After the Parkland school shooting, Colorado father of four Aaron Stark listened as his wife and daughter discussed the massacre of 17 people. "They could not understand what could make someone do this. Sadly, I can," Stark writes in a letter to KUSA. "I was almost a school shooter." It's a confession perhaps as hard to hear as it is for Stark to air publicly. But it's a conversation that must be had, Stark says. He tells KUSA a violent childhood and years of bullying led him to consider murder and suicide in 1996. "I was going to try to kill a lot of people and then kill myself," he says, per NBC News. It had nothing to do with "the media, or video games, or music." Rather, "I felt like I had nothing at all in life to look forward to and ... nothing to lose."
But though he tried to find a gun, he wasn't able to, in part because of an assault weapons ban in place from 1994 to 2004. "Guns don't kill people, people kill people. But people with guns kill lots of people," Stark writes. "Do we really need to have assault weapons?" he adds in an interview with MSNBC. But this issue is bigger than guns alone, says Stark, noting one kind act—a friend baking him a pie—kept him from committing suicide. Acknowledging "a severe lack of love" took a toll on his mental health, Stark now says "compassion is the only real way we can stop this." Something as simple as "a kind word, a hug, saying 'Hey how are you' … could literally save someone's life," Stark tells MSNBC. "When you're in the worst state and you think that no one cares, having someone actually care can make an entire world of difference."