Nineteen years ago, one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history happened at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Thirteen lives were lost, and 13 families were forever changed.
Evan Todd was one of the lucky ones. The first to be shot in the library, he persuaded the shooters not to murder him.
“After a while they came back around to where I was at, and put guns to my head and asked, ‘Why shouldn’t we kill you?’” Todd recalled to The Daily Signal.
“I told them, ‘I’ve been good to you and everyone in this school and you know it.’ Their facial expressions changed and they lowered their guns. They looked at each other and one of them said to the other, ‘You can kill him if you want.’ … That’s when I got out and that’s when everyone that could still, that was alive, got out.”
Nineteen years later, Todd still lives in the area and he and his wife recently welcomed a newborn son into their lives. Standing at the Columbine Memorial, Todd tells The Daily Signal, we’re “still dealing with this.”
Engraved into the stone memorial are quotes from teachers, students, and families of victims. One quote from a teacher reads: “Nobody ever trained for this, we were just teachers doing what we did every day.”
“That explains a lot right there,” Todd said. “When Columbine happened, that’s all you could do. Now we know that that’s not enough anymore.”
This year’s anniversary of the Columbine school shooting falls at a time when the nation is engaged in an emotional debate over school shootings, and how to prevent them. Liberals argue for reforms such as banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, as well as expanding background checks to all gun sales. Conservatives argue for more comprehensive reforms that address school security, mental health, the community, and the family.
Todd says that 19 years later “It has become obvious to me that had one of the teachers had [a] firearm on them that day, the attack would have been cut short.”
“Mr. Sanders and many of the victims of that day could [be] alive and well,” he added, referring to a teacher who died.
While the debate over arming qualified teachers and staff inside schools has become a political football since President Donald Trump advocated it in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, which left 17 people dead, schools in eight states already allow teachers to carry guns on K-12 school grounds.
Six other states are considering legislation to allow it.
A Morning Consult/Politico poll conducted after the Parkland shooting found half of registered voters support the idea. Forty-three percent oppose the idea, and 8 percent said they don’t know or had no opinion.
Having lived through the traumas of a school shooting—and still dealing with the repercussions today—Todd has an opinion, to say the least.
“The first thing we need to do is to protect our children. I think if we start actually defending our schools and defending and protecting our children then these won’t happen as often because they’ll be stopped before too many are murdered,” Todd said. “It’ll also send a message to anyone else that you will be faced down. It won’t be a unilateral gun fight anymore.”
Watch the video to hear more of Todd’s story.
This article has been republished with permission from The Daily Signal.
elsey Bolar is a senior news producer at The Daily Signal and co-host of "Problematic Women," a podcast.