Let’s remember Columbine correctly.

It’s another Columbine anniversary, and as my kid makes his way through public schools it’s hard to avoid one of the massacre’s biggest legacies; the anti-bullying movement. My district uses Rachel’s Challenge literally founded to honor one of the victims by naming a school-based behavior modification program after her. And while I can’t say there’s anything wrong with teaching kids not to bully, I feel it’s a disservice to think of Columbine in this way.

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were not victims of bullying, and it’s dangerous to keep alive a narrative that tells kids shooting a bunch of classmates is an established redress for the perceived wrongs done to them.

Harris was a psychopath. His parents were too proud to use mental health treatment, and they took advantage of their frequent moves around the country to hide his history of disturbing and dangerous behavior. Klebold was experiencing major depression and journaled his suicidal ideation. Together they were an especially dangerous combo who had easy access to guns and also made their own explosives.I feel like we owe it to everyone involved to remember the story correctly.

They weren’t the first school shooters, but they did spark a fire that’s still burning. We’ll never learn how to put it out if we lie to ourselves about what happened.

Recommended Reading:

No one’s coming to save us.

No one’s coming to save us. Not a heroic politician. Not a celebrity activist. Not a nation-wide march. Not the outrage caused by a string of increasingly gruesome mass shootings of historic proportions. Not even the fact that we’re averaging a school shooting every 60 hours this year will be enough to spur our leaders to make change. We are all there is.

But we are enough. We, each and every one of us, must make the decision that we’re going to change this. And then we have to commit ourselves to the tedious work of lobbying our elected officials. Not just flailing our arms in despair and yelling “do something,” but the unglamorous work of showing up, calling up, and consistently confronting our officials on the votes they cast for specific legislation to make our communities safer.

It’s not quick, easy, or sexy, but it’s successful. In the past 5 years, NRA-backed bills have been defeated in 30 states. It takes a coalition of different groups and approaches to do this work, so go find one and let’s share the load.