Latest Reading: Columbine

I just finished Dave Cullen’s book on the shooting at Columbine High School in his book, Columbine. I saw it in the discount bin in Barnes and Noble and bought it for the plane. Cullen is a reporter for the New York Times and put years in researching the investigation and interviewing people involved. If you recall, in April of 1999, two students murdered 13 of their classmates at Columbine High School in Colorado, USA.

A few take-aways from the book.

  • It is very easy to buy guns, bullets, and other weapons in the USA. The two boys bought guns at these trade shows in Denver and found 18 year old friends to get weapons.
  • I also of course, sympathized with the principals of the school. The lasting impact of something like that happening at a school are devastating. Not only in the immediate afterwards, but in years following.
  • There were so many missed opportunities to intervene and stop the boys from doing this. From the gun shop calling the parents’ home with “your bullets are in” to a violent, creative writing piece one of them turned in for an assignment. That is the way it always is in these tragedies, but it takes someone going the extra step.
  • The media coverage and myths arising from the event were grossly wrong and misleading. Cullen really did his homework to give a true portrayal of what happened and why.
  • The police SWAT teams changed their strategy after this event, moving from a wait-and-see secure the perimeter, to actively search for the perpetrators and subdue them.

Overall an interesting read with relevance to every administrator. I recommend the book, especially for Cullen’s writing on the family background of the two boys and their rationale.


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