, members of a black-clad outcast clique in the school known as the “Trenchcoat Mafia,” were allegedly known for their fascination with guns, war games and death, and fellow students said the shooters targeted popular athletes and minorities in their rampage through the campus.

Once again, America faces hard questions – and let’s hope our leaders want to find the real answers – which may be more difficult to face than simply blaming firearms for the crime.

What is wrong with a society that can produce teenage sociopaths, who allegedly rushed through the school “hooting and laughing” as they murdered classmates in cold blood?

What made them the way they were? How could they have been callous enough at such a tender age to to ignore the screams and pleas of their fellow students before they turned guns on them?

We may never know, because both of the alleged murderers apparently took their own lives after the rampage, leaving behind dozens of injured and dead and a campus littered with homemade booby traps and pipe bombs.

One question that can and must be answered concerns the origin of the guns and explosives the teens used in their assault.

Guns can be stolen – but if someone illegally provided them with the weapons, he or she should be held responsible for the killings as much as the the teens who allegedly committed them.

Construction of the numerous pipebombs and boobytraps discovered by police also took time, space and materials – all of which should have been evident to the parents of these teens, as well as their friends.

One thing is certain. Blame will be assigned somewhere for these killings – and with the alleged perpetrators dead it’s hard to see where it should fall. It is undeniable that firearms were a major factor in the murders – but this whole matter should be more than just a rallying point for gun control groups.

The Littleton massacre is only the latest in a series of shootings in American schools – children seem more and more prone to use weapons to solve their social difficulties.

Where are they learning that it is acceptable to use deadly violence to solve their problems? What is desensitizing them to violence to such an extent that they could commit these acts? Firearms are just their chosen tools – we have to find out what’s wrong with their minds to solve the problem.

Those are the toughest questions our society will face – and let’s hope they take them head-on, instead of sidestepping and turning the issue into a debate about gun control.

John A. Bayless is the Sierra Sun news editor.

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