to hunt, they admit, but people are generally responsible and furthermore “it is not guns, but people, that kill.” Some also argue that guns are prevalent in all rural communities, North and South. The distinction therefore should be made between rural and urban, not between the North and the South.

We found no conclusive evidence to support or discount either claim, but it is clear that Mitchell and Andrew were able to access an arsenal of weapons for this crime. While most of the Goldens’ weapons were secured—either in a safe or by a cable—Mitchell and Andrew were able to access more than enough firepower for the shooting. While it is impossible to know the impact that trigger locks might have had, none of the weapons was equipped with them. After this tragedy, civil suits were mounted by the victims’ families against the gun manufacturers, and some of them lobbied for trigger locks. Most of the youth we spoke with thought it would be pretty easy to get a gun if they wanted one.

Andrew’s proficiency with handling weapons has already been noted; according to media accounts, he was given a rifle for his sixth birthday and had other weapons of his own as well. Andrew was fascinated, possibly obsessed with guns; some teachers say it was his toy of choice as a young child, and the year of the shooting, he drew a picture of two rifles when asked to draw something that symbolized his family for his social studies class; he even did a skit about guns for his English class.

Mitchell was not as skilled with guns, but when officers apprehended him after the shooting, Mitchell was carrying his hunter education card in his coat pocket. Mitchell had access to a gun for hunting purposes, but because his stepfather had been convicted of a felony and was not allowed to have weapons in his home, the gun was stored with a neighbor and was not used for the shooting.

Exposure to Media Violence or Media Coverage

Many residents of the community where the shooting occurred believe that the media’s glamorization of violence in general and of school shootings in particular fuel these types of incidents, if not this specific tragedy. Children are influenced by what they see and hear and become desensitized to excessive media violence. In their view, it is no longer a question of simply monitoring what your own children watch; they now fear what the neighbor’s child is exposed to because they know all too well that other people’s problems can quickly become their own.

What role media violence played in this particular shooting is unclear. According to friends, Mitchell played violent video games, including a shooting game, at friends’ houses but did not have access to them at home; his family was too poor. His mother said that he owned



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