Mass shootings leave us feeling defeated, but it's possible to stop feeling numb


The 20th anniversary of the Columbine shooting prompted reflection about the epidemic of gun violence in America — and what can be done to stop it. Image: Joe Mahoney/Getty Images By Rebecca Ruiz2019-04-24 11:00:00 UTC

After Salli Garrigan survived the Columbine shooting as a high school junior, she felt like many of us have following a mass shooting — convinced that the average person can’t prevent such tragedies. 

The Columbine shooting, which claimed 13 lives, seemed anomalous when it happened. The idea that two teens would plan the deaths of their classmates — and gain access to the necessary weaponry — shocked America into believing that, by god, it would never happen again. 

Back then, people scoured the darker corners of the teenage experience in search of answers and solutions. It seemed easier to blame bullying, violent video games, and extreme rock acts like Marilyn Manson for the killers’ actions, as many in media and politics did. On the other hand, regulating access to guns felt “scary and drastic,” says Garrigan. Rather than viewing Columbine as an opportunity to demand safer gun laws, many people, including politicians and pundits, saw an inexplicable tragedy whose roots only experts could understand.