The Columbine Shooting
The Columbine Shooting
The Columbine Shooting
The event of criminal activity selected for this paper is the Columbine High School Shooting which took place in 1999. It was one of the deadliest school shootings in the history of the United States of America. The shooting was carried by two of the twelfth-grade students of the school, named Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, in which twelve students lost their lives, in addition to one teacher, while twenty-five other people received fatal injuries, due to gunfire. According to the details of the incident, it appears that Harris was the lead and Klebold followed his instructions, though he was not forced to do so. A great number of guns, explosive materials and bombs were utilized by the young shooters, due to which it can be called a terrorist attack. Moreover, the students depicted the criminal and violent attitude, due to a number of their activities, which highlighted the fact that the shooting was not just an unfortunate happening. The criminal incident was a well-planned terrorist activity, in which the killers wanted to kill more and more people. The social learning theory of crime can be utilized to explain the actions of the young killers, which states that criminal behavior is learned through society. In the case of Harris and Klebold, they had learned the criminal activities from the video games and television shows, as well. The paper will explore the Columbine High School Shooting and its predators Klebold and Harris, in the light of the social learning theory of crime.
The activity of one of the deadliest school shootings in the history of the United States of America took place on the 20th of April 1999. The criminals Harris and Klebold were eighteen and seventeen years old respectively. The shooting was well planned because there was a history of violent activities and the attitude of the criminals, which posed a threat to society. One of the most important thing which highlighted the planning of the criminal activity was the content of the private website which was managed by Harris. It was basically a gaming site, on which he started posting content about his plans and wishes. He posted blogs about his agony and aggression towards the society, parents, school and his class fellows. He specifically mentioned that he wants to kill one of his class fellows. In addition to it, he also explained his mischievous activities, in which he participated along with Klebold while keeping it a secret from his parents. Moreover, he also posted the content on the website regarding the preparation of the website. Harris had published his views and ideology on the website not just a few days or a few months before the actual shooting scenario. However, all of this was published in the year 1997 and he was acquainted with Klebold at that time (Kerr, 2018).
In 1998, the two shooters of the incident broke in a van and stole the computers and equipment from the van. After that, both of them were arrested and they pleaded guilty of their crimes. They received the punishment and were made to attend the anger management psychotherapies. Due to their positive attitude, they were released early from the detention, however, continued their psychological sessions. After the van incident, Harris removed the content from the website and changed it to the gaming site, as earlier. Their activities did not just stop there, as the two offenders started keeping their journals after the incident of the van and kept a detailed account of their wishes, plans and ideology. Moreover, the two offenders never let go of a chance of calling their plans of carrying out the shooting and killing as many people as they could. They made the documentary tapes about their plans and wrote their piece of creative writing about their plans, which is proof of the planning of the incident (Altheide, 2009).
The incident of the school shooting finally took place in 1999 and the criminals used a wide range of diverse weapons which included Intratec TEC-DC9, Hi-Point 995 Carbine, Savage 67H pump-action shotgun, Stevens 311D double-barreled sawed-off shotgun, ninety-nine explosives and four knives as well. They also used the car bombs, pipe bombs and propane bombs. They planted the bombs in the cafeteria of the school in order to kill the students during the lunch hour. They had planned to kill the first responders by planting the bombs in their cars, which were in the parking lot. They had thought that the detonation of the bombs would create chaos in the area and they would get the opportunity of stabbing and killing all the students and other people in the vicinity of the school. However, the bombs in the cafeteria and parking lot did not detonate according to their plan and they described to just shot the guns and kill the students. They attacked the students in the library and kept saying that they would kill each and every individual in the school. The rescue teams reached the scene within a few minutes, however, did not carry out the rescue mission, as they were fearful of the young criminals. At last, the two criminal committed suicide, which ended the most horrible school shooting in American history (Elsass, Schildkraut, & Stafford, 2016).
According to the social learning theory of crime, crime is a learned behavior and not biological or cognitive behavior. The criminal behavior is learned through interaction and communication with the other people and groups of society. It provides the justification that criminal behavior is not a part of the psychological or biological development of an individual. Therefore, the psychological or biological states of Klebold and Harris did not play any role in making them criminals. However, they had learned the criminal behavior from different aspects of society and were trying to play their role in teaching the same behavior to other people of the society as well. One of the most important proofs of this is the website of Harris, which supported the content of destruction, killings and crime. The research on the two young criminals highlighted the fact that they specifically searched the material regarding war and destructions and their only motive was to spread violence and mass killings in the society. They had learned the criminal behavior from the video games, as well as from the television programs. They learned how to make the bombs through the online available information, as well as they followed the previous shooting incidents and planned to make their activity as the worst and memorable case in the united states of America. They were also the followers of Charles Manson, who was an American cult leader and criminal. All of this shows that they had learned the criminal behavior from different aspects of society and they were not forced to do so (Akers & Jennings, 2015).
The Columbine High School Shooting was one of the worst shooting incidents in the history of the United States of America. The two young criminals Klebold and Harris depicted the violent attitude and thinking even before the incident took place. The social learning theory sheds light on their condition in the way that t highlights their behavior was learned from different aspects of society. They followed the information about making the bombs, the activities of the criminals, as well as the previous shooting incidents, in order to ensure the success of their deadly plan. They succeeded in killing thirteen people and injuring twenty-five other, before finally committing suicides.
Akers, R. L., & Jennings, W. G. (2015). Social learning theory. The Handbook of Criminological Theory, 4, 230-240.
Altheide, D. L. (2009). The Columbine shootings and the discourse of fear. American Behavioral Scientist, 52(10), 1354-1370.
Elsass, H. J., Schildkraut, J., & Stafford, M. C. (2016). Studying school shootings: Challenges and considerations for research. American Journal of Criminal Justice, 41(3), 444-464.
Kerr, S. E. (2018). Columbine School Shooting. In Gun Violence Prevention? (pp. 57-71). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.
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