[Opinion] Never Again, Until Next Time

By Jori O'Grady

The United States prides itself as the greatest nation in the world, yet no other first world country fears their kids getting shot up at school.

In Colorado, the month of April is final countdown month, as well as the month of prom, SAT and ACT, play performances, art shows, music galas, soccer, and lacrosse games, and also the anniversary of Columbine.

April 20th marks the 20th anniversary of the harrowing Columbine shooting. In 1999, it was the deadliest school shooting, murdering 12 students, one teacher, and injuring, scarring, and impairing countless others both physically and emotionally.

20 years later, it's not even in the top ten deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history

Since Columbine, there have been more than 245 recorded mass school shootings. A year ago, it was reported that over 226,000 students, in the last 19 years, have experienced gun violence in their schools. And legislation has done nothing, well, except for sending countless thoughts and prayers.

The infamous shooting forever shook America citizens to their core, and unfortunately  inspired its’ fatal predecessors.

After Columbine, an online fanbase formed: the true crime community, a fanbase in which young people, allured by violence and suicide, post about harming others and themselves. The fanbase idolizes school shooters, their investigation records, school blueprints, writings and art from the past shooters, and even some glorify Nazis and Hitler. After the Parkland shooting, the fanbase grew rapidly, residing on social media blogs and forums like Tumblr, Discord, and Reddit.

In November, Tumblr initiated a ban on pornography--of which was about one-fifth of Tumblr's content--yet Tumblr has no ban on this sick true crime fandom.

As the anniversary approaches, Columbine high school has already suffered from an influx of threats, many coming from the deluded members of this fandom, in hope to recreate the gruesome event.

On Tuesday, April 16th, a Columbine infatuated 18-year-old woman triggered secure perimeter lockouts and after school activity and athletic cancellation in Denver metro school districts. On Wednesday, her concerning presence and nonspecific threats caused more than sixteen school districts across not only just Denver, but some northern and southern parts of Colorado to be closed.

At Grandview, this included canceling the art show, stifling all preparations and severely delaying the already behind Odd Couple performances.

America has sunk so low that we have reached the point of canceling an entire region’s day of school, all because of our right to bear arms.

And with her right to bear arms, a mentally-ill high school senior and Columbine obsessed fangirl, purchased a pump-action shotgun--similar fashion to the Columbine shooters-- and ammunition--immediately after her arrival in Colorado.

This teenager was able to fly from Florida, walk into a local gun shop, pass FBI background checks, and walk out. All in one day, despite her concerning online presence on her blog and on gun forums--of which she sought advice on how to obtain a gun in Colorado.

Oh, and this was absolutely 100%  legal for her to do so. Just like it was legal for the 19 year old Parkland shooter to purchase an AR-15, with no fingerprints, no special permit and training, and no waiting period. All they needed was a couple hundred bucks.

Why?

Because “it’s their 2nd amendment right” says the fat men of the NRA with their cumbersome fingers in the deep pockets of countless lawmakers and congressman. Says the men who pour millions of dollars into our elections, handpicking a congress to turn a blind eye to gun violence. Violence that occurs on a broad spectrum of backgrounds everywhere in our country.

They turn a blind eye to the pleas of fearful teenagers, of the broken hearts of the families who have been affected by gun violence that all want to simply enact gun control legislation, so an 18-year-old with clear mental health issues from another state can't buy a plane ticket, a shotgun, and hold an entire city hostage.

It’s time to drop our partisan biases. It’s a fact that people kill people, and these people, guided by their mental illnesses, are too easily able to purchase assault weapons that enable mass homicides. An application process, a gun permit, then a gun license, and extensive background checks should be required. And after obtained, mental health checkups should be legally required for gun owners in order to renew their licenses.

As a student who has grown up post-Columbine, Tuesday's threat was normal. In the year after Parkland, there was nearly one mass shooting a day. Grandview receiving gun related and bomb-related threats is normal; Grandview enacting a secure perimeter is normal. Kids unsure if they are going to be safe, while taking a biology test is normal. School shootings are normal.

When did “never again” become desensitization?

Wednesday, the city was shut down like a snow day, despite the spring weather. Parents explained to their kids, as young as three years old, why they couldn't go to school on Wednesday, and if our legislation continues to ignore this epidemic, those preschoolers will grow up preparing for their school to be next.

21 comments

  1. Ryan 18 April, 2019 at 13:42 Reply

    Realistically, The second amendment historically is why our home land hasn’t been attacked with the exception of 9/11. A Japanese General in WWII refused to attack our homeland because he said “there is a rifle behind every blade of grass” This is credible on U.S. History.com. Now the 18 year old was incredibly stupid for her actions, but in the article it was stated she was mentally ill. There was no credible source that labeled her mentally ill to my knowledge. She knew exactly what she was doing. Thank God she failed. But with no sources sited this makes me and other readers who are pro second amendment, that a lot of the data and statistics are not credible. School was cancelled for our safety not because we were being held hostage. Evan Todd who was in the Columbine massacre believes the only way to slow down gun violence is to arm some teachers and security guards according to their own digression. You can look up Evan Todd on google and watch his video on the news. Also gun violence unfortunately will never come to a complete stop because we live in a broken and messed up society. So blaming others such as “Fat men at the NRA” is incredibly inappropriate. It is unprofessional and childish. We should really blame how these people who purchase the weapons because all of them know exactly what they are doing when/if the crime is committed. We should educate ALL citizens in the US about guns and gun laws.

  2. Anonymous 18 April, 2019 at 14:20 Reply

    Yes, Columbine is horrifying. Yes, every shooting and every death from gun violence since then is horrifying. The FBI dropped the ball on the Parkland shooting ( had multiple threats and didn’t take any action) and dropped the ball yet again with the most recent Colorado threat (she was tagged by the FBI already due to her online activity, which should have come up in the background check). But I don’t see a solution. Completely banning guns is obviously not very possible and echoes of actions taken by totalitarian governments such as Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia. Creating stronger background checks doesn’t seem as if it would help since there are cases of people legally getting guns when they should not have been able to. Anyways, there’s always the black market or stealing from a friend/family member. And EVEN IF a mentally ill person was not able to obtain a gun, just as much if not more damage could be done by planted homemade bombs or simply driving a car through a crowd of students getting out of school.

    There is an issue here. Yet most of it is not rooted in guns. I believe that it is mental health that is being called into question here, something no background check can truly confirm or deem unstable, and there’s not much that can be done to stop mentally ill people from idealizing, worshipping, or being infatuated with heinous people or acts. Or trying to recreate them.

    Part of the reality of living in the US is that this precedent has been set for us and our population is that our shooting rates will be higher than some other countries simply because of that. It’s too late to rip the guns out of every citizen’s hands. It’s too late to change our past

    Maybe it’s more simple to solve or at least alleviate the cause of the most gun deaths in the country; gang on gang crime. It’s not a simple issue, but at least there’s more of a substantial route to take than preventing any more mass shootings.

    Because the sad reality is, not everything has a solution.

      • Conor 1 May, 2019 at 09:49 Reply

        Um… Um… London has the highest amount of muggings in the world, guns are banned there. Violence wont stop with the banning of guns, it will only take a new form. Have you ever heard of acid attacks. Apparently not THAT IS IGNORANT LMAO

        Your welcome to contact me in person if you would like to talk to me further on this matter

    • Anonymous 22 April, 2019 at 09:28 Reply

      “Completely banning guns is obviously not very possible and echoes of actions taken by totalitarian governments such as Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia.”

      Can you define “obviously not very possible” because it could very well be possible. Not only that, but comparing a law to the actions of totalitarian governments is a strawman argument that presumes that if you implement these laws, you automatically become a totalitarian government. This is just blatantly false. Did you also know that Hitler made laws to protect animals? Does that mean that people who advocate for animal rights are automatically supporting Nazi Germany and echoing actions of a totalitarian government? The obvious answer is no.

      Plus, even if we do presume that taking away guns is an act similar to those of Nazi German or Soviet Russian actions, the intent of taking away said guns is not for the purpose of control. There have been way too many school shootings in the United States, the most deadly killing 32 and being deemed a massacre. To say taking away guns is echoing totalitarian is so incredibly unrelated and just a flimsy argument.

      “Creating stronger background checks doesn’t seem as if it would help since there are cases of people legally getting guns when they should not have been able to.”

      This seems to be a go-to argument for a lot of people, but I really don’t see how it stands up at all. It’s similar to saying “Why forbid murder, people are going to do it anyway when they’re not supposed to?” That logic is incredibly weird and backwards. The problem is that mentally unstable people do have access to guns, even when they’re being watched by the FBI, which is clearly a problem. You said yourself that the woman was being looked after by the FBI yet she still managed to obtain a gun. Legally. If she hypothetically wasn’t able to purchase the gun due to the background check, then she wouldn’t have been able to obtain one. It’s really as simple as that.

      Your statement also almost seems to imply it’s easy to just steal a gun or buy it from the black market. I might not be an average person, but I certainly do not know of any local black markets in my area that I can just stroll into a buy a gun, and I highly doubt an 18 year old girl would be able to know either. The point is that she did buy it legally, and the fact that she was able to buy it legally is horrifying because it became a threat. Simply ignoring that by saying “well they could get it anyway if it’s illegal” is naive and circular reasoning.

      “just as much if not more damage could be done by planted homemade bombs or simply driving a car through a crowd of students getting out of school.”

      I have no idea where you got this information from. Let’s first look into cars. In the Charlottesville rally, a man drove into a crowd of people, ramming them down. The death toll was three. As for homemade bombs, which I’m going to guess you’re referring to pipe bombs(?), which were mostly used in Ireland in the 1990’s by loyalist paramilitaries. In terms of actual attacks, in 2010 there was a person in Sweden who set off 6 pipe bombs, killing himself. No other casualties were recording from said attack. In 2018, multiple opposers of Donald Trump were sent pipe bombs in their mail. The death toll? Zero. It was so unsuccessful, in fact, it was deemed an “attempt” rather than an actual attack. Those are the most recent attacks I can find using a pipe bomb, so I don’t know why you would say this blatantly false statement. I know that cars and bombs sound very deadly when used as a weapon, but there have been not nearly as many deaths from those as there have been from guns. (I mean, even then, you have to release the reason that soldiers use guns rather than pipe bombs and cars is because they’re more deadly than these things. If they were more successful killers than guns, they would be used in instances where guns are purposefully meant to kill people)

      “and there’s not much that can be done to stop mentally ill people from idealizing, worshipping, or being infatuated with heinous people or acts. Or trying to recreate them.”

      Yes, we can’t stopped mentally unstable people from idealizing people. What we can do is prevent them from getting weapons to go through with such attacks. That’s why people are calling for stricter weapon laws. I would also even argue that there are ways to stop idealisation to the best of our abilities. For instance, the shooter in New Zealand was never given a name to prevent him from getting any further attention. In the United States, shooters’ names are plastered all over the news and on social media. People are often so obsessed with doing this, that they sometimes get the wrong face, like in the instance of the Eggman Shooter, where 4chan tricked news sites into believing that an innocent man named Toby Reynolds was the Oregon shooter. The fact is that news sites glorify shooters and it’s pretty pathetic that we do so, but I disagree with your statement that it can’t be stopped to at least a degree.

      “I believe that it is mental health that is being called into question here, something no background check can truly confirm or deem unstable”

      Yes, it can. If people had to go through extensive background tests and checks from psychologists, unstable people getting a gun wouldn’t be an issue. My own bipolar, abusive, unstable, and narcissistic parent managed to get ahold of a gun, which they carried everywhere with them, even into places it was illegal to do so, despite them not being stable. This horrified me because I felt threatened and I didn’t know if they were going to pull it out and shoot someone. The fact is that, if the background check was more extensive, they would’ve been able to see their diagnosis of these mental illnesses and not have access to a deadly weapon. Releasing of a mental health record would be infinitely helpful in ensuring that person is not prone to violence or mental illness. Have they been arrested within ten years of trying to get access to a gun? Don’t give them a gun. Do they have a mental illness that could make them prone to hurting themself or others? Don’t give them a gun. Have they ever tried to kill themself or others? Don’t give them a gun.

      “Part of the reality of living in the US is that this precedent has been set for us and our population is that our shooting rates will be higher than some other countries simply because of that. It’s too late to rip the guns out of every citizen’s hands. It’s too late to change our past”

      So you admit that guns are deadly but that enabling strong gun laws would just be too difficult? This is an incredibly weird statement. The reason that it would be difficult to pry away guns is because we continuously bring up gun laws, dangle the idea that we’re going to get stricter gun laws over our head, then forget about it within a month. I’m sure people whose family or friends were shot in a shooting wouldn’t exactly be content with the argument that it would be too difficult. It’s the same argument that people make when reasoning that we shouldn’t be dealing with global warning. Dealing with it will be difficult, but starting later and procrastinating on it is just going to make it progressively harder.

      “Maybe it’s more simple to solve or at least alleviate the cause of the most gun deaths in the country; gang on gang crime. It’s not a simple issue, but at least there’s more of a substantial route to take than preventing any more mass shootings.”

      This isn’t related to anything to do with school shootings or mass shootings. This is straight up irrelevant and off topic. You bring this up as though we just need to ignore young children getting shot and instead focus on something else because it’s deadlier. I agree, we need to work on gang-on-gang violence, but the difference there is that I don’t think anyone goes into a gang to get an education with the presumption that they’re going to be safe. School is meant to be a safe place, so the fact children are dying there is horrifying. The difference between saying “People die in gangs” and “People die in schools” is very obvious, since gangs are considered not safe places and schools are. Trying to relate gangs to schools, even then, is unfair, and also off topic. Trying to swerve around the topic with a different topic is not a good argument. In fact, it’s not an argument at all, it’s just a complete aversion of a related argument.

  3. Lain Iwakura 18 April, 2019 at 21:21 Reply

    Literally every time this topic gets brought up it always comes back to mental health because neither side of the gun control debate ever actually creates a coherent statistical analysis on the issue. The truth is that this a massively multi-faceted topic, involving not just gun laws but the entire culture surrounding these events, both on the level of the communities (small and large) that create them and how the public responds. Without making a massive meta-analysis on this whole subject these articles are never going to be productive, and at best reduce down to mental health and at worst baseless clashes of pure ideology. Personally I agree with your reasoning here, but only because I’m a moron who can’t follow her own advice and think about this in a productive way. If you want to really understand and hope to prevent things like this, complex psychoanalyses are neccessary. For that purpose, I highly recommend reading things like Elliot Roger’s “My Twisted World,” and whatever other things get left behind as explanations for what shooters do what they do.

  4. Isabel 18 April, 2019 at 21:30 Reply

    Here’s where you’re wrong: no part of gun reform involves either disarming the US militia or a total ban of firearms. And your source that a japanese general claimed not to be inclined to attack the United States because ‘there’s a rifle behind every blade of grass’ has very little to do with the fact that the everyday citizen over the age of 18 can purchase any type of firearm with little to no mitigation. We attacked Japan with 2 nuclear attacks, his statement is a reference to the extremes the United States will go to. Especially considering that things change in a modern society, allowing every and any citizen whatever armaments they desire will do absolutely nothing to deter other sovereign nations from initiating an attack. In fact, the United States is a source of ridicule for our adamant refusal to enact any stricter gun control. Other countries don’t quake in their boots like you claim because we’re all bristling with weapons, they scorn us for our stupidity. And I would do the same, I do the same to people like you. Your opinions is allowing people like the (in fact quite verifiably mentally ill Sol Pais, whose behaviour was analyzed by psychiatrists and confirmed by her parents). If you want to find credible sources for the statistics stated in the article are linked to the article they were drawn from. You are welcome to verify the information yourself. Evan Todd is one individual, and his opinion on a very unreliable source of defense is not any more credible than yours, or those supported by facts and statistics. Gun violence will never come to a complete halt, but evidence in many many countries that implemented stricter gun laws have seen a DRASTIC reduction in gun violence. It would not be difficult or expensive. New Zealand passed gun control in a weekend. We are merited for blaming the disgusting members of the NRA for buying out our politicians, devaluing our lives, YOUR life to $1.05. A human life is priceless, the life of an elementary schooler who can’t yet tie her shoes, the life of a middle schooler who hasn’t yet realized that AXE is maybe not a suitable replacement for a shower, the life of a very overwhelmed are each worth more than one singular opinion like yours advocating for the defense of these violent and easily attainable weapons. It is childish for you to ignore the facts, deeply and evidently verifiable by facts and evidence that gun reform wouldn’t save lives. And if you advocate against a life saving policy, you aid the killer. The Sol Pais. The Nikolas Cruz. The Eric Harris. If you are going to claim advocacy for the policies that have taken the lives of innocent children you cannot claim to advocate for their lives. But if you can show me a way you can protect the lives of the innocent with your ‘thoughts and prayers’ I would damn well love to hear it.

    • Conor 1 May, 2019 at 09:53 Reply

      Here is where you’re wrong. Even if the mentally ill people were not able to purchase guns legally, nothing is stopping them from purchasing illegal guns. Gun reforms only stop good people from protecting themselves.

  5. Andrew Spiers 19 April, 2019 at 08:34 Reply

    This is an incredibly intellectually dishonest article filled with fallacies. A nice little jab at the NRA men was really made me think your opinion was credible.

    Ever notice how when the FBI, Police and security officers did their job, Pais did nothing to harm anyone? What happened in Florida? The FBI failed to visit Cruz 18 times. But guns are the issue? Why have you advocated to infringe on 2A rights, when 80% of gun crimes are committed with an illegal weapon?

    FBI got tip on alleged Florida shooter Nikolas Cruz in January, but didn’t ‘follow protocols’–CBS News https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/fbi-got-tip-parkland-shooter-nikolas-cruz-january-didn-t-n848681

    Washington Post: They found that in approximately 8 out of 10 cases, the perpetrator was not a lawful gun owner but rather in illegal possession of a weapon that belonged to someone else. SOURCE: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/07/27/new-evidence-confirms-what-gun-rights-advocates-have-been-saying-for-a-long-time-about-crime/?utm_term=.6e56c2fd3360

    I am disappointed that the staff affiliated with this website would allow such an intellectually dishonest hit piece.

    • Jori 19 April, 2019 at 23:53 Reply

      Andrew, I think you bring up some really interesting points about who should take blame. I want to make it clear, that while my article uses a, I guess, distasteful tone towards guns and the NRA, and it can be easily inferred that I don’t like guns, (Wow shocker) my article focuses on how easy pais and cruz obtained guns legally. I do not blame guns. In fact I agree that the issue on gun violence isn’t the gun itself necessarily. What was most unsettling to me, was how the fbi was aware of pais’s online presence, yet she passed the fbi’s background check at the local gun store. Two things: what does that say about our fbi? And what does it say about the fbi background check? It obviously checks for criminal records which pais didn’t have, but it seems to not check your online footprint. Pais had a blog that had her name written all over it. You probably could have found that blog by just simply searching her name. While I don’t believe in infringing on anyone’s first amendment rights, her first amendment rights, even though they were legal, should have been acknowledged in order to guarantee her second amendment rights, and should have been red flags immediately, but it was not. Security, police, and the fbi all did their job, yet when a 18 year old 5’5 women was loose with a legal gun, half a million students were not able to go to school. She should have never gotten the gun in the first place if at least the fbi background check was updated.
      Second you being up a great point about how much higher illegal weapon possession crime rights are than legal crime rates. (And I really appreciate you including creditable sources)
      However, there’s some interesting fallacies that come with these statistics.
      First, I assume since the pie chart had no specific breakdown that the data includes all crime. So that would include suicide, robbery, domestic assault, and of course gang related violence. While gun violence does not exclude by income, redlined cities in the United States are high contributors to these statistics, as they are more likely to have higher crime (higher incarcerated crime) and are more likely to have illegally obtained/stolen/purchased guns on a black market. While this evidence supports a valid point, the fact is, it is too broad, especially when numbers are both skewed by classism and race, and when numbers of gun violence in our country is at such a high due to the influx of guns, the “need for one,” lack of education, and gun accessibility.

      “All guns start out as legal guns”

      But let’s focus on mass shootings.
      According to https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/national/mass-shootings-in-america/?utm_term=.6eac2f6dfa86&noredirect=on
      Out of 309 guns:
      “Shooters often carried more than one weapon; one was found with 24. At least 171 of mass shooters’ weapons were obtained legally and 59 were obtained illegally. It’s unclear how 79 weapons were acquired. “

      If I did my math right, that means at least around 60% of guns used in mass shootings were obtained legally.

      So, no, guns aren’t the problem, but we live in a society that enables guns to cause an easy problem. In the “never again” argument we love to bring up “well this doesn’t happen in other counties because they banned guns within a weekend” Unfortunately I cant be naive that banning guns would be a final solution. America is a big country and has throughout history had varying values on guns than most countries. Banning guns and ammunition could help or could be a flop. But we can’t be naive to the fact that we could still have a black market. We have an opioid problem yet it’s illegal. So a solution in terms of stifling mass shootings: gun regulations, including training, mental health assessments, license renewals and improved fbi involvement. Because just like Washington post stated, lawful gun owners don’t commit majority of crimes, because they understand the severity of the weapon and keep it out of reach of children/mentally ill ect.
      So maybe instead of discrediting an opinion piece as intellectually dishonest, despite creditable sources, links, stats, and facts, because you have made this topic political, you can start to understand the bigger issues in this country.

      • James 26 April, 2019 at 13:15 Reply

        Having lived in other countries, having guns is safer than not having guns, in other countries school shootings may not occur, but crime rates are higher because criminals can’t be shot

    • John 23 April, 2019 at 13:42 Reply

      Isabel,
      You have a very good response except for one thing. “everyday citizen over the age of 18 can purchase any type of firearm with little to no mitigation. ” This is false. Civilians are not allowed to purchase any military grade weapons. They can buy military grade firearms from before 1986, and even then, it requires extensive paperwork, and money to purchase. This is due to the Firearms Owners Protection Act of 1986. Good argument, but do your research a little better next time

  6. Alex Aguilar 19 April, 2019 at 10:26 Reply

    if you think gun control will stop school shootings, you’re dead wrong. It has nothing to do with guns and it has everything to do with mental health. It would it kill you people to stop bringing up politics and start thinking about our peers? Stricter gun laws aren’t gonna magically stop mentally ill people from hurting people. They aren’t gonna do anything except cause even more divide in America. I have a question for this author; Do you honestly think taking away guns is gonna stop people from hurting people? Because it’s not. It won’t and it never will. I knew people would start their anti-gun propaganda after this incident but I never thought it was be someone from our school.

    • Jori 19 April, 2019 at 18:09 Reply

      Thank you for taking the time to respond to my editorial. I 100% agree with you. Mental health awareness is vital for our country and mental illness creates many of these shooters. It sounds like you skimmed my article, knowing that it was titled “never again,” and assumed I was arguing that “guns are bad. We need to take them away.” What I was actually arguing was how someone who is only two years older than me, mentally ill, and already watched by the fbi for her concerning internet blog, should not be able to fly into Colorado and purchase a gun. I understand that our right to bear arms is important in order to protect our freedom. I understand a gun can be a useful tool; however, a gun is a dangerous tool that can mean life or death within seconds, and in the hands of the wrong people, especially with our current mental illness epidemic, can be fatal. A gun is a powerful weapon. How else can a 5’5 woman make a half million students stay home from school? So yes, as a country, we need to improve our mental health stigmas, our mental health education, and mental health insurance. But before that we can’t let it be so easy to purchase and uphold a gun and multiple guns. The fbi needs to improve, and in order to purchase a gun, training, mental health screening, a permit process, and license renewals need to be required.

  7. James Richmond 19 April, 2019 at 12:01 Reply

    The government should’ve have a hand in anyone’s life whatsoever. The government putting a hand in our personal lives is something that occurs in Communism and Socialism. Yes, the school shootings are nonetheless a terrible thing that has happened in the United States. However, though you made no argument to get rid of guns, it’s not a wise idea. People will still get guns illegally and Australia is a perfect example of this. They are recently having MAJOR problems with the Korean USAS-12 Automatic Shotgun. However, individuals still receive the weapon. Background checks will put the government further into our lives which is something no one wants. It’ll ultimately lead to the people having no personal life. You’re welcome to speak with me face-to-face on these subjects. I’ll do more research.

  8. 2A Supporter 26 April, 2019 at 11:29 Reply

    Here’s an example of how gun control isn’t very effective. In 1997, the Australian government required all firearm owners to surrender their guns. But even after more than 640,000 guns were destroyed, the murder rate in Australia rose 6.2 percent, violent assaults with weapons were up 9 percent, and armed robberies rose an astonishing 44 percent. (Bjorklund 26-27) Taking away guns from the American people won’t make anyone safer, it only takes them out of the hands of people using them legally.

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