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Tuesday, May 11, 1999 Published at 06:44 GMT 07:44 UK

World: Americas

Charge over Columbine gun

The memorial in Clement Park, Littleton, is being dismantled

An ex-Columbine High student has been formally charged with supplying a pistol to the students who carried out the Colorado school massacre.

Mark Edward Manes, 22, a computer programmer, has admitted selling the semi-automatic TEC DC-9 to Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, who used it in their attack on Columbine High School in which they killed 13 people and themselves.

[ image: Mark Manes faces up to six years in prison]
Mark Manes faces up to six years in prison
He said nothing during the court hearing in which he was charged with providing a handgun to a minor.

But defence lawyer Robert Ransome said Manes had not known why the students had wanted the gun and had been horrified when he'd heard what had taken place.

The offence carries a maximum sentence of six years in prison. Manes remains free on bail.

Gun control moves

Democrats in Congress, backed by President Clinton, will press in Senate debate this week to make safety locks mandatory for guns.

The measure finds some support from Republicans, although both gun control lobbyists and gun manufacturers say the locks would give a false sense of security.

A flurry of lawsuits by cities and by victims of previous school shootings cites lack of gun locks as evidence of manufacturers' negligence.

After the Colorado killings, President Clinton released a gun control package that included

  • background checks at gun shows
  • raising the minimum age for buying a handgun from 18 to 21
  • restoring the waiting period for gun purchases
  • barring juveniles from possessing semi-automatic assault rifles.
After a three-hour "summit" at the White House with gun manufacturers, gun control advocates and entertainment executives, President Bill Clinton urged Hollywood to think twice before making violent movies.

"We have to ask the people who produce things to consider the consequences of them, whether it's a violent movie, a CD, a video game," he added. "If they are made, they at least should not be marketed to children."

He also urged parents to keep a sharp eye on what their children watched and to boycott violent entertainment.

The scene at Coulumbine

Meanwhile, the memorial sites set up to remember the 12 students and one teacher killed in the shootings on 20 April are being dismantled.

Much of the material left by mourners at Clement Park, Littleton, Denver, is to go into storage, and the flowers will be made into pot-pourri.

For almost three weeks, mourners have brought flowers, teddy bears, hand-scribbled notes and blue ribbons to the park, which is adjacent to Columbine High.

A permanent memorial is in the planning stages.

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