As we approach the 20th anniversary of the Columbine shooting massacre in Littleton, Colorado, the reminders from the mainstream media are already beginning to hit the front pages. Predictably, the media will descend on Littleton, Colorado, as they did twenty years ago. The media vans will fill the parking lots of Clement Park. The helicopters will circle. And, those looking to push a certain agenda, and possibly even a profit margin, will also look to take advantage of the news story that will always gain immediate attention from a large audience.
The mass shooting at Columbine High School on April 20th, 1999 was truly the first event of its kind in America. Sure, there had been other school shootings and mass shootings in the past. Yet, Columbine was unique in so far as the amount of planning and preparation the shooters had taken to steal as many lives as possible, with no prejudice towards the victims. Their intentions were immediately clear as the first bullets flew through the high school’s cafeteria. Since then, there have been many copy cats with similar agendas. But, Columbine was the first.
For these reasons, the story of Columbine will always be considered as part of American culture. Popular American culture. Consider the amount of movies, songs, tv shows, all devoted to the Columbine tragedy. The town of Littleton will always be a magnet for story telling and those who want to exploit their story for their agenda whether that be policy or profit, or both.
Here is the untold story that has failed to reach the masses, and has largely been disregarded by the local and national media. It took almost ten years for the Columbine Memorial to be built, and this was largely due to lack of funding. Residents can confirm this fact, noting the fundraising sign posted by Foothills park and recreation on the corner of Bowles and Pierce roads. Years later, the memorial had funding issues for necessary repair, as reported by The Columbine Courier. This is a small but important observation when considering the amount of publicity surrounding this event.
Due to the fact many of these donations are anonymous, one should immediately should question whether political documentary maker Michael Moore donated to the Columbine Memorial with over $35 Million in profits from his film, “Bowling for Columbine,” or whether Foster and the People donated proceeds from the profits generated from their song,”Pumped up Kicks.” Sure, Moore has supported several gun control initiatives, but I have yet to find evidence that shows he has donated to the memorial or other local causes in Littleton, Colorado. Not to mention the fact that his documentary is full of lies. Foster and the People frontman Mark Foster told CNN after the shootings in Newtown that he wrote the song to shed light on mental health and gun control in America, arguing for the ban of AR-15s and large magazines. Both celebrities are strong advocates for gun control, however they seem to only put their resources towards an agenda, rather than helping the locals whom they are discussing in their videos and songs. Just in case you were wondering: $35 Million would cover the $15,000 annual maintenance costs for the memorial for 2,333 years.
So, it may be no shock as to why I am focusing on the recent trendy campaign “#MyLastShot” which is another gun control campaign purportedly started by a couple Columbine students. The founder of this non-profit organization, Kaylee Tyner, claims she was inspired by the graphic photo of Emmett Till, which caused outcry nationwide and is hoping to cause the same disdain for gun violence in present-day America. (We will look at this later.) Before I criticize her campaign, I must state that her goal is admirable. It is undeniable that gun control proponents and gun rights activists both share the goal of reducing gun violence in their home towns. However, I am criticizing the effectiveness of her campaign and likelihood for success, as well as the possible room for outright fraud from her campaign.
First, lets examine the goal of her campaign which advocates people putting a sticker on their driver’s license that states they would like the photo of their corpse shared with the public in the event they succumb to death by a gun, stating the the end effect will lead to more awareness and public outcry for government action.
A) America is already numb to violence. Many argue this has become a huge part of society’s problem with respect for life. We see bloodshed everywhere, in TV, Movies, video games, and now, you can livestream your massacre on Facebook. Kaylee may be too young to know that there is still post-mortem footage from the Columbine library, where you can see the aftermath in plain sight. The video was illegally leaked from somewhere within the fire department. So, it is a bit ironic that she would like to start a viral campaign where you share the photo of your post-mortem self—where in the case of Columbine, the massacre was displayed on live television for the first time, with much of the live footage on YouTube.
Next, lets focus on the data myths the campaign is pushing.
B.) Clearly, the campaign’s goal is to subtly allude to the “fact” that gun violence is just as bad, if not worse, than vehicular deaths. So much so, that you should notate that on your Driver’s License, like your donor registration! They may be pointing to the fact that vehicle deaths and gun related deaths in the last few years are nearly identical at 40,000. However, they do not highlight that over two-thirds of gun deaths in the United States are suicides. And, they are hesitant to share that only 1% of shootings in the U.S. are mass shootings, where robberies with bystanders are considered as part of the data. Mass shootings like Columbine, which by definition are terrorist attacks, are even less likely. In reality, you are more likely to be stung by a bee or be struck by a falling television, than be involved in a mass casualty event. Overall, the #MyLastShot campaign uses hyperbolic data to suit its argument.
C.) Where does the money go?
First, to join the campaign you must purchase their “sticker starter pack.” The website claims it does not receive profits from the stickers and does not list an overall objective, other than to highlight the problem of gun violence in America. It is likely this is only the beginning, as the website is listed as a non-profit organization. There will be other pushes for fundraising to affect policy change, all in the name of Columbine victims, whether the families support it, or not. Websites require maintenance, and funding.
D.) Did Columbine students really come up with this idea on their own?
The article on local Colorado FOX affiliate KDVR immediately points to the fact that Parkland shooting “survivor” David Hogg retweeted this campaign right as it was announced. Why is this objectionable? Well, Mr. Hogg was hand-selected with a few other students to speak for the entire Parkland community on the issue of gun violence. Hogg’s father worked for the FBI and was clearly well connected with the mainstream media. Also, Hogg was seen in one video being coached as to the events that occurred in Parkland that day, arguably one of the most bizarre interviews after a mass casualty event in American history. There is no doubt that he was on campus that day, however he was not in the same building and it seemed to many that he was ready to push his views on the subject, right as the shooting started. (He must have been in serious danger if he had time to interview a fellow classmate while the event was unfolding on the subject of gun control.) No, he was not a “crisis actor” as many have alleged, but he was the perfect candidate for the leftwing media to push a specific agenda, in this case, arguing for more gun control.
In reality, this campaign is a publicity stunt that is well timed and well organized for the 20th anniversary of the Columbine massacre. David and the classmates who were agreeable to his agenda were given a voice, while others were disavowed by the mainstream media for offering different solutions. If you argued for investigations into the Broward County Sheriff stand-down, or argued for arming more school staff, your voice would never be considered by the mainstream media. It is my opinion that Kaylee’s campaign is a well-planned and coordinated event to coincide with the 20th anniversary, and is funded by organizations well known in the gun control arena, such as “Enough is Enough” right as Colorado legislators move to pass red-flag gun confiscation legislation with full support from the newly anointed high school tragedy gun control czar in David Hogg.
E.) What solutions does the campaign offer?
The organization’s video and devoid-of-detail mission statement simply states that it wants to “stop the censorship of gun violence” by promoting those who are affected by gun violence to share the photos of the deceased. It does not offer specific solutions.
Ultimately, the objective of the #MyLastShot campaign is to raise awareness for gun control policy by starting a viral trend that will surely make headlines with the “Columbine Students Raise Gun Violence Awareness” moniker. Yet, it serves as another example of the “put on a bumper sticker, that should help!” mentality throughout the country that masks itself as a pathway toward finding solutions, when in fact, it is a publicity stunt meant to help legislators pass knee-jerk legislation which will never solve the problem of gun violence in America, as stated in our article: Mass Shootings do not reflect our lack of laws, they reflect our lack of humanity.
We must be vigilant toward campaigns that only raise awareness in the short term and may help someone gain a quick buck or help pass the gun ban bill they are advocating for, but do not help the local community truly heal from their tragedy. Many have been quick to exploit the people of Littleton, Colorado in their suffering from arguably the worst mass shooting in American history. For many, the question is not how do we heal from the event itself, but rather, how do we heal from those descending on our little town, telling us how to heal, and how to live?
Mr. Hogg and Kaylee, if America wants to be exposed to gun violence in America, they only need to turn on the computer or television. It is time to start offering real solutions, and stop labeling these events as one-problem, one-solution situations. Littleton knows firsthand that the problem is much more complex and requires more than putting a sticker on the back of a driver’s license, or banning a certain type of weapon. Ms. Tyner, you started the conversation—hopefully this continues it.
You can donate to the Columbine Memorial, here.
Editor’s Note: If anyone can provide evidence that Michael Moore donated financial resources to the community of Littleton in any way, please contact the editor in the “About” section.
Related Articles: Never Forget: The Columbine Stand-Down