How a generation of American children grew up expecting to be shot by other children

How is it possible that something this evil — without precedent in the history of this country and with few parallels abroad, even in countries in the midst of civil war — has become more routine than elections or the Super Bowl?

The aftermath of the Parkland school shooting.
(Image credit: MICHELE EVE SANDBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

In my lifetime American children being murdered at school by their fellow students has become an almost unremarkable occurrence.

How did this happen? When Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 of their classmates and one teacher in Columbine, Colorado, it was a generation-defining moment, like the assassination of President Kennedy. It was not only the scale of the slaughter that astonished Americans who followed the story in the still early days of 24-hour cable news; it had only been a few years since the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killed 168 people. But the Oklahoma City bombers Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were terrorist lunatics who looked the part. They were monstrous adults whose victims had included children, circumstances that are not exactly unknown in human history. Harris and Klebold were themselves children — awkward, misfit children with few friends to be sure, but children all the same — killing other children with cold military efficiency.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.

SUBSCRIBE & SAVE
https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/flexiimages/jacafc5zvs1692883516.jpg

Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us