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Foreign countries react to
Denver school shooting
■ The latest incident of high school
murders draws intense criticism of U.S.
gun laws from international leaders.
TOKYO (AP) - The deadly school shooting in suburban
Denver prompted calls Wednesday for tighter weapons con
trols in the United States, with Britain’s defense secretary urg
ing a ban on handguns.
In nearly all of Asia, the shooting topped news broadcasts
and was splashed on the front pages of newspapers. Pope
John Paul II said he was “deeply shocked,” while those who
three years ago experienced the tragedy of a lone gunman
shooting 16 kindergarten children and a teacher in the
Scottish town of Dunblane sounded a warning.
“I woke up this morning with a sense of horror that this
kind of gun tragedy can take place inside one of the most civ
ilized countries in the world,” British Defense Secretary
George Robertson, who lives near Dunblane, told the British
“I hope that they will look carefully at what this country
did in banning handguns after the Dunblane massacre, and I
hope we never have to wake up to this sort of news again from
TNeariy mi worm reacnon rocusea on me avauaomiy ox
weapons in the United States and the perceived lack of social
constraints that allowed teen-agers to turn on classmates.
In a telegram to die archbishop of Denver, the pope said
he hoped American society would react to the killings “by
committing itself to promoting and transmitting the moral
vision and die values, which alone can ensure respect for the
inviolable dignity of human life.”
In Yugoslavia, targeted again today by U.S. warplanes and
other NATO jets, the official Tanjug news agency said the
attack at the high school “proves that America is the country
The shootings in Colorado topped the news in Hong
Kong, Japan, New Delhi, Taiwan, Singapore and South
Korea. As in Europe, where gun controls are strict, many
reports focused on gun ownership.
Australia’s federal education minister, David Kemp, said
tighter gun laws in his country meant schoolyard massacres
were less likely.
“The ready availability of guns in the United States has
contributed to a culture where even very young people who
don’t have any obvious reason for possession of firearms
have got access to them,” Kemp said
Prime Minister John Howard of Australia said “it sickens
all of us when something like that happens. “
COLUMBME HIGH SCHOOL ninth grader Lam Moulton, 14,
is reunited with her mother, Kate Moulton, Ifcesday at
Leawood Elementary School where parents were sent to
wait for their children. The Moultons were reunited more
than two hours after the incident at nearby Columbine High
School Hi Littleton, Colo. (Photo by Mart Reis -KRT)
And in Japan, the Colorado killings called to mind a
shooting attributed to loose American gun laws. Mieko
Hattori, the mother of a 16-year-old exchange student shot
dead in Louisiana in 1992 while looking for a Halloween
party, hoped die killings would finally serve as a wake-up call
for tighter gun control laws.
“Guns are still everywhere; even a high school student
can get them,” the Asahi newspaper quoted ha- assaying.
Itaru Arizono, a Japanese education expert, said: “the No.
1 problem is that guns are so easy to get in the United States,
even by youngsters.”
Local officials aware of danger
SCHOOLS from page 1
thing similar could happen here.
“I don’t know if this is a trend, but it
is scary,” 16-year-old sophomore
Rusty Lang said.
Lang said the general atmosphere
at Lincoln High made him think such a
shooting was possible.
“It’s probably more likely here than
any other school in Lincoln.”
Other students agreed.
“It could probably happen,” 17
year-old junior Tad Lyle said. “That’s
the type of people there are here.”
Lincoln police officers work close
ly with schools to prevent problems,
Lincoln Police ChiefTom Casady said.
Eight officers are assigned to
Lincoln high schools and junior highs
where they are in charge of investigat
ing all crimes, maintaining the flow of
communication and assisting teachers
and administrators in any way possi
ble, Casady said.
The school is essentially an offi
cers’ full-time neighborhood beat,
“This is certainly not a panacea,
but it is a help,” Casady said.
And the schools have also taken
security precautions, including hiring
campus supervisors to maintain secu
But Casady said many of these
tilings were likely in place in Littleton,
Colo., where the shootings happened
“If it can happen at the U.S.
Capitol,” Casady said, “ it can happen
at any local high school.”
Gov. Mike Johanns said
Wednesday he Will push for stiffer
dress codes at schools, including uni
forms. Johanns said he also supports
efforts to give Nebraska teachers more
ability to discipline unruly students.
Unfortunately, UNL is no stranger
to this type of violence, University
Police Chief Ken Cauble said.
In the fall of 1992, a student
walked into a classroom with a semi
automatic rifle and tried to open fire.
He was stopped short when the gun
And in the fall of 1994, a student
opened fire on a University Police offi
cer, wounding him before leading
police on a cross-town chase.
“I’m not sure you can ever prevent
these,” Cauble said “We try to educate
people to notice when things are not
going right and get to people sooner.”
The shootings at Columbine High
School on Tuesday should serve as a
reminder for schools, communities
and parents to be involved in the lives
of all students, Johanns said
On Monday and Tuesday, the
Midwest Crime Conference is spon
soring a seminar in Lincoln on school
violence, featuring two speakers who
worked at last year’s Jonesboro, Ark.,
shooting. Police from Iowa, Kansas
and Nebraska have been invited, as
well as crisis management personnel
and victims’ advocates.
Jon Briggs, president of the confer
ence, said next week’s theme was
planned months ago.
“Obviously, I’m sorry about what
happened in Colorado, but it under
scores the importance of this confer
ence,” he said. “This is a situation that
society will have to face more and
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Death penalty bill
DEATH from page 1
Racial disparity in applying the
death penalty has been one of Omaha
Sen. Ernie Chambers’ arguments
against the death penalty. Of the 10
men on death row, eight are white, one
is black and one is American Indian.
Under LB76, the effect of race on
death sentencing would be one of the
factors studied by the commission.
But death penalty supporters said
LB76 could lead to die death penalty’s
abolition, while other senators said
death is sometimes the most appropri
ate punishment for murder.
Chambers, the bill’s sponsor, has ,
introduced a bill to abolish the death
penalty every year since he came to
the Legislature in 1970. It actually
passed narrowly in 1979, but was
vetoed by then-Gov. Charles Thone.
LB76 faces an uphill battle in a
state where senators said the death
penalty has strong support - perhaps
70 percent or more.
Sen. Carol Hudkins said she sent
out thousands of informal surveys to
constituents asking if they supported
die death penalty. Ninety-one percent
of the 800 people who responded
favored capital punishment
The usually quiet Malcolm sena
tor told her colleagues about a scary
wintry day in March 1985 when she
found out her brother had been mur
dered in Lincoln.
After her brother’s death, the mur
derer committed suicide.
She reminded senators that each
lawmaker brought their own experi
ences into the debate. Personal experi
ence can influence their vote, as her
experiences influenced her vote
“Victims are not just the people
who die,” she said “I’m a victim.”
Sen. Gene Tyson of Norfolk
spoke along similar lines.
“We should value the victim’s
lives more than we do those of their
killers” he said. “One way we can do
this is maintain the status quo.”
Tyson said although the current
version of LB76 no longer abolished
the death penalty, he abolition would
not support it because he didn’t
believe die current law was wrong.
“The character of LB76 has sub
stantially changed, and I don’t think
that matters,” Tyson said. “We are
going to look at figures that have been
looked at over and over again.”
Statistics and studies can be
manipulated for each side’s purpose,
“It really comes down to whether
you believe in the efficacy and the jus
tice of die death penalty, or you don’t,”
he said “You’re either for it or against
Victims are not just
the people who die.
I'm a victim
But Chambers chided Tyson for
this comment saying a fair debate on
the death penalty should include any
evidence of unfairness in the process.
“You shouldn’t reduce it to a sim
ple-minded approach where you say
you’re either for it or against it, no
matter how unjustly it might be imple
mented,” he said.
Omaha Sen. Jon Bruning tried
blocking the moratorium during
morning debate. He said supporters
intended the bill as a first step toward
eliminating the death penalty.
The 10 people now on death row
deserve to be there, he said.
“There is a real easy way to avoid
getting the death penalty,” he said.
“Don’t kill anyone else.”
Sen. John Hilgert of Omaha dis
agreed with Bruning, saying the bill
was unlikely to lead to the elimination
of the death penalty. If, however, the
study showed inequality in death sen
tencing, the Legislature should want
to know this information, not sup
press it, he said.
umana sen. permit orasnear,
who supports the bill, said he favors
the death penalty, but only if it is
applied fairly. Brashear is chairman of
the Judiciary Committee, which pro
duced the moratorium amendment
“This is not about the repeal of the
death penalty,” he said. “This is about
the administration of laws in such a
manner that they are just - that they
are fairly administrated.”
The moratorium and the study
were originally set at three years.
Under the amendment, the study
would last two years, but more staff
would be devoted to the study.
The Nebraska Crime
Commission would review and ana
lyze all criminal homicide cases since
1973. The commission would look at
several factors: die facts of the case,
including mitigating and aggravating
circumstances, race, gender, religious
preference, economic status of defen
dant and victim, charges filed, result
of judicial proceeding in each case
and sentence imposed.
Staff writer Shane Anthony
(Contributed to this report
Earth Day events planned
By Veronica Daehn
The eighth annual UNL Earth Day
celebration begins today on the
University of Nebraska-Lincoln cam
Activities begin at 9 a.m. and con
tinue throughout the day until 5 p.m.
Information booths, activities and
food will be available at the all-day
event held on the plaza and greenspace
north of the Nebraska Union.
Acoustic music will be provided
during the day, and amplified music
will continue from 3:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Sponsored by Ecology Now! and
the UNL Environmental Resource
Center Coalition, this year’s Earth Day
theme is “Step Lightly cm the Earth.”
The event is free and open to the
The Earth Day celebration contin
ues Friday with a satellite video confer
ence called “Greening the Campus.”
Sponsored by the UNL
Environmental Resource Center, the
event will take place from 1 to 2:30
p.m. in the Nebraska Union auditori
The “greening” of college campus
es, increasing plant life for environ
mental benefit and economic efficien
cy, will be discussed at this national
Because of a reporting error, the following statement was misattributed to Sen.
Gerald Matzke of Sidney on Wednesday. Sol Jon Bruning of Omaha said the fol
lowing in reference to the death penalty and the Colorado high school shootings:
“I couldn’t sleep at night if I knew somebody was on this Earth who did that to
another person,” he said in reference to die shooting.
“I’m not proud of the death penalty,” he said. “But I think! it serves a purpose.”
He would support a study, he said, but he wondered why die moratorium would be
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