The Columbian massacre left more than 70 people dead.
But for some survivors, the real tragedy is the way it left behind the kind of culture that led to it.
“I would say the Columbians were just one of many young people who are living through what we saw,” says Kristin Smith, a 27-year-old from California.
Smith’s mom has been sober for five years.
“They weren’t just a bunch of crazy teenagers.
They had the best of intentions.
But they were not smart enough to keep themselves safe.”
As a teen, Smith was in a gang called the Mamas and the Papas.
She was kicked out of school and told she’d only be able to go to the movies.
Her parents got caught in the crossfire.
Her mother, who was already on probation, was arrested and sent to prison for two years.
Smith says the gang members taught her about violence and drugs.
“The things they taught me, that’s how they killed people,” she says.
“If you think about it, the Columbines, that was the end of it.”
Her mom had already been in prison for drugs and was on probation.
“My mom was a bad person,” Smith says.
She says her mom had been in trouble for drugs before the Columbine shootings.
“She had been arrested a couple of times.
But it was not like she was a violent person.
She just didn’t act like one.
She wasn’t going to hurt anybody.
I think she did it because she was afraid.”
Smith says she thinks it’s important to speak out about the Columbias murders.
“There’s a lot of people who aren’t thinking about the culture that they were living in,” she said.
“It was really bad.
There were drugs everywhere, there was violence everywhere.
But I don’t think they’re going to understand that culture, until we come forward and talk about it.”
For more stories from across the United States, check out the latest issue of The American Conservatives.
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