Column: The will to act: why bravery must always prevail

By Brian Mellen

The Columbine massacre that rocked the nation happened in the spring of 1999 and, in fact, its seventh anniversary is coming up in about a week. The tragedy is considered to be the deadliest school shooting in our nation’s history. Thirteen people at the high school were killed and 24 others were wounded. Columbine needs no repeat, but a sequel was well in the works last week in New Jersey.

The Associated Press reported that four teenage boys ages 14 to 16 were arrested last week on charges of conspiring to kill 25 people during lunch at a high school in New Jersey. Administrators alerted authorities after luckily being tipped off by two girls who came forward with the information. Law enforcement said the teens planned on attacking both students and teachers at Winslow Township High. The names of the accused have been withheld due to their ages.

But the most important piece of information that can be taken away from this event is the reaction of one of the parents. The father of one of the boys, who also wasn’t identified, dismissed the charges as a mistake saying, “I think it’s just kids hanging out together and having a little wild time, that’s all.” Sure. I mean, who wouldn’t consider premeditated murder a “wild time?” I tell you, kids these days and all their mischievous malarkey.

The parents of these children must have had some clue as to what their children were planning and, if so, should have taken the information very seriously. If not, than they’ve failed as parents as well as responsible members of society. All parents should be an active part of their child’s lives.

The use of scapegoats like the entertainment industry and the lack of gun control as explanations for why students start killing their classmates is completely inadequate. These potential causes for shootings only serve to perpetuate an easy escape for people to dodge responsibility. These kids are minors and as such their parents are responsible for their actions as legal guardians.

Unfortunately, a recent shooting in the Emerald City of Seattle was not prevented. According to The Seattle Times, a few weeks ago, 28-year-old Kyle Huff left the scene of an after-party and came back shortly thereafter with a shotgun and a handgun. He opened fire and killed six people. When confronted by the police, Huff took his own life.

A number of gun control advocacy groups blame the availability of weaponry on the catastrophe. Although tightening gun control laws would not necessarily be a bad move, blaming the event on the gun itself is ludicrous. Huff knew what he was doing. He alone made the decision to pull the trigger and no one else. He alone was responsible, not the weapon.

Furthermore, The Seattle Times article tries to explain Huff’s actions, though it never arrives at any definitive answer. While it is only natural to try to understand why Huff committed the crime, better understanding the criminal psyche can also backfire and cause some to use the information to justify or sympathize with his actions. I call it the “victim of society” mentality, and that mentality serves no purpose in preventing future misfortune. Instead, criminals are better able to survive when society tries to understand and sympathize with their actions.

Blaming factors like gun control, the entertainment industry, and someone’s disposition in life does not help prevent shooting massacres or crime in general. No matter how hard we try to improve life for people in society, there will always be some miserable people like Huff and rotten kids with irresponsible parents. The best way to prevent these people from doing something horrible is for heroes like the two girls in New Jersey to come forward with any information that sounds like it could be threatening. The will to act is paramount in preventing these tragedies.

Brian Mellen is a junior in Communications. His column appears Fridays. He can be reached at [email protected]