I’ve just finished watching this recently released video allegedly showing Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris “practicing” for their murderous rampage, which took place about 6 weeks after the events in the video. As a gun owner and a recreational shooter of targets, maybe my viewpoint will be useful in tempering the hysterical remarks I’ve been reading in the media about the contents of said video.

The session takes place in a wooded area, obviously not very near any homes or other human habitation. Taking guns into the woods to shoot at trivial targets such as cans or rocks (“plinking”) is not unusual. This is a perfectly common practice in many parts of the world, including the United States.

The weapons in the video that I recognize include a sawed-off shotgun, an AK-47, something that might be a mini-Uzi, and a large caliber semi-automatic pistol. They appear to have brought only bowling pins to use as targets. Everything else they shoot at is in the area; trees, rocks, etc.

The Fox News story includes remarks like:

“The videotape is important,” said Randy Brown. “What’s really important is did the sheriff see it, did the school see it, or did the parents see it? How many opportunities were missed to stop these two killers?”

Frankly there is nothing remarkable about this video. It’s some young people in the woods with guns, having fun shooting at stuff. They don’t exhibit any pathological or disturbing behavior.

They can be heard laughing, joking and making cavalier comments about what it would be like if the bowling pins were human heads or bodies.

Which is a perfectly natural thing to do. I daresay most recreational shooters do this. The bowling pin at one point got a large shotgun round through it, which splintered out the back. It’s an impressive display of firepower. I own a shotgun myself and I have often joked at the gun range about the large holes left in paper targets and the enormous mess that would have made if it had been through a human body.

Clad in a trenchcoat, Klebold at one point holds a sawed-off shotgun and shoots from the hip at a bowling pin wedged between two tree limbs. He and Harris then look at a bullet-shredded tree trunk.

The trenchcoat I don’t assign any significance to other than that it was obviously cold outside at the time (as evidenced by snow and fogging breath) and that it was something Klebold obviously wore a lot. I happen to own a black trenchcoat, too. That doesn’t necessarily make me psycho.

With respect to shooting from the hip and other experimental Hollywood-style postures (with the sawed-off shotgun in particular), what I really learned from that is that neither of these guys knows jack shit about how to correctly hold a firearm. If they were trying to aim at all, they couldn’t have hit the broad side of a barn. When someone finally got a shotgun round through a bowling pin, this was cause for celebration and a camera close-up. Pathetic. They were only shooting from about 25 yards away. I’m not an expert marksman and I would have put a dozen rounds through that thing without missing.

Ironically, the one person in the video who appears to be correctly holding a weapon is the girl, who takes her time with the shots as if she’s actually aiming at something. She’s also the only one I noticed wearing any ear protection.

This wasn’t a “training” video. There we no set up targets, paper or otherwise, suitable for this purpose. There was no real attempt to be accurate. This was just some people in the woods plinking at bowling pins. I don’t know about the laws in Colorado regarding the weapons they were using, although at one point the boys show the camera the injuries sustained to the webbing between their thumb and forefinger, caused by the powerful recoil of the sawed-off shotgun (which they fire one-handed a few times, which is pretty dumb). Someone remarks, “This is what happens when you saw off a shotgun and make it illegal”.

One of the boys attempts reloading the pump shotgun in what he calls “Linda Hamilton style” (From Terminator 2), one-handed and jerking the gun in a vertical motion. He appears to discover two things: 1) It’s not a very effective way of reloading a shotgun, and 2) It’s extremely awkward (not to mention extraordinarily foolish). It also happens to be a good way of damaging the shotgun mechanism.

At another time, one of the boys holds the muzzle of the shotgun up to his mouth to blow the smoke away cowboy style. I view this as evidence of stupidity rather than chic. I wouldn’t put the muzzle of a shotgun anywhere near my mouth, especially not a loaded one. During the display of the hand injuries, someone is holding the shotgun upside down horizontally to show where the illegal pistol grip is mounted. This weapon changes hands a couple of times as someone takes it back, and the barrel is pointing every which way. If it had gone off during that, someone would have been shot. Usually this kind of behavior results in auto-Darwination, sooner or later.

If there is anything “cavalier” about this video, it is the careless handling of the weapons by the boys. This is not the way people with firearms training would act when it comes to gun safety. The joking around is perfectly normal and is not as prevalent as some news stories suggest. I clearly heard only three comments concerning the destructive potential of the guns on a human body, and the video is several minutes long.

Klebold and Harris were mass murderers, that is certain. But I dislike the way the Columbine incident has been turned into a crusade against gun ownership and guns in general. These kids were not legal, trained, or responsible gun owners. The attempt to make gun owners (and these kids) seem creepy just because they were joking around is a mischaracterization of gun culture. Maybe this is to be expected, since few journalists show any sign of having actual experience with firearms.

In sum, there is nothing about this video that would have set off alarms about the future rampage of Klebold and Harris. Nothing they do is creepy or strange. Their remarks are not “chilling” or “disturbing”. It’s just a video of four guys and a girl in the woods plinking.

47 Responses to “Thoughts on the Columbine Killers "Training" Video”
  1. rosignol says:

    Are pistol grips illegal on shotguns in Colorado? I thought the legal limit was on the length of the barrel- it must be at least 18 inches.

  2. Charlie says:

    Damn straight. I wrote Fox a letter titled “Dear City Folks” during the first showing, pointing out pretty much the same points.

    One thing, though: there’s a federal law against the sawed-off shotgun, dating from the ’30s.

  3. Stephen says:

    Mebbe some footage of a busy newsroom should be billed as a “training film for dishonest and irresponsible journalism.”


  4. ThomasD says:

    Pistol grips, or sawed off grips do not necessarily render a shotgun ‘illegal.’ A shotgun of barrel length under 18″ or total length under 36″ is classified as a a destructive device per the National Firearms Act, and must be registered as such. Transfer of ownership of such a weapon is subject to local law enforcement review, ATF review, a $5.00 transfer tax and accompanying tax stamp (also known as ATF form 4); assuming possession of such weapon is allowed by state law.

  5. Gregory Koster says:

    Dear Ms. Hiaght: You say:

    ” This is not the way people with firearms training would act when it comes to gun safety. The joking around is perfectly normal and is not as prevalent as some news stories suggest.”

    Then what were these untrained shooters doing with the guns? Is this how trained, responsible shooters learn how to shoot? When you were learning how to shoot, did you hold a smoking shotgun near enough to your mouth to blow the smoke away? I doubt it, because you were being closely supervised by folks who knew a)what they were doing and b) what the guns could do if improperly used. If you had tried to blow the smoke away, I don’t doubt you would have been brought up sharply.

    How could these boys have developed into responsible gun owners, given what they were doing? I don’t say such an event is impossible, but odds are long, long against it. I cannot disagree with you more: the videotape is extremely disturbing. If they aren’t mass murderers, then they are punks acting irresponsibly, with a high likelihood that something will go wrong just at the practice shoot, let alone at any future shootings they might participate in. Put it another way: suppose the video had been of them driving a car down a back road, sideswiping postboxes, running down animals (and making jokes about “gee, what if that bird had been our teachere? Hahahahahaha…” I don’t think such a video would be smiled off as more or less normal, just a coupla dumb teenagers futzing around. I think this video would be seen as a precursor of disaster waiting to happen. To be sure, you likely would not have predicted the Columbine incident from the video. But you could easily imagine them shooting up something for fun, and carelessly injuring someone. In my view, such a video would be evidence enough for arrest and prosecution, just as it would be if they had used a car as dangerously as they were using their guns. Put it yet another way: suppose Colorado requires a permit signed by the police/sheriff to carry guns of any sort (I don’t know if this true.) Given that if you were the sheriff/chief of police watching the video, would you grant them a license, because, as you say:

    “Nothing they do is creepy or strange. Their remarks are not “chilling” or “disturbing”. It’s just a video of four guys and a girl in the woods plinking.”

    Would you say the above paragraph to the injured at Columbine, or the families of the dead? I didn’t think so. I don’t doubt that the Second Amendment to the Federal Constitution guarantees rights to individual gun owners. Not for me the convoluted lies of a Mike Bellesiles or Larry Tribe. But neither do I think that such rights are absolute, and cannot be policed, and policed vigorously if need be.

    I appreciate your reading this, and would gladly hear anything you have to say in reply. Or not if the press of business is too much.

    Sincerely yours,
    Gregory Koster

  6. Matt says:

    Under federal law, a pistol grip is one of the elements that can turn a shotgun into an “assault weapon.” (It takes at least two of the following: a folding or telescoping stock;
    a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon; a fixed magazine capacity in excess of 5 rounds; and
    an ability to accept a detachable magazine.)
    So if the pistol grip was added after the state’s “assault weapon” law went into effect, it could well have turned the shotgun into an illegal “assault weapon.” Many states’ laws mirror federal law on these issues, but I don’t know if that’s the case with Colorado.

    The minimum barrel length for a shotgun under federal law and the law of many states is 18″. The minimum overall length is 26″. It’s always a good idea to give yourself an extra 1/2″ to 1″, just to be safe–assuming you actually need a gun that short to begin with.

    I grew up shooting in a small town in Indiana. My father was a gunsmith. Some of us used to fill the trunk of my buddy’s ’68 Impala with guns, go out to a gravel pit, and blast away. None of us ever ended up killing anyone, including ourselves. (I’d been shooting for over 10 years at that point, and was always very fussy about safety, so I like to think I kept things safer than they otherwise might have been.) Once, a buddy of mine and I set up some paper silhouettes in a gravel pit and practiced drive-bys on them in his GMC Jimmy. Not because we planned to do any real drive-bys, but because we wondered how hard it was to actually hit anything from a moving car. (Answer: pretty damned hard. Running the victim over would be far more efficient.) Six or seven of us from the high school football team used to go out to our quarterback’s house just outside the city limits on Saturday mornings after games to shoot shotguns. He’d throw clay pigeons for us, by hand, and when he got tired we’d break out a mechanical trap. None of us ever ended up killing anyone. In fact, one of those guys is a lawyer, one’s a firefighter, one’s an engineer, I’m about to be a lawyer (I fooled around in the Marine Corps for seven years after college), and the quarterback now plays in the NFL, though he’s pretty far down the depth chart these days. I’m not sure about the other couple of guys, but I’m quite sure none of them are killers–or even lesser criminals.

    “Dear City Folks.” That’s about right.

  7. Patrick Lasswell says:


    Where were their parents? Why didn’t their parents teach them about firearms? Why didn’t their parents teach them about anger management? Why didn’t their parents teach them about constructive sources of personal power instead of letting them fixate on destructive sources of personal power? Why didn’t these two nutbars listen?

    I know some people who at one point in their lifes, I was uncomfortable going shooting with. Now, I am completely comfortable with their shooting safety. My rather rigid standards of firearm safety didn’t change, they just grew up.

    I grew up on the South coast of Oregon, and hardly a year went by without a brutal murder. By far the worst killed my friend Ray, his brother, wife, and their kids. The murders were committed with a knife. More kids got killed or ruined by cars than by guns, and kids I went to school with did go off on shooting sprees. The violence is in the way the person expresses power, not in the machinery that provides that power.

  8. RussSchultz says:

    The only thing that would creep me out is the sheer number of guns they own.

    Yowsa, that’d be a bunch. Especially if their parents had no idea that they had any guns at all.

  9. Tom says:

    Several comments:
    Federal law indeed regulates both the barrel length and overall length of shotguns and rifles. In order to escape the federal registration and transfer tax requirements the barrel must be over 18 inches and the overall length I believe is actually 27 inches rather than 36.

    I saw two sawed-off shotguns, a double barreled shotgun which looked to me to clearly be under the minimum, and a pump action shotgun which was iffy. It appeared to have a standard barrel length but the stock had been sawed to turn it into what is commonly called a Whippet, which is not illegal in itself, but overall length is the determining factor.

    I didn’t see the AK47, but did see a stainless steel (grey) Ruger Mini-14 or Ruger Ranch Rifle with a scope on it and a black synthetic stock with a folding stainless butt. Looked like a 30 round magazine. This might have been a Mini-30 rather than a Mini-14 (same design, different caliber). Nothing illegal there.

    I believe the pistol was illegal for minors to possess w/o supervision, but not in itself illegal.

    There is nothing disturbing about plinking per se, but they were definitly a bunch of kids without an instructor. The horsing around was extremely dangerous, and disturbing for that, but certainly in itself was not indicative of any criminal intentions. Foolishness is not the same thing as criminal, and foolishness is part of being a teenager: most of us get thru our teens without murdering anyone, and most of us do grow up to be responsible.

    What was disturbing was the clearly illegal sawed-off double-barrelled shotgun. It was illegal and they knew that. Evidence they were going to commit murder? No, not in itself. But definitly in itself illegal. If the parents had ever seen the tape they certainly should have confiscated the guns and had some talks. Would that have stopped the kids? I don’t think there is anyway of knowing. Parents just do what they can. Did the parents do enough? Obviously not. Could they have? That is a lot less obvious.

  10. ThomasD says:

    My bad, my fat fingers hit the wrong key – Matt is correct, ovar length of the weapon must exceed 26″ to avoid falling under the NFA.

  11. Arcterex says:

    Ok, first of all, this is Fox “News”. I trust them and their reporting about as far as I can comfortably spit a dead rat, and that isn’t all that far ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Scott says:

    I’ve seen the video. If I had viewed with no knowledge of the later actions of the two of the participants my impression would have been that some of them were candidates for injury from poor safety.
    Shooting stuff in the woods is something I’ve done as well (either purposely or at the end of a non-eventful hunt). If we did it purposefully, we’d take all the guns, because each is different. It’s like cars. Ferrarris and Bentleys are fun to drive but for different reasons. The same goes for shooting different guns.
    I use the call allusion for a reason. In the rural area where I grew up, gun safety is something that is taught at a young age. Yet, there are still times when, usually a boy, ignores all that he has been taught and hurts or kills himself. Yet, it is another tool, for which safety is also taught that kills far more young people; cars.
    Ultimately, I find the video very unsatisfactory, because it sheds no light on why these guys did what they did. The fact that so manner of the commenters can identify with going shooting (and even posing a little), shows that the activities in the video could not have been used as a warning.
    So, we are still left wondering: what could have been? and Where did their murderous ambitions spring from?

  13. Anne Haight says:

    I appreciate Gregory Koster’s remarks, since it highlights some things I should clarify about my original post.

    The kernel of my argument is that I’m trying to draw a distinction between “stupid kids” and “homicidal kids”.

    This video, out of context, is evidence of extremely irresponsible firearms handling, and possibly evidence of illegal firearms, but by itself it does not suggest that these kids were homicidal maniacs who would go on a shooting rampage at their school and then commit suicide.

    Now, in the context of these kids apparently not having adequate parental supervision, and the fact that their parents were not aware of this gun ownership and/or usage, this video has additional meaning. I’m sure that if their parents had seen this video, they would have been very upset and done something about it (at the very least, teach them correct firearms safety).

    My firearms instruction, for example, was at the hands of my father (who was a competitive rifleman and spent several years as a licensed firearms instructor). Later I took courses at a community college that were taught by a police officer and the rangemaster. So yes, I absolutely believe that competent instruction is necessary to good firearms safety, and clearly Klebold and Harris either did not receive any, or ignored what they were taught.

    Klebold and Harris also exhibited other signs of being disturbed and having an unhealthy interest in violence and killing. This video is just one such sign. The aggregate should have set of alarms in their parents’ heads, and I can only conclude that their parents were in willful denial.

    This video is a great example of reckless gun handling, and such carelessness in anyone will eventually lead to a serious accident. In that sense I certainly do not approve of the behavior portrayed. But I do not see it as evidence of psychopathy or other mental illness.

    Also, on a slightly different note, I’m not particularly adept at identifying firearms at any distance, so I will defer to the opinion of others better qualified. The rifle that looked to me somewhat like an AK-47 may well be something else. The general shape is fairly typical.

    I don’t know whether pistol grips on shotguns are illegal in Colorado, so my statement there may not be applicable. I thought it was a Federal law but that seems not to be the case. The law on what constitutes an illegal shotgun seems to be somewhat unclear, although clearly at least one person in the video believed the sawed-off one it to be illegal.

    At any rate, a sheriff presented with this video with no other context would probably respond to the illegal nature of the weapons shown (if, in fact, they are illegal). But I do not think it – by itself — would be construed as a sign of impending murder. But anyone who knew these kids, especially their parents, should have seen it as a warning.

  14. Troy says:

    Pistol grips on shotguns are perfectly legal in Colorado, as long as the length requirements are met. I live in Colorado, and recently bought (from a walk-in retail shop) a Mossberg 500 shotgun with an 18.5″ barrel; it came factory-equipped with interchangeable pistol grip and standard stock. There’s no way in hell I’d use it with the pistol grip, though; I value my wrist too much.

    The reason for the short barrel is that it’s my primary home-defense weapon, and shorter is better — it’s more maneuverable indoors.

  15. Sgt. Stryker's Daily Briefing says:

    What the F@#& ?

    Thoughts on the Columbine Killers “Training” Video With respect to shooting from the hip and other experimental Hollywood-style postures (with the sawed-off shotgun in particular), what I really learned from that is that neither of these guys knows jac…

  16. Gary Utter says:

    The sawed off double barrel appears to be illegal.

    “Assault weapon” provisions do not typically apply to shotguns. Certainly the pistol grip is not, in and of itself, illegal.

    I spent plenty of time in the woods shooting things when I was that age, and I did plenty of things with plenty of firearms that were less than clever. I spent lots of time shooting with my friends too. (I never worried about the cost of ammo, that was my Dads problem.)

    We even shot some illegal weapons, including a WWII “Tommy gun” that one friends Dad smuggled home from the war.

    You might have called us punks, and it might even have been true, but except for one guy who was severely crippled in a bad crash, we all went on to college and successful careers. A few of us killed some people, but that was combat.

  17. Sgt. Stryker's Daily Briefing says:

    What the F@#& ?

    Thoughts on the Columbine Killers “Training” Video With respect to shooting from the hip and other experimental Hollywood-style postures (with the sawed-off shotgun in particular), what I really learned from that is that neither of these guys knows jac…

  18. Chooter says:

    The Feds get excited if the shotgun barrel is less than 18″ or the overall length less than 26″. I veiwed the video must as the author here did, simply as kids who knew very little about firearms playing around. Nothing indicated a mass murder was in the works.

  19. Bruce Hayden says:

    In Colo., local ordanances are the primary restraint to shooting. Columbine HS is located in a county (Jefferson) that is probably half (mostly Pike I think) National Forest. They wouldn’t have had to drive that far. I grew up in that county, and even as a middle aged adult would go out back and shoot. Indeed, I had my wife do it a couple of times just to famiarlize her with my shotgun.

    I bought that gun about 15 years ago for home defense. I was being stalked by a former business partner. Really the ultimate home defense weapon. It looks scary, sounds scary, and you are much less likely to miss than with a handgun, unless you practice all the time. It has two barrels, one long (for outside), and one short (for inside). You really need a shorter (legal) barrel for home defense since a long barrel makes a shot gun ackward inside.

    I was excited last summer when my daughter went to camp and the first pictures I got of her were on a shooting range. They of course required firearms saftey instruction before being allowed to shoot. I had given her such instruction, but feel much better with her also getting professional instruction.

  20. Tom Walker says:

    You don’t think it is “chilling” or “disturbing” that these kids’ parents had no idea what they were doing with their free time?

    You don’t think their parents would have heard alarms go off had they seen this video ahead of time?

    I think you need spout off less until you know a few more facts than USA Today and Fox news can create for you to read and see.

    And I’ve been “plinking” before and never once did I think to myself “gee wouldn’t that be cool if it were a person”.

  21. Lance Turner says:

    Aren’t you all scared to live in a country where kids that age (with hormones racing through them, no firearms training & no adult sense of responsibility) are doing this sort of thing?

    How the h$%l could they can source, somehow, a variety of “legal” and “illegal” guns, find ammunition for the guns, shoot the guns unsupervised without being found etc. etc. etc. doesn’t this make you nervous?? You could have been walking in that forest…

    In most western countries you might have the occasional kid with a 22, but almost always on a farm.

    You might have kids on the rampage in the forest – but not with guns.

    You might have violent attacks – but without guns people don’t die.

    Stop kidding yourselves – look at the stats and ask yourselves the question you have been denying.

    Why upon why are so many people in the USA dying from gun related incidents?

    this sort of stuff is straight out of the north west of pakistan..

  22. Cletus says:

    The rifle that you mistook for an AK-47 looks like a Ruger Mini-14 with an aftermarket plastic stock to me.

  23. David Newton says:

    It is not chilling to see their stupid attitudes. It is par for the course for many in their age group. The problem is that they have access to firearms without adult supervision when they have that attitude.

    I’m British, and thus am used to very much more tight gun laws than in the US. However, I think that those gun laws should be considerably more lose than they are at the moment. The key is not so much to restrict what people can own. The key is to restrict who can get hold of such weapons. The key is making sure that loonies and criminals don’t get hold of them (legally at least) for one. The key is making sure that gun safety is taught to people. The key in that particular case is for the parents concerned to take better care of their children. The fact the parents did not know that they had firearms (at least I assume the parents didn’t know) is a very bad reflection on their abilities.

    I have only ever been shooting once. That was at an NRA rifle range in CT. whilst staying with a friend. The primary thing that was present at the range was an atmosphee conducive to the safe handling of firearms. The range master would correct you if the firearms were not handled correctly, and there were regular ceasefire periods where all weapons had to be unloaded. That was a safe environment for dealing with firearms. The only thing that hit me that shouldn’t have done was ejected cartridges from the gun of a bloke about 25 feet to the left of us. The ejection system was somewhat too vigorous and was sending the cartridges in the wrong direction.

    Columbine does not show how wrong US gun laws are. It shows how stupid the parents were for not taking care of their children. It shows how poorly the existing laws had been enforced. It shows what a bad attitude when combined with the above two can do. It’s too bad that none of the teachers in that school had a CCP, with local regulations allowing carrying in a school. Then they could have dealt with those murdering bastards before they did as much damage as they eventually did.

  24. Bill says:

    The people that you speak of dying in the United States aren’t the rural white teenagers. They are the urban black teenagers. Who, by the way, are also much less likely to own guns than the rural or suburban teenagers. Go figure.

    And by the way, it isn’t just .22’s that those rural and suburban kids own. They own deer rifles also. My God, those can kill from hundreds of yards away! AAAAAAAGGGGGGHHHHHHH! Run for your lives!

    P.S., you are an idiot.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Great comment. I was raised without any exposure to firearms, and I could still see this as typical adolescent behavior, not ominous in itself. The ominous thing is the after-the-fact knowledge that these boys are soon to kill many people. It’s like looking at photos of family or the famous who have died (the endless fascination with the Dallas footage of JFK is typical). The human tendency is to seek some kind of pattern or warning in these images.

    But this is way off the mark. The most worrisome thing is not in the video: How did their thinking evolve to where it became OK to kill their classmates? This video tells me nothing on that question. They could just as easily driven their car filled with a fertilizer bomb into the school. The problem is in their basic characters, not the weapon chosen.

  26. Alec says:

    The obvious lessons is: pay attention to your children.

    Before the “We need more gun laws” brigade gets itself worked up, let’s think about what was going on here.

    You had two kids who often commented on their rage, wrote essays and made videotapes about it, and, to cap it all, assembled a mini-arsenal in their parents’ home without nary a peep of protest.

    Gun laws won’t stop that sort of thing. Good parents will.

    If my kid came home reeking of cordite, I might have a question or two. Of course, that would require me to:
    1. Notice my kid,
    2. Pay attention to what is going on in his life.

    Psychologists have begun detailed analyses of many of the school shooters and guess what they’re finding? The kids had huge problems which manifested themselves long before they snapped.

    You can’t prevent that. No law will do the trick.

    What makes the video chilling to me is the knowledge that these kids had no clue on gun safety and their parents didn’t give a damn to check up on them.

    One other point: the kids + guns = school shootings equation has been shown to be absolutely false.

    The kids LEAST LIKELY to shoot up anything are ones that have taken and passed Hunter Safety and/or have been given their own gun by their parents. The reason is obvious: not only are the kids instructed in proper safety (they know that guns aren’t toys) they also have active and involved parents who care about what happens to them.

  27. Anne Haight says:

    In response to Lance Turner:

    > You might have violent attacks – but without
    > guns people don’t die.

    Um…no. Without guns people use whatever else they can find; knives, bats, screwdrivers — frozen hams in one case I read — to kill people. Also, I think land mines, bombs, and being run over by heavy, fast moving vehicles are all somewhat dangerous.

    > In most western countries you might have the
    > occasional kid with a 22, but almost always on > a farm.

    You do realize that a .22 rifle can fire accurately for up to a mile, right? A .22 would be a varmint rifle in a rural area, not suitable for game hunting or protection of property from people/animals.

    > You could have been walking in that forest…

    A legitimate concern, and this is why I don’t do it in the more populated woods where I live. I go to established gun ranges that exist for this purpose, rather than putting people at risk who might be in the area.

    I did, however, notice that in the video the kids are standing in an area higher than their target area, shooting down a slope into a hillside. That would be an appropriate way to go plinking in a more remote area. Being aware of what’s _behind_ your target is a primary safety rule.

  28. David says:

    I can’t for the life of me understand why anybody wants to own a gun for anything other than hunting. It is a syptom of mental illness.

  29. Robin Munn says:


    This site might help answer why a mentally healthy, responsible adult might want to own a gun.

  30. Robin Munn says:

    Whoa, what happened to the link? The words “This site” in my previous comment were supposed to be a link to:


  31. Sigivald says:

    David: Very good. Make dissenting beliefs and valuations an “illness”. Then those who dissent can be “treated” until their “sick desires” are “cured”.

    [All “gun owners” (“sexual degenerates”, “rightist wreckers”, “bolshevik agitators”) must be Treated until they are Cured. Of course, if this is not possible, they must be Liquidated, for the security of the State (“Society”), and the protection of the People.]

    Do you see the danger in your characterisation?

    I generally restrict myself to claiming people who disagree with me are mistaken, or wrong, and I endeavour to produce reasons why I believe this to be so. Calling them “sick” removes you from the field of debate, and thus makes rational discussion nigh impossible… and has dangers beyond that.

    (Of course, people generally agree that some behaviours are evidence of illness; but it’s a good idea (and safer) to restrict that category as far as possible, rather than extend it wherever it’s momentarily convenient.)

  32. Kimberly says:

    Anne – Absolutely fantastic post, from start to finish, including the use of phrase “Auto-Darwination.” Heh.

    I noticed a similarity between some of the assumptions made by dissenting posters on here, and some of the arguments I hear made against kids who adopt Goth or occult trappings. Let us not forget that the media focused on Klebold and Harris’s attire, as though the purchase of black leather clothing, in and of itself, could have produced homicidal instincts.

    The clothes – or the guns – are not the problem. The problem is, as Alec states so well, is that too few parents follow the policy of “Pay attention to your children.” I follow media reports of “Goth crimes” closely – you know, the Vampire Killers and all that – and the media always focus on the facts that the killers dressed in all black, or were into some gooey, violent, senseless mishmash of Wicca and Satanism, and so on. What usually follows is a public declaration to watch your kids for signs of “Goth behavior.”

    I know a lot about the Goth subculture, and I know a lot of Goths. Parents who beat the shit out of their kids, parents who abuse drugs and alcohol, parents who abdicate responsibility for their kids – those parents should indeed be worried if their kids buy a Ouija board or a gun. The problem is not the “toy” the kid chooses to express his or her alienation; the problem is that parents who ignore or abuse their kids are often let of the hook because the media focus on the trappings of the crimes, like shotguns and leather trenchcoats, and not on the reasons for them.

    I’m not accusing the parents of Harris and Klebold of being abusers – but they were at least grossly negligent of their children. And it bothers me that I live in a time when people (like Alec) who advocate teaching kids about safe gun usage are considered suspicious by the uninformed gun-control posse – but people like Eric Harris’s parents aren’t really held responsible because the black clothing, and the availability of guns, must somehow have been the real reason for their misdeeds.

    Apologies for the length of my post, but I found the debate on here really interesting, and the sort of posts like, “Aren’t you afraid for your lives because guns are so plentiful in your society?” are exactly similar to the “Aren’t you afraid for your lives because kids listen to Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails?” types of posts that I see on other sites. They not only confuse the symptoms with the disease, they assume that the symptoms *cause* the disease.

  33. WmWhitelaw says:

    David is misunderstood. He clearly means that his own lack of imagination is a sign of his own mental illness. I think he’s being too hard on himself, it’s just a sign of, well, his lack of imagination.

    Just for starters, I own a considerable number of guns which aren’t for shooting at all, let alone for hunting. David can let his inadequate imagination chew on that for a while.

  34. Josh S says:

    “Without guns, people don’t die?!” I suppose that when Rome conquered Gaul, they left only flesh wounds. I suppose that when a Swedish official was stabbed to death in broad daylight, she was stabbed with a gun.

    If you show up with an axe or a sword among a bunch of unarmed folk, you can turn it into a slaughterhouse pretty quickly, if you have any clue what you’re doing and a real thirst for blood.

  35. treefen says:

    Just a small note – while I can appreciate your stance as a responsible gun owner, I would suggest that there is a world of difference between a gun and a knife – if those teenagers had started stabbing people 1)they wouldn’t have been able to kill nearly as many people, 2) more of wounds would have likely been non-fatal and 3)they could have been easily disarmed by a few strong people. You can’t say the same for a gun. As for a bomb… well, I don’t think that mentally ill or deranged people would likely use them because they wouldn’t get to witness their victims or select them specifically as these murders wanted to do. In other words, tighter gun laws might have saved some of those kids. On the other hand, attitude means a lot. I live in Canada where the murders per capita are a fraction of the number in the US but we still have a huge number of guns per capita. That’s a lot harder to explain…

  36. Anne Haight says:

    > In other words, tighter gun laws might have
    > saved some of those kids.

    I doubt that. It was not legal for these kids to own any guns at all — they were underage. A friend of theirs who was over 18 procured the firearms in question and went with the kids on outings to shoot with them. The gun laws worked in this situation. No sales to minors. If the kids had been caught in possession of them, they would have been arrested.

    Do you think most cases of gun violence by minors involve legally acquired firearms? They are bought on the street, or stolen from careless parents.

    How much tighter would the laws have to be to 100% prevent such incidents? It isn’t possible. Legal gun manufacture could cease entirely and it would just go underground. Guns would still be available, produced by illegal factories, because there is enormous demand. There is never going to be a time when all the countries in the world ban the manufacture of firearms. If they’re not made in America, they’ll be imported. Many of the most popular firearms are foreign-made. SIG Arms, Walther, Beretta, Ruger, Uzi, Heckler & Koch — these are all foreign companies.

    Even so, that isn’t the point. Firearms are not evil. It isn’t possible for inanimate objects to possess moral standing. They are tools. They are weapons. How they are used is up to the people who have them.

    No, what failed these kids was their parents, who were not paying attention.

    > a knife – if those teenagers had started
    > stabbing people 1)they wouldn’t have been able
    > to kill nearly as many people, 2) more of wounds
    > would have likely been non-fatal and 3)they
    > could have been easily disarmed by a few strong > people.

    So basically you’re saying it’s ok for knives to be legal because killing a few people is okay and killing a lot isn’t.

    How many is too many? What number of people is that?

  37. treefen says:

    Your point is made, but perhaps I wasn’t clear – I’m not saying that killing anyone is all right, and I can’t believe that you really though that I was suggesting this was the case. My point is that a knife has other purposes, as a tool. A gun, at least a semi automatic or handgun, is a homicide weapon pure and simple. It serves no other purpose, other than as a recreational item for target shooters. This relates to my comments concerning Canada… while there are a high number of weapons, a very small number are concealable weapons, most are hunting weapons with another discernable purpose than hurting humans.

  38. Anne Haight says:

    > My point is that a knife has other purposes, as a
    > tool. A gun, at least a semi automatic or
    > handgun, is a homicide weapon pure and simple.
    > It serves no other purpose, other than as a
    > recreational item for target shooters.

    Guns kill animals pretty efficiently, certainly requiring less skill than a bow, and less randomness than a trap. For people in rural areas, and for those who hunt for food, the firearm is a vital part of their existence.

    Even so, the purpose for which a firearm was initially created does not inform its moral stature. That is to say, it’s still just an inanimate object that has positive as well as destructive uses. Whether or not any of those uses were the ones the inventor had in mind is not relevant.

  39. Low Tech Redneck says:

    I’ve heard that “guns are meant to kill, nothing else” argument before ad nausem

    My favorite retort is that to date, I’ve probably fired about 2,000 rounds of ammuntion from various handguns, shotguns and rifles, and have yet to kill anyone. My questionable marksmanship aside, I don’t think that’s mere coincidence

    A gun is a tool, it’s not some monster, it’s a tool, it’s purpose, is to propell a soft metal slug into a target with accuracy at range.

    It’s completely up to the user of the firearm to carefuly and moraly select his or her target, not the gun

  40. NachoMan says:

    Thank you all your your insights and comments

    Have you all seen (movie) BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE by Michael Moore? I think he is on the right track

    I am not against gun ownership, but I think it helps to see the situation from outside the box

    I have lived for 15 years in the states, but I still have the foreigners eyes, and it saddens me
    to see that very smart people can’t see how their kids are indoctrinated to revere a culture of violence

    We have a hard time educating the young to love learning, but smarter or more powerful people (advertisers, politicians, the media ๐Ÿ˜‰ , etc) can present their side and manipulate the whole society

    DIVIDE AND CONQUER, and believe it or not, it goes on in a very subtle way in most issues.

    Whether is x or y issue, if we don’t orchestrate our intelligences, and coordinate our strength, we won’t find the real solutions to our deep social problems

    The real problem here is that we are trying to solve a social problem from an individualistic point of view ( I learn this concept from the excellent book THE PURSUIT OF LONELINESS, By Philip Slater) and then we don’t really make a dent on the problem

    We need the outsiders insight, that can see what we can’t see

    Believe it or not, we are seen from abroad as a very violent culture, that reveres violence and later we ask: ” I don’t understand why that happened?”

    Even the media plays on this, and perpetrates what it says it didn’t want to happen

    How can you say? It is so fun shooting at something and hate doing math?

    Can you guys see what is going on?

    Any social program that really tries to help is non existant (or about to be fazed out)

    I come from abroad, and if you don’t give young people positive outlets and opportunities, they will look for a way to entertain themselves, and sometimes doing the wrong

    Where are the outside skating rinks, the after school programs, the organizations that pay well to people who help young people?

    We think we are free but we are not

    We are slaves of our fears, of our firearms, of our brutal economy

    We revere power, money, status, but proclaim to have the highest ideals of freedom and equality

    We are secretely racist, sexist, classist, but we think we have a good heart and compassion

    The real problem starts in what we value

    If we truly value humanity, then we will refuse to sell out to help create bombs to bomb the hell out of other countries

    If we really care about having a good spirit, we would read what american foreing policy really does (read, watch, listen Noam Chomsky) and realize that what goes around comes around

    We will have more columbines and more september 11’s unless we dare to look at how we contribute to the problem (watch pbs tv program SPIRITUAL AND EMOTIONAL BLINDSPOTS, By Virginia Satir and Patricia Sun, to have an insight why we can’t dare to see our contribution to the problem, the transcripts are online)

    We are all connected

    The real good people need to unite

    Not with arms, but with insights, with the awareness that only when we raise our human consciousness and embrace all humanity, only then we will find the breakthroughs to help all society

    I respect and love America, America has the means to be the greatest spiritual leader of all countries, and the opportunities to raise to achieve greatness, or the opportunity to deceive ourselves and fall prey to advertisemnt and the media

    I know most of you are real good people, but maybe can’t see my perspective

    I only write because maybe one insight, one new vision, one new concept that I have, could be use by you to help ALL

    I admire and respect you all, for speaking up and sharing your views

    Best of life to You

    Nacho Man

  41. Frolicking Nomad says:

    I have never fully understood where passionate anti-gun sentiment originates; I can only assume that it comes from fear and ignorance.

    My grandfather had a smallish gun collection (maybe 15 total), many of which he acquired during his time in the Army during and after WWII. My father and uncle have also always owned guns, which they use for bird hunting and skeet shooting, and my grandmother was a crack shot until she damaged her shoulder from excessive knitting. (Seriously.)

    When I was old enough to be able to handle it, I got my dad to teach me how to use my grandmother’s shotgun, both because I wanted to know how and because I didn’t want to be afraid of guns. I was taught that you *always* treat a gun as if it were loaded with the safety off and that you never point a gun at anything or anyone that you don’t intend to shoot.

    The reality is that guns are dangerous if the user is careless or has malicious intent, and people with malicious intent can use a great many weapons besides firearms. Interest in guns and shooting is not “disturbing”, “chilling”, or “sick.” As for imagining targets to be human, when I was in the sixth grade, I used to visualize the face of one of my teachers in the video game “Duck Hunt.” I had no homicidal intent toward her whatsoever — I wouldn’t have dared to even say something rude to her — but she made me frustrated and angry and bore a more than passing resemblance to the face the ducks made when shot.

    The video of the boys seems disturbing largely because we know what happened next. If taken out of that context, as if the people on the tape were completely anonymous, there’s nothing to indicate that they’re anything other than stupid, reckless teenagers. Which, fortunately for everyone who’s ever been a teenager, is not illegal.

  42. MrBojangles says:

    Well, I doubt that anyone could say conclusively that one factor is to blame. I own guns, and I don’t use them for hunting. Am I a little quirky? Yes. Insane? Not unless I’m deluding myself… (Caution: Sign of mental illness!)

    But back on track: Why a group of underage teenagers should be allowed to own a street-chop double barrel and a TEC-DC9, not to mention a Mini-14 (replete with custom stocks), without their parents knowing or paying attention? That’s the issue.

  43. mia douglas says:

    hello i’m 16 years old and this is what i have to say about the columbine killers i have a mentel illness and i could tell you that i feel like killing students and teachers cause of all i had to put up with in the school system all my life cause of my illness, but these kids we’re clearly disturbed there are ways to tell when kids are mentely ill and when they have control of a weapon that’s when it’s serious and you need to aware someone. These kids stupid crazy behavior was apart of there illness they really probaly thought they didn’t care about what they we’re doing they probaly felt like they didn’t to but there mind was making them feel that way. That’s why i think they did what they did. you got to pay close attention when kids are depressed sometimes they will act out raged sometimes they act like nothings wrong when they feel like they going crazy on the inside i know i use to feel like it all the time intil i stared taking my meds)if the parent knew they we’re depressed they should have took it seriously cause imma tell you that mess is serious that is really between life and death and i know there friends knew that something was wrong with them they should have awared someone i have really really bad mood swings but what they did i could never do there illness was much much worst they we’re half crazy i can tell by what i’v heard and read they went bolling just befor like they wanted to have fun befor they did it they made tapes to the police they was really really mentely ill you just cant understand how out raged i feel when i use to get mad i would not be able to form my words i would have a break down and zoom out for like 30 minutes it was unbelieveble But these kids just was mently ill and just aint give a damn sorry but that’s the truth there heart was full of hate of mostly evertyhing so they just didn’t care about what happen to them or anyone eles but me and also other kids with mentel illness have a group nation wide for kids with metel health issuse and people that handle kids with mentel health issuse it’s big we are really tring to help teachers and students and parents understand mentel illness so feel free to email me and we can talk about it

  44. mia douglas says:

    this is mia douglas sorry this is my email

  45. Briton says:

    “It’s some young people in the woods with guns, having fun shooting at stuff.” I don’t understand how that cannot be sadistic, disturbing and really quite twisted – enjoying destruction? That is not normal, sane behaviour, however you try to dress it up, whatever age you are. Adults like yourself should know better, and young people should never gain access to guns, thinking it o.k., justifiable, fun. What effects could that have on them in later life, and obviously did? Thinking that an instrument to kill other people is a viable object to have fun with, a thing created to cause death. Anyone’s value on human life would be so blinkered if that is a leisure activity for them. I am disgusted that so many people could be in support of it. There are so many stories from America, just kids going into school and killing other people, other children. You may say that these are very rare cases, but camparitively with other places, believe me it’s terrifying. I live in the U.K., and we hear about things happeneing in America, and I cannot recall one incident occuring where a child has gone into a school and killed other children. Yes, terribly, children here have iled other children, but not with the regularity that is so scary in America. The ease with which guns can be obtained in America has inevitably led to this, the presence of people there to protrect you, like the police, constantly with gns on display, it must be taken as norm. I know that there are regulations with guns and that children aren’t legally allowed them in America, I’m not completely ignorant, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t get hold of them. And the laws are so lax with adults, you would not believe how easy it is in America in comparison to here to simply buy a gun. If I ever visit America, which I don’t intend to, I don’t think that I could ever feel safe. Or that my life was valued as a person. So many things are acceptable, it’s terrifying.

  46. Collins says:

    You huys are pathetic. You say you would never feel safe in the US? AHAHAHA As a Russian who lives part time in the US and part time in Russia, and as an avid gun person, I can tell you that in any country that outlaws guns, it is extremely easy to get guns. When I walk through the “not so rich” areas in Moscow (the slums), I have been approached 5 or 6 times with the question “looking for some muzzles”? (Muzzles is the street name for guns in Russia. I know you would probably die if you saw how easy it is to get an auto Krinkov or a tokarev pistol in Russia or Europe for about 100 US bucks. Oh and your life is not valued as a person. Stop kidding yourself, you would kill anyone in a split second if your life depended on it, just as anyone would kill you. Its a natural instinct to kill those who we believe are our enemies. So stop watching the life time channel, get out on the street, and maybe theyll teach you something about life.

  47. dae says:

    Well, nothing earth-shattering to say, really. But the news story said one of the guns cost 500 bucks. That’s just for one. So, the others? Does that mean they were going to work every day, saving up just to do something they knew was wrong? Or maybe they were saving up money relatives gave them so they could take it and use it for something no one would approve of. It’s just messed up to me. They’d have to lie to their family every day they came home. How far would you go to do something wrong? How hard would you work, and for how long? Messed up. To mister Collins. Don’t call them pathetic. Just because this is the way “life” is, should it be this way? And since other people don’t value life, doesn’t mean you have to follow and say life is worthless too, right? I’m not supprised Columbine happened, but there is no chance of helping anyone if we were to not care. I somehow think that apathy, and similar attitudes played a part in the two young men’s frustrations with school, and with society to begin with.

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