When 14-year-old Michael Cornell opened fire on his classmates during a pre-school prayer in 1997, school shootings were not yet part of the national consciousness. The massacre that left three students dead and five others injured at Heath High School, near Paducah, Kentucky, ended when Cornell put down his weapon and was escorted to his classroom by the principal, a scene that seems unimaginable today.

Also stretching today’s imagination, Carnell’s life sentence guaranteed the possibility of parole after 25 years, the maximum sentence allowed at the time given his age.

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