Opinion: After Columbine, readers decried cultural decay in addition to lax gun control

Columbine High School shooting
Crosses dot a hill in Littleton, Colo., in April 1999 after the shooting rampage at Columbine High School.
(Eric Gay / Associated Press)

Since Sunday’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, we have received more than 300 letters to the editor on the massacre. All but a small handful of those letters focus on gun control, the preponderance of which favor more regulation.

Sadly, our readers have extensive experience commenting on mass shootings, and their letters haven’t always been almost exclusively focused on guns. In the days after Colorado’s Columbine High School massacre in April 1999 — in which 15 people were killed, including the two perpetrators — several of the letters published in the Los Angeles Times discussed what the writers viewed as the moral rot that may have inspired the killers, in addition to the majority that discussed gun control.

Here are some of those letters from 1999.

Published on April 22, 1999:


With our present culture in violent television, violent movies and violent video games under the guise of entertainment, we continue to blunder along hoping there will be no others. Well, it won’t be at this juncture. How many student body counts and injuries are we to look forward to? Are we going to be serious about this? What in the hell is it going to take to end this slaughter?

Wayne E. Scott, Camarillo

Sadly, our readers have extensive experience commenting on mass shootings.

Published on April 23, 1999:


At a time when our hearts break for the parents, students and staff, neighbors and community ... we naturally ask what can we do? There is much that we can do. We can pray. We can change the culture we support. We can stop attending violent movies, watching violent TV shows, buying violent video games, guns and war toys for our children and glorifying violence in sports.

We can support organizations working to reduce domestic violence. We can insist that more of our civil budgets, whether on a local or international scale, go into conflict resolution, negotiating skills and peacekeeping. Of course, there is much more that can be done, but let us start doing today. No one, and especially children, should have to experience what the students of Columbine High did Tuesday. We need to change.

Herb Huebsch, San Juan Capistrano


As Americans, we come from Puritan stock with a healthy dose of the Wild West. We hate sex and we love guns. In the era of AIDS, sex kills while guns are our salvation. In films, open portrayals of sexuality get NC-17 ratings while celebrations of violence have to work to get an R.

When did it all get so backward?

David Dodson, La Cañada Flintridge

Published on April 26, 1999:


I am so tired of reading our society’s denial of the problems causing incidents like Littleton. No, it is not the media, guns or rock music. It’s the lack of involvement, control and guidance of our children at home by parents and families. And, unfortunately, the problem of a few uncontrollable bad seeds out there.

Quite often, the hate of others that children act out was sparked by comments in the home.

Daryl Smith, Chatsworth

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