Littleton was a peaceful suburb south of Denver, Colorado. But the peace was disturbed on a fine spring day this year. From that time a terrible happening has cast a shadow over this little town.
On this day everything seemed normal at Columbine high school. Some of the 1,800 students were in the canteen having their lunch. At around 11:30 am, people heard a loud noise outdoors. First they thought it was a firecracker. However, it wasn´t the case. Two students, Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, had fired the first shots of a vicious attack. Its result: 15 dead. The boys were armed with guns and homemade bombs. They killed 12 students and a teacher, then they turned the weapons on themselves and committed suicide.
Their diaries showed, that both had planned the killings for a long time. The date for the massacre was chosen intentionally. The 20 th of April is Hitler´s birthday. The attack seemed to be some kind of revenge. A survivor told that one of the killers had said, \"I´m doin´ this ´cause people made fun of me last year!\" Another one had heard them say, \"All jocks stand up, we´re goin´ to kill every one of you !\"
Littleton is the opposite of a poor inner city area. 93% of 40,000 people who live there are white. The average income is $50,000, that´s 25% higher then for the rest of the nation. Littleton belongs to Jefferson County, it´s one of the
fastest-growing areas in the US. Many Americans move to this place, because they are looking for a safe work and environment and a good school for their children.
Columbine is a good school. Its students achieve excellent results in academic subjects and sports. On an arch over the entrance to the school are engraved following words:
The finest kids in America pass through these halls.
Columbine did not control its students for weapons, unlike many other American schools which fear violence. They thought that was unnecessary.
However, it seems that beneath the peaceful surface, the school had serious problems. Students told there were a lot of tensions between rival groups. For instance, there are the \"jocks\", or athlets. Other groups thought they are privileged by the school authorities. Another one are the \"preppies\", so called because of their wealth. They are really hated. The cool skaters formed another gang. And finally there is a group of intelligent outsiders. Others avoid them.
They go around in long, black trench coats, in summer and winter, and are thus called the Trench Coat Mafia. The members are described as really creepy and some are obsessed with guns, death and Hitler. They say that Harris and Klebold
were the most extreme of the Mafia. At the school they were known as the two people it was wise to avoid. Klebold had never listened to anybody and he was very quiet, but sometimes he had lost his temper. Nobody had known something about the boys, people described them as \"gifted\" and \"quiet\".
However, Harris´ Internet site showed something different. Violent media had played a role in influencing them. Both were well-known as computer genies and they enjoyed playing violent computer games. The boys refer to a terrible day to come which
they called NBK. Maybe it stands for the controversial film \"Natural born killers\". The site also shows the boys´ fascination for Gothic music. But for most of the people these facts aren´t very important. The important thing is that the young men had guns. Now those who are involved demand tighter gun controls on weapons.
OPINIONS TO GUN CONTROLS:
The US constitution gives citizens the right to \"bear arms\", but the level of violence in the nation has led to a heated debate whether that right is acceptable today. Many people would like tighter gun controls. The powerful gun lobby insists that guns and the right of citizens to protect themselves are part of the American way of life.
President Clinton, hinting that he wants tighter controls, commented as follows.
He meant if something like that can happen in a small town like Littleton, it can happen everywhere. Perhaps that fact will help us to keep it from happening again.
Charlton Heston, head of the National Rifle Assocation, a pro-gun group, told in an advert for the organisation, that the citizens shouldn´t cave in, because it was their right and their choice.
Sarah Brady, head of Gun Control, asks herself, how many people must die till we do something against it. It may not be the case that young people get guns and that there is such an easy accessibility.
A woman who lost her child in a massacre said, that there wouldn´t be a massacre, if they just have access to knives and baseball bats.
A SMALL VIEW:
The tragedy of Littleton was the worst and latest, in a series of school killings in America in the last two years. Two people were killed in Oregon last May, one in Tennessee two days before that, one person in Philadelphia in last April, five in Arkansas in March, three in Kentucky in December 1997, and two in Mississippi.
All these murders happened in small, calm towns like Littleton without those big problems of inner cities which are mainly high crime rates and social problems.
FACTS AND FIGURES:
1993-94 academic year, 52 children were killed in US schools. Last year \"just\" 24. Before the killings in Littleton, two months before the end of this school year, there had been nine.
In 1996-97, 6,000 students were expelled for bringing guns to school.
Estimates say there are 200 million guns in the US. Nearly 40% of Americans have a gun in their house.
More than 10,000 people in America are shot dead every year-the highest figure in the developed world.
THE POSITION NOWADAYS:
Now the parents of a victim, who was killed in this massacre, are accusing the US weapon label Navegar. The reason for this charge is that their marketing-strategy is very bad. The weapon´s selling is aligned on criminals.
This has already decided a judgement in September 1998.
Gothic rock and teenage killers - could there be a link?
Gothic bands like to shock with songs of death and evil.
The best known gothic rocker is Marilyn Manson, whose name is a combination of Marilyn Monroe and the notorious killer Charles Manson. His favourite themes are suicide and satanism.
Manson has many fans in the US and Europe, among them were Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. \"They sang his songs and joked about killing people\", said a classmate.
The two where also fans of KMFDM-Kein Mitleid für die Minderheit - No sympathy for the minority. It´s a German band that is now in Seattle. They also liked Rammstein, a German group.
After the bad killings these bands made sure that they sing about violence, but they definitely refuse to practise it. Youth experts who have studied the goths said they are fascinated by death, but more of its sadness than its violence.
So gothic movement can be a sign that the kids are in trouble.