On 27 May 1999 — a month after the shocking massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, in which two students shot 12 other students and a teacher to death and wounded another 25 people — the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on crime held hearings on “Pending Firearms Legislation and the Administration’s Enforcement of Current Gun Laws.”
Among those who made or presented statements to the subcommittee that day were Eric H. Holder, Jr., a Deputy Attorney General with the Department of Justice; James E. Johnson, an Under Secretary for Enforcement with the Department of the Treasury; Darrell Scott, the father of two victims of the Columbine High School shootings (one of whom, his daughter Rachel Joy Scott, was killed); David Grossmann, a retired Ohio juvenile court judge; Dr. John R. Lott, Jr., a law and economics professor at the University of Chicago’s School of Law; Wayne LaPierre, an Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association; James E. Chambers, an Executive Director of the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute; David M. Kennedy, a Senior Researcher with the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University; Gerald Flynn, a National Vice President of the International Brotherhood of Police; and Bryl Phillips-Taylor from Virginians Against Handgun Violence.
Darrell Scott offered a statement to the committee which was wide reproduced online in the following form:
On Thursday, May 27, 1999, Darrell Scott, the father of Rachel Scott, a victim of the Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, Colorado, was invited to address the House Judiciary Committee’s sub-committee. What he said to our national leaders during this special session of Congress was painfully truthful. They were not prepared for what he was to say, nor was it received well. It needs to be heard by every parent, every teacher, every politician, every sociologist, every psychologist, and every so-called expert! These courageous words spoken by Darrell Scott are powerful, penetrating, and deeply personal. There is no doubt that God sent this man as a voice crying in the wilderness. The following is a portion of the transcript:
Since the dawn of creation there has been both good and evil in the hearts of men and women. We all contain the seeds of kindness or the seeds of violence.
The death of my wonderful daughter, Rachel Joy Scott, and the deaths of that heroic teacher and the other eleven children who died must not be in vain. Their blood cries out for answers.
The first recorded act of violence was when Cain slew his brother Abel out in the field. The villain was not the club he used. Neither was it the NCA, the National Club Association. The true killer was Cain, and the reason for the murder could only be found in Cain’s heart.
In the days that followed the Columbine tragedy, I was amazed at how quickly fingers began to be pointed at groups such as the NRA. I am not a member of the NRA.
I am not a hunter. I do not even own a gun. I am not here to represent or defend the NRA — because I don’t believe that they are responsible for my daughter’s death. Therefore I do not believe they need to be defended. If I believed they had anything to do with Rachel’s murder I would be their strongest opponent.
I am here today to declare that Columbine was not just a tragedy — it was a spiritual event that should be forcing us to look at where the real blame lies!
Much of the blame lies here in this room. Much of the blame lies behind the pointing fingers of the accusers themselves.
I wrote a poem just four nights ago that expresses my feelings best. This was written way before I knew I would be speaking here today:
Your laws ignore our deepest needs
Your words are empty air
You’ve stripped away our heritage
You’ve outlawed simple prayer
Now gunshots fill our classrooms
And precious children die
You seek for answers everywhere
And ask the question “Why”?
You regulate restrictive laws
Through legislative creed
And yet you fail to understand
That God is what we need
Men and women are three-part beings. We all consist of body, soul, and spirit. When we refuse to acknowledge a third part of our make-up, we create a void that allows evil, prejudice, and hatred to rush in and wreak havoc.
Spiritual influences were present within our educational systems for most of our nation’s history. Many of our major colleges began as theological seminaries. This is a historical fact. What has happened to us as a nation? We have refused to honor God, and in so doing, we open the doors to hatred and violence.
And when something as terrible as Columbine’s tragedy occurs — politicians immediately look for a scapegoat such as the NRA. They immediately seek to pass more restrictive laws that contribute to erode away our personal and private liberties.
We do not need more restrictive laws. Eric and Dylan would not have been stopped by metal detectors. No amount of gun laws can stop someone who spends months planning this type of massacre.
The real villain lies within our own hearts.
Political posturing and restrictive legislation are not the answers.
The young people of our nation hold the key. There is a spiritual awakening taking place that will not be squelched!
We do not need more religion. We do not need more gaudy television evangelists spewing out verbal religious garbage. We do not need more million dollar church buildings built while people with basic needs are being ignored.
We do need a change of heart and a humble acknowledgment that this nation was founded on the principle of simple trust in God!
As my son Craig lay under that table in the school library and saw his two friends murdered before his very eyes — He did not hesitate to pray in school. I defy any law or politician to deny him that right!
I challenge every young person in America, and around the world, to realize that on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School prayer was brought back to our schools. Do not let the many prayers offered by those students be in vain.
Dare to move into the new millennium with a sacred disregard for legislation that violates your God-given right to communicate with Him.
To those of you who would point your finger at the NRA I give to you a sincere challenge. Dare to examine your own heart before casting the first stone!
My daughter’s death will not be in vain! The young people of this country will not allow that to happen!
Be courageous enough to do what the media did not — let the nation hear this man’s speech. Please send this out to everyone you can!!!
As transcripts of the proceedings demonstrate, Darrell Scott did make the statement attributed to him in the account reproduced above, but virtually everything framing his statement in that account is false. Mr. Scott wasn’t speaking to national leaders present at a “special session of Congress,” people who were “not prepared for what he was to say” and “did not receive it well.” He was one of eight people who presented statements to a small House subcommittee meeting in an office building, and his statement wasn’t received differently than any of the others, nor did it prompt outrage from an unreceptive audience. Moreover, unlike the other persons who testified before the Congressional subcommittee that day, Mr. Scott presented no facts or statistics relating to the issues of gun control and gun law enforcement; he merely gave his opinion that gun control laws wouldn’t have stopped the Columbine High School shootings and that those shootings were somehow related to a lack of religion in schools (repeating along the way the erroneous claim that prayer has been “outlawed” in schools).
Another parent who lost a child to a school-related shooting, Byrl Phillips-Taylor, testified after Darrell Scott and offered the opposite opinion: a lack of controls on the sale of assault weapons, Ms. Phillips-Taylor maintained, had led to the shooting death of her son.
Finally, contrary to the coda of the e-mailed account, the “media” did not prevent anyone from hearing Darrell Scott’s words. The subcommittee hearing at which he spoke was covered by the Associated Press and reported in several big-city newspapers; in fact, due to intense media interest regarding everything related to the then-recent Columbine shootings, the event actually received much more general media coverage than a House subcommittee hearing typically would have.