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Generation Columbine: Fear, Trump and Mass Gun Murder

Written by Nathan Kosted
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It could have been any of us and that frightens the hell out of me.

The failure to address real solutions for the crisis of mass shootings that have occurred in America has reached catastrophic proportions. The casualties no longer number in the teens or twenties. We are looking at over 500 killed or injured by one shooter with an understanding of vantage points and advanced weaponry.

President Trump has added his ever important policy analysis to this tragedy in America.

Premature is all the Trump could add in this time of need. Leadership is needed. Hard work is needed. Honesty and compassion is needed.

Mass gun murder should never be commonplace. Yet here we are. What happened last night in Las Vegas was merely the latest in something that started nearly twenty years ago. Addressing the problem now is not premature on any rational timeline…

April 20th, 1999.

I was sitting in high school German class that day. That was the date that the Columbine High School had the mass shooting that all others would follow for my generation. 13 killed.

Sitting in class that day as the events unfolded on TV is a memory I will never forget. I didn’t understand it then, I don’t understand it today.

It was a day that changed my generation and is a date that means as much to me as September 11, 2001. I remember where I was for both. At Bozeman high school, wishing I was anywhere else.

Looking back I wish I had never left that period. It was fun, it was free, I felt safe. Neither event shook me to my core at the time. I was too busy going to football practice and studying for tests, trying to find a date for homecoming. Things a teenager should be doing.

Bozeman High School was a pretty boring place, nothing very exciting ever happened. These events had no context for me. I had no way to even start thinking about them. It took years for the magnitude of the events to sink in.  A high school shooting did not seem possible in Bozeman, Montana, though I doubt people in Columbine, Colorado ever considered the possibility either.

It took years for the magnitude of the events to sink in.  A high school shooting did not seem possible in Bozeman, Montana, though I doubt people in Columbine, Colorado ever considered the possibility either.

I do remember we started practicing lockdown drills at school soon after. Enhanced security was put in place. We had moments of silence and we wore ribbons in solidarity. We came together as a nation and we all really hoped that this would never happen again.

The response to terrorism after September, 11th in America was quite different than the response to mass shootings after Columbine. We saw unity in Government, we saw unity in policy reactions. We saw a need to protect American lives.

We saw declarations of war and concrete steps taken to stop this senseless violence. In contrast, I can’t even name one single policy I have seen in response to mass shootings.

In contrast, I can’t even name one single policy I have seen in response to mass shootings.

The shootings continued for years as my generation grew up and in 2007 we saw the deadliest shooting in American history, Virginia Tech. 32 killed. 

I was in college at the time and yet again, a shooting at my university in Missoula never seemed possible.

Then Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot in 2011 at a targeted mass shooting. 6 killed.

Then the Aurora theater shooting in 2012. 12 killed.

Then a Sikh temple was targeted a few months later in 2012. 6 killed.

By the time the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown happened at the end of 2012 we knew the drill. We would see ribbons, we would see solidarity for a few days and we would see enhanced safety at airports, on public transportation and in schools. We would read think pieces and attend vigils. We would post pictures, reflections on social media and over the following days and weeks we would feel solidarity and motivation to do more. Then it would slowly fade as nothing occurred. Politicians would issue statements that said nothing and then they would do nothing.

We did try to actually accomplish some meaningful changes after Newtown, but we failed. 27 killed. 20 children.

We still can’t protect school children from mass gun murder.

REMINDER: Alex Jones claims Sandy Hook was a government conspiracy and President Trump regularly seeks advice from Alex Jones and looks to his website for news and information. 

Then Isla Vista in 2014. 6 killed.

Then in 2015 the Charleston church shooting. 9 killed.

Then Roseburg, Oregon. 9 killed.

and on and on and on and on.

Then the Planned Parenthood clinic shooting. 3 killed. 

Then the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. The deadliest shooting in American history. 49 dead. 58 injured.

I remember after Pulse we came together in a really special way. The attack on an LGBTQ nightclub was particularly painful. A safe space for a community that is targeted in so many ways already. PRIDE in Great Falls that year was attended by thousands. Denise Juneau and Governor Bullock spoke. It was a nice event.

I won’t be discussing any shootings that were described as international terrorist attacks as those have plenty of policies for stopping them except…

Suspected terrorists on the no-fly list can still purchase guns, despite agreement across the aisle that this needs to be addressed:

Las Vegas: 58 dead. 515 injured.

The deadliest shooting in American history.

I had several high school friends visiting the city during the concert. They are unhurt, but that doesn’t make my fear for them any less.

We went through Columbine together and Virginia Tech. Two events that could have never happened to us. Then suddenly Sunday night they were happening to us. I noticed two posts on social media right before bed that were frantically written and I could not tell what they meant. Just panic and fear. It took me some searching what they were talking about. They both were in Las Vegas and letting those who loved them know that they were safe.

I am scared for my friends.

I am scared for my family.

I am scared for people I have never met.

I am scared.

What does it all mean. To quote a famous dead guy:

“Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

If we continue to respond as we have as a nation then that is all our thoughts, prayers, vigils and solidarity mean. Nothing.

Nothing.

That is all any of it means if we fail to act. We define our future and it is with every inaction that we define what is becoming a failed period in history. To quote another famous not dead guy:

“We’re the middle children of history. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.” Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

My generation was raised on the promise of the 21st century.

The 21st century has delivered us Donald Trump. 

What do we do? We must ask ourselves and we must ask those we have elected to protect us from this violence which occurs only in America.

It is in these situations that you see the true heart of your elected officials. They often just back away and ask for quiet reflection on the issue. You see Democrats and Republicans scared to talk about making sure we prevent these shootings. We are the only nation on earth that allows these shooting to continue.

We must Demand that Donald Trump responds with concrete policy to this and if he won’t then he must stand beside these mass shootings as a failure of his administration and the party in control of every branch of government, Republicans.

But politicians have grown scared of Donald Trump. They believe that he is some massive powerful man.

I refuse to cower in the presence of his witless administration.

Donald Trump has no mandate, he is quickly alienating massive portions of America and has the highest disapproval numbers of any President in his first year.

Donald Trump won the election because voters were not allowed to vote due to restrictive voting laws.

Go register some people to vote with Montana Women Vote or Forward Montana.

Donald Trump won because people didn’t vote, we can win in 2018 and turn back the tide on the insanity of mass gun murder, his presidency and remake our country.

Donald Trump won because of unregulated dark money.

Donate to a non-profit that does voter turnout like Montana Women Vote or the Montana Conservation Voters.

Donald Trump won because we weren’t engaged enough.

Donald Trump has a tenuous grasp on reality and a more tenuous grasp on power that he wields through chaos, distraction, and fear. Until our elected officials stand up to him his control will tighten.

We must hold them accountable. They are not allowed to hide anymore.

I am still afraid. Though fear doesn’t do us any good unless it motivates us to be better. Will we be better? I don’t know. I am afraid that I may die in a mass shooting some day. I am afraid where I see my country heading.

Donald Trump is already President and will be until 2021.

We have already lost everything. We have nothing left to lose by showing courage.

We must make our country better. No mincing words. It is lost, we must win it back.

I am afraid, but I am motivated.

It takes one voice and then another. A member of one of the bands involved in the concert in Las Vegas has changed positions and stated he will be supporting gun reform laws:

My biggest regret is that I stubbornly didn’t realize it until my brothers on the road and myself were threatened by it. We are unbelievably fortunate to not be among the number of victims killed or seriously wounded by this maniac.

About the author

Nathan Kosted

4 Comments

  • Nothing wrong with being a little afraid Nathan, it’ll keep you more alert.

    This was indeed a terrible tragedy, the murder of over 50 people.

    But like it or not, there is no policy, or law that would have prevented this. The guy was a wacko, who was ready to die, and go out in a blaze of publicity.

    This guy had been through background checks.

    He had no history of violence, or anything that would have raised suspicions about him.

    The weapons were nothing high tech, the AR style of rifle has been around since the 60’s, and from his vantage point he could have used any kind of weapon to spray that huge crowd.

    After you stop and think about it, tell me what kind of policy could be written that would have prevented this?

    Murder is already against the law.

    Firing a weapon in Las Vegas city limits is already illegal.

    Another background check? He had many.

    A waiting period? He has been collecting then for years.

    A magazine ban? There are millions of magazines in America, about a 200 year supply, and in the 11 minutes he had to rampage he could have made do with 10 round magazines. Or 5 round magazines.

    This isn’t a time to politicize this.

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