This article is part of a series on Guns in America that explores the use of firearms in our country and the debate over gun control. This is an editorially independent series sponsored by Tactical Firearms Training Secrets.
Evan Todd will never forget the day that Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris burst into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., intent on killing. How could he? He was the first student shot in the library during a massacre that claimed 12 students and one teacher and went down as one of the worst school assaults in U.S. history.
Since that terrifying day, Todd has been active and open about his views on social and political issues, including gun control. But rather than fight against weapons, he’s been vocal that he doesn’t believe firearms are the culprit. In fact, the survivor is so staunch that he tells TheBlaze he’s come to view gun control as “a theory that creates an illusion of safety, but unfortunately has devastating consequences in reality.”
Todd is joined by many others like Mark Mattioli, the father of a six-year-old Sandy Hook victim, Dr. Suzanna Hupp, a surviver of the “Luby” shooting massacre in Texas, and Richard Hoover, another survivor of Columbine, who also believe that restrictive policies are not the answer to stopping America’s violent rampages.
However, following large scale shootings, there’s traditionally a movement — especially among survivors — to call for increased legislative crackdowns. In fact, the history of U.S. firearms laws shows that the move for additional regulation has generally been a reaction to specific violent events.
On April 20, 1999, 12 students and one teacher were killed inside Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. The perpetrators, Klebold and Harris, were disgruntled students who had their hearts set on taking lives — a feat they so tragically succeeded at accomplishing. Today, Todd, who was shot inside of the school’s library, is a public speaker and advocate who regularly addresses social issues, including violence and the treatment of others, with audiences both young and old.
Todd explained that he sees increased regulation as only helping to curb guns among the law-abiding.
“It is evidently clear that gun control does not hinder the determined murderer from achieving their goals, whether that is at a school, a church or synagogue, or a movie theater,” he said in an e-mail interview with TheBlaze, going on to reference many of the murderers who have been responsible for some of the most recent and memorable acts of violence. “Thugs in Chicago do not care about the laws on the books nor did Harris, Klebold, Lanza, Dorner, Holmes, Cho, Hasan or any other of the criminals hell bent on murder.”
Rather than hampering criminals, Todd argues that new taxes, regulations and gun control measures actually do the opposite of what they intended. He believes that the law abiding suffer and are increasingly unable to protect themselves as a result of these policies.
Some may be surprised by his comments. After all, Todd is a victim of the Columbine massacre — an individual who lost numerous friends to gun violence. However, he told TheBlaze that his experience has shaped his views in support of the Second Amendment.
Todd also explained that guns had always been a part of his life — another factor that colors his views.
“At summer camps I would shoot skeet and trap with 12 gauge shotguns. In the backcountry of New Mexico I learned how to shot fifty caliber black powder rifles and flintlock pistols,” Todd said of his younger years. “In my free-time over the summers I would join with friends to take part in shooting competitions using everything from 22-caliber rifles to high powered rifles like the 30-06 and 300 Win Mag.”
The Columbine survivor said that, despite all of this exposure to guns, he never once thought about murdering someone. Guns, he noted, shouldn’t be blamed for crimes, as it is the character of the individuals who choose to commit murder that should be scrutinized.
In 1999, prior to the event, he was only 15-years-old and hadn’t given much thought to firearms control, but that soon changed.
“The one thing I learned from Columbine pertaining to gun control is that it is highly political,” he said. “When I actually educated myself on the issue it became increasingly clear that the gun control lobby and the politicians that share those views are in fact creating more problems than they solve.”
Not only is Todd vocal that he believes gun control simply doesn’t solve the problem, but he also sees restrictive policies as being potentially dangerous. In fact, he believes that gun control, if continuously progressed, will erode peoples’ right of self-protection and will lead to a scenario in which Columbine-like incidents could unfold more regularly on a national level.
“Criminals and murderers love defenseless people and they are enabled by the laws that create such environments,” Todd added. “Gun control is a blessing to those who wish to do evil and deadly to good people.”
Rather than targeting guns and law-abiding citizens, Todd believes that there’s another, more pertinent area for lawmakers and the general public to target: The nation’s lack of respect for life. He explained that politics have prevented schools and society as a whole from teaching the inherent dignity that every man, woman and child possesses, lamenting this as a potential cause of the chaos that has ensued.
“There is definitely a lack of respect for life and for political reasons schools and society at large have decided not to teach about the dignity of each and every man, women, and child,” he added, going on to note that evil truly exists and that it plays a role in the events that unfold in today’s society.
Todd believes that violence is best kept at bay by teaching young people about respect, particularly when it comes to human life, liberty and property. Teaching right from wrong and good versus evil infuses morals and values into young minds and inevitably helps to craft individuals into well-refined citizens, he argues. Additionally, he also wants to see gun-free zones banished and believes that parents and teachers have the right to protect themselves and their students.
As for the Second Amendment, he reveres its tenets and contends that it is vital to ensuring America’s freedom both at home and abroad.
“It is a deterrent for enemies abroad as well as tyrants at home. The Second Amendment isn’t a dictate from government — it is a statement to government,” he said. “It is a statement that says people have the right to defend life, liberty, and property from whomever wishes to unlawfully take it from them.”
Todd is well aware of President Barack Obama’s views on gun control. When asked what he would say to Obama if given the chance, he had many thoughts. From decrying universal background checks and claiming that they will have “many devastating effects,” to dismissing the proposed ban on military-style assault weapons, Todd was candid. Clearly disagreeing with increased control mechanisms, he implored Obama to “do the right thing — restorm freedom and save lives.”
Recent events have brought Todd’s feeling about these issues to the forefront, particularly following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December. Considering his own experience, TheBlaze asked him how he reacted when he first heard about the rampage.
“All I can say is truly sad, sick, and angry,” he said. “I still think about that community and pray for them regularly.”
Of course, it is this incident that not only brought memories back to Todd, but has also sparked a national debate about firearms control. And Todd isn’t alone in his rejection of increasingly restrictive laws. As noted, Mark Mattioli, whose six-year-old son James perished inside of Sandy Hook elementary, agrees with Todd’s assessment.
In a speech that subsequently went viral, the grieving father, who ended up receiving a standing ovation, said that he believes in “simple, few gun laws” and that there are already “more than enough on the books.” Mattioli maintained that “the problem is not gun laws” and that the regulations already on the books simply need to be enforced.
Then there’s Suzanna Hupp, who has advocated in support of concealed carry since she survived the “Luby” shooting in 1991. Her parents perished during the restaurant attack, leading Hupp to become an outspoken advocate for firearms, as she maintains that easier access to guns would have stopped the killer before he killed 23 innocents.
And Richard Hoover, a friend of Todd’s who also survived Columbine notes that the event reinforced his views that citizens should have the right to bear arms. Hoover said that he likes the idea of teachers having the right to carry. As far as legalities go, he told TheBlaze that Klebold and Harris had no regard for gun laws when they went on their rampage, breaking numerous regulations to carry out their attack.
“If you disarm citizen[s] then when [an unstable person] does obtain a weapon, gun control just prevented law abiding citizens from protecting themselves and there families,” he said.
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