Saturday, May 05, 2007


The Columbine High School massacre, highlighted by Mike Moore in his award winning documentary "Bowling for Columbine", has just fallen to third place in the list of the deadliest school shootings in the history of the United States behind last month's Virginia Tech massacre and the 1966 University of Texas massacre.

At 11.10am on Tuesday, 20 April 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold arrived at Columbine High School in separate cars and commenced their killing spree. Harris carried a 12 gauge Savage-Springfield 67H pump-action shotgun and a Hi-Point 995 Carbine 9 mm semi-automatic rifle with thirteen 10 round magazines which he fired 96 times. His primary weapon was the shotgun, which was fired a total of 25 times before he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head with the shotgun. Klebold was carrying a 9 mm Intratec Tec-9 Semi-automatic handgun with one 52, one 32, and one 28 round magazine as well as a 12 gauge Stevens 311D double barrelled sawed-off shotgun. He fired the handgun 55 times before committing suicide.

When it was all over, the pair had murdered twelve students and one teacher and twenty-four other students were injured directly as a result of the massacre with three others injured attempting to escape.

The massacre provoked debate on a range of issues including gun control laws, the availability of firearms and school bullying but the public outrage about the murders did not prevent the National Rifle Association from holding its annual convention just fifteen miles away in the Colorado state capital of Denver a little over a week later.

Tom Mauser’s son Daniel was one of the victims of the Columbine High School massacre. Mauser attended a protest rally against the violence at the Denver State Capitol clutching a sign that read on one side: "Don't let my son Daniel's death be in vain. Reduce the violence", and on the other, "My son Daniel died at Columbine. He'd expect me to be here today."

With tears welling in his eyes, Muser uttered these words to the 3,000 strong crowd:

"Something is wrong in this country when a child can grab a gun so easily and shoot a bullet into the middle of a child's face, as my son experienced. The time has come to realize that a TEC-9 semiautomatic assault weapon with a 30-bullet magazine, like the one that was used to kill my son, is not used to kill deer."

Harris and Klebold were mentioned by the Virginia Tech killer, Cho Seung-hui who called them "martyrs". Cho exceeded them when he murdered thirty-two.

And the world looked on in horror.

As I write, children are being murdered and maimed in Gaza at an alarming rate. Israeli security forces defending their own citizens from terrorism are not involved. These deaths are as a result of internal violence. Palestinian killing Palestinian. Since the beginning of the year, the toll of dead as a result of such violence far exceeds the accepted norm of any other society. Elder of Ziyon has the current number of deaths at close to 200 with a large number of them children. Hundreds more have been injured.

While the United Nation's Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict recently criticised the IDF’s security polices (which have resulted in far fewer Palestinian deaths and most of those were of terrorists or those put in harm's way by them) she – and the rest of the world – have remained silent on the subject of the ongoing endemic violence taking place in the West Bank and Gaza.

Avi Issacharoff describes some of the violence in Gaza in this Haaretz article. With the ruling parties of Hamas and Fatah busily fight each other, there is no semblance of civil society and gangs with guns roam free to terrorise the population.

This is Palestine under the rule of a so-called "Unity Government" dominated by a Hamas that exists with a clear purpose of destroying its neighbour. When the leadership issues schoolbooks teaching children to kill Jews and when it permits them to sell guns in market places then the children have no hope for a normal, happy and free life. All they have left for them is to go out Bowling for Palestine.

The world doesn't look on at this in horror because it doesn't know about such things. The information is there, but for the most part, it is kept away from the public eye and can only be found in the blank pages.


Anonymous said...

Freedom for Palestinians?

Can't happen while this sort of thing goes on -

Justin Cohen said...

Only just caught up with this article now.

Great stuff.