By Hollye Dexter
On April 17, just 3 days shy of the anniversary date of the Columbine massacre, 46 cowardly Senators voted no on the Manchin-Toomey bill, which would require background checks for all gun purchases. Though 90 % of Americans support Universal background checks, Congress failed to represent the people, choosing to represent the NRA's agenda instead. There are many obvious arguments that prove the need for background checks, such as the fact that terrorists and criminals can (and do) purchase assault weapons and ammunition by the pallet load from gun shows, but none are more convincing than these very words, taken from the journal of Columbine mass murderer Eric Harris.
From the book, Columbine, by Dave Cullen:
Eric had been looking into the Brady Bill. Congress had passed the law restricting the purchase of most popular semi-automatic machine guns in 1993. A federal system of instant background checks would soon go into effect. Eric was going to have a hard time getting around that.
“Fuck you, Brady,” Eric wrote in his journal. All he wanted was a couple of guns – “and thanks to your fucking bill I will probably not get any!” He wanted them only for personal protection, he joked: “It’s not like I’m some psycho who would go on a shooting spree. fuckers.”
Eric frequently made his research do double duty for both schoolwork and his master plan. He wrote up a short research assignment on the Brady bill that week. It was a good idea in theory, he said, aside from the loopholes. The biggest problem was that (background) checks applied only to licensed dealers, not private dealers. So two-thirds of the licensed dealers had just gone private. “The FBI just shot themselves in the foot, “ he concluded.
Eric was rational about his firepower. “As of this date, I have enough explosives to kill about 100 people,” he wrote. With axes, bayonets, and assorted blades, he could maybe take out ten more. That was as far as hand-to-hand combat would get him. A hundred and ten people. “That just isn’t enough!”
“Guns! The entry concluded. “I need guns! Give me some fucking firearms!”
Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold later acquired those firearms easily at a gun show. Eric and Dylan were both sixteen, but had an eighteen-year-old friend hand the money over to the dealer. No background checks, no questions asked. The rest, as they say, is history. Very sad and tragic history.
The facts are laid out before us, and yet we do not learn. How many more will die in mass shootings before we wake up? How many more mothers and fathers will lose children before we act? How much longer will we allow the NRA to dictate our nation’s laws?
The answers are up to us.
Take action: www.MomsDemandAction.org
Hollye Dexter is co-editor of Dancing At the Shame Prom (Seal Press), and two memoirs. Her essays have been widely published in anthologies and publications. As President of the Music Heals Foundation, she worked with Denise Brown (sister of Nicole Brown Simpson) on a campaign to raise domestic violence awareness, and with California State University Northridge, bringing music therapy programs to autistic children. In 2003, she founded the award-winning nonprofit Art and Soul, running arts workshops for teenagers in the foster care system. Currently she teaches writing workshops for teens and adults, helping them find their authentic voices. Hollye lives in Southern California with her husband and three children, where she hikes, plays music, and works with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. www.hollyedexter.blogspot.com