The horrific shooting at Columbine High School took the lives of 12 students and a teacher, in an atmosphere of education typically lauded for its relative peace and safety. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris had embarked on an unstoppable mission of murder, and the ramifications of their actions were of little consequence: their goal was to exact revenge upon those whom they felt had done them wrong. The two teenaged shooters stalked the school, asking students why they should be allowed to live. TIME’s cover story detailed the issue of gun crime in the U.S. as framed by the horrors visited upon one suburban high school:
The hardest thing about the search for an explanation was the growing fear there might not be one. There would be lots of talk about the venomous culture that these boys soaked in–but many kids drink those waters without turning into mass murderers. There would be talk of deep family dysfunction, something in their past or their present, but nothing in the first days of archaeology turned up anything tidy that explained something so massively wrong. These were parents who came to all the Little League and soccer games. They even came to practices.