Essay on 1999 Columbine School Shooting

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Vanderbilt University
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Choice Theory; According to the choice theory, human beings are creatures who have the ability to reason before making a choice in regard to their behavior. They are able to think of the means to be used in executing a certain act and predict the end result. They can also weigh the cost and the benefits involved before making the choice. The theory posits that crime is a behavior designed to fulfill certain needs of the individual (Maguire, 2007). For instance, people can commit a crime in order to make money, gain a certain status or fulfill sexual desires as well as for excitement purposes among others. In the case of 1999 Columbine school shooting, it is said that the students who committed the crime were doing so because they felt as outcasts of a social culture and that they were bullied by other students. Other people explain that the students conducted this act due to influence by video games. However, the exact reason as to why the carried out the massacre (Hasday, 2013). As posited by the choice theory, they could have made the decision to conduct the massacre with the aim of revenging for being bullied. The choice could also have been based on the need to fill the void of being social outcasts. They knew they would later kill themselves and hence did not have to worry about the cost of their crime as they would be dead. It could be for this reason that they killed and wounded so many people.

Trait Theory; According to trait theory, certain personality traits are likely to predispose an individual to committing a crime. Traits are influenced by the genetic composition of the individual as well as the environment in which they live or have been brought up (Vito, & Maahs, 2017). In this regard, the school environment could have facilitated the change of attitude and personality of the two students, consequently leading them into committing the crimes. It is said that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had been bullied and that they were social outcasts (Hasday, 2013). As a result, they were not socially interacting with the rest of the students in a good way. As such, the environment they were living in at school might have influenced their behavior and contributed to their criminal acts. It is not known how their behaviors were prior to the 1999 Columbine school shooting and hence it is not easy to accurately determine whether their traits had a genetic influence.

Theory that explains the crime; the theory that accurately explains this crime is the choice theory. As it has been stated earlier, human beings can make certain choices based on a rational reasoning whereby they weight the benefits and costs of the decision as well as the means and the end of the actions. In the case of 1999 Columbine school shooting; the two students knew in prior that the end of their choice would be death for both of them. As result, they did not have to mind about the legal implications of the crime they committed. This could be the reason as to why they killed so many people. Their choice could also have been influenced by the need to revenge for being bullied or for being social outcasts. This could be the benefit they gained from the crime which cost them death.


Hasday, J. L., (2013). Forty-nine minutes of madness: The Columbine High School shooting. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers.

Maguire, M. (2007). The Oxford handbook of criminology. Oxford [u.a.: Oxford Univ. Press.

Vito, G. F., & Maahs, J. R. (2017). Criminology: Theory, research, and policy. Burlington, Massachusetts : Jones & Bartlett Learning

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