Bebeto Matthews  /  AP file
Students embrace each other at a makeshift memorial for their classmates killed at Columbine High School on a hilltop overlooking the school in Littleton, Colo., in April 1999.
msnbc.com
updated 4/19/2009 6:21:25 PM ET 2009-04-19T22:21:25

Nearly 10 years ago, on April 20, 1999, the nation  looked on in shock as two 17-year-olds, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, went on a vicious gun rampage at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., killing 12 fellow students and a teacher.

Msnbc.com asked readers to share their thoughts on Newsvine about the horrific event. A selection of their comments are below:

I was a senior in high school at the time. It was four days before my birthday. When my school got the news my government teacher stopped everything and turned on the TV so we could watch. It was terrible and frightening but none of us could turn away. We sat in the class and watched the news feed until lunch.

It was sort of strange for a few days afterwards... People started to look at the Goth kids a little bit differently. Teachers acted a bit more wary. Administrators and staff stopped people in the halls that had loose clothing. We were over 1000 miles away in California but it didn't matter. Everyone was afraid. — Mystic Chick

My daughter was 6 when Columbine happened. Today she is a high school junior here in Texas, the same age group as the students who died. Beginning in middle school she became aware of Columbine when the parent of one of the students who died, Rachel Scott, spoke at her school. It has been in her consciousness ever since, so much so that when we made a recent trip to Denver, the first thing she wanted to see was the high school and memorial.

As the two of us walked around the memorial on a cold, snowy morning in February this year, we talked about how it had affected both of us. For her, the biggest impact was the realization that it is necessary to be aware of what is going on at school, but to also make an extra effort at kindness for all people, especially her fellow students.

For me, the biggest impact, I told her, was the realization that one of the few places I had always felt would be totally safe – school – wasn't necessarily true. I cried as we walked the memorial, trying to explain that the realization of how quickly a child can be taken away from a parent in senselss violence was one of the reasons I had perhaps kept her a little too close to home sometimes, a little too sheltered.

Even 10 years later, my heart goes out to the parents who lost children; the children who lost their lives and the ones who were left behind, having lost a part of their innocence. I think it is important we not forget, but equally as important that we let those who suffered move on.Sheila

There is no way to stop/prevent/identify that does not seriously interfere with the liberties of everyone else. Even then, these types of events will continue to occur - witness the fact that they do in those countries/states/cities that try such restrictions/pre-emptions/etc. Police response could be improved (remember: when seconds count; the police are only minutes away), but that would be difficult without the ability to ignore personal liberty. There is also the option of individuals being able to address such issues on-the-spot. Unfortunately, we are - as a populace - not to be considered mature, or responsible enough. This is because we would have to learn - and be reasonably proficient at - forms of violence sufficient to stop these acts. Worse yet, we would need to have the appropriate tools on hand - ready for use - at that moment.TC00

I was a Junior in High School in California. I was in my Biology AP class, and like most teachers, as soon as it was announced, teaching stopped. It was all anyone was talking (if they weren't totally in shock) about. I remember people looking at each other wierd, particularly the group at my school that resembled the "Trench Coat Mafia". There was a tension in my school that I'd never felt before, and didn't feel again until 9-11.Lindsay

I was at a teacher job fair in Northern Colorado. It was the first day of a two day fair. Eerie to watch the entire Denver group of administrators and higher-ups get up and leave their booths immediately. By lunchtime, we all knew. The second day was with empty booths at the Denver area tables, many of us returning to do interviews and try to still get a job in the profession. It became one of those moments when we asked ourselves if this is what we wanted to do with our lives. —Teacher719

I was in high school during this time. A lot of things changed then. We were not allowed to do really anything. Everything/Everyone changed. We were now in my fear then ever before. I really thing that it taught every one that no everyone is "ok" and you need to tell someone if something is going on and you know about it. We all need to be more aware of what is going on around us. — Sara

Readers also shared their opinions on what should be done to prevent another incident like the tragedy from occurring again.

Require metal detectors at school entrances and require morality/etiquette classes each year.River

Teach our children not to do harm to others and set an example by doing that ourselves. Just today on the vine I was appalled to read a woman who had justified the bullying of a woman breastfeeding her baby in a mall - and who'd done it herself, in front of her own children. What a nice example - no longer wonder whether bullies are born or learned: they're created. It'll take generations, but if we all conscientiously practice what we preach (non-violence), maybe humanity has hope in the future.Alkimija

Do we really need to blame anybody? Why can't we just call it as we see it and deal with it. Some people need to do a reality check on their kids. As parents you need to know what you are sending to the schools to be taught by the schools. The main people that don't think your child would do something wrong or you think "Not my child" yes your child; will be the main one to be caught in the mix. I teach and I see what you don't see. Get involved more than just coming to the PTA meetings and booster clubs. Come in the school on a school day and ask to see what your child is doing during the day. Some of you will be surprised to see how your child acts when you are not looking. Let's stop being scared that our children won't like us. Let's love them and give them the courage to stand up for their peers that can not.Lynne

A lesson to be learned apparently has yet to be learned. The tardiness of the police in going into the school and perhaps saving someone and the ham-fisted way they handled the survivors at Columbine was noted and criticised at the many post-mortems.10 years has passed and the police procedure seems unchanged.Tom

There is no way to stop/prevent/identify that does not seriously interfere with the liberties of everyone else. Even then, these types of events will continue to occur - witness the fact that they do in those countries/states/cities that try such restrictions/pre-emptions/etc. Police response could be improved (remember: when seconds count; the police are only minutes away), but that would be difficult without the ability to ignore personal liberty. There is also the option of individuals being able to address such issues on-the-spot. Unfortunately, we are - as a populace - not to be considered mature, or responsible enough. This is because we would have to learn - and be reasonably proficient at - forms of violence sufficient to stop these acts. Worse yet, we would need to have the appropriate tools on hand - ready for use - at that moment.Aleuicius

One is correct that guns should not be banned as according to our consitution; we have the right to bear arms. However, to see everyone loading up on ammunition and guns with anticipation of them being outlawed is sickening!! Parents do need to be responsible to their children, however, there seems to be alot of parents today that are not responsible themselves!! Why don't we concentrate on being human beings as well as realize how frail that humanity is and how frail the human mind is!! Parents need to be responsible for their minor children's actions but what does that do for those who lost loved ones in such a horrendous manner! Wake up America sometimes, we are no better that other parts of the world! — Katec


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