Logan Smith was six years old.
Just a few minutes drive away from his Montessori school, a dozen students and one teacher were shot and killed at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. by two other students at the school. Another 21 were injured and the pair responsible, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, then killed themselves.
“Every school within probably 50 miles was put on lockdown,” said Smith, now a 20-year-old defenceman with the Langley Rivermen junior A hockey club.
“At the time, we we probably didn’t understand what was going on until we probably got a little bit older.”
Smith was talking to The Times on Monday morning, as he waited to catch a flight home to Littleton for the holidays.
According to U.S. media reports, there have been 30 mass shootings in the U.S. since the Columbine shooting, which happened on April 20, 1999.
The most recent happened on Friday (Dec. 14) when 27 people were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Twenty of the dead were children.
“It did have a huge impact on our entire community and in the area,” Smith said about the Columbine shooting.
His sixth grade teacher had a daughter at Columbine that day, although she was unharmed.
The shooting prompted action.
“I think the biggest thing wasn’t how schools changed, it was how they tried to enforce different firearms laws,” he said about longer waits before people can legally acquire firearms.
“The one thing Canadians need to understand is it is a (U.S.) constitutional right to bear arms,” Smith said.
“It is not like we can completely ban weapons. If you are 18, you can carry a firearm.
Smith himself does not own any firearms back home and he said not many people in Colorado carry guns, although some do.
“It is difficult growing up in that area knowing what has happened,” Smith said.
“Every time you drive by the school, it is a reminder that things like that happen.”