It seems like America has had more shootings these past few years than California has had rain. On Wednesday, February 14, a day meant for love and happiness, students at a high school in Florida were forced to endure a day of hatred, violence, and death. The shooter, Nikolas Cruz, entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and began to fire, killing 17 innocent people with a semi automatic AR-15 rifle.
The weapon was purchased legally from Sunrise Tactical Supply. While one cannot legally purchase a handgun until they are 21, they can purchase a semiautomatic weapon at the age of 18. The ban on this rifle expired 14 years ago and has not been renewed. A mentally unstable 19-year-old man thus can lawfully walk into a store and purchase a weapon of mass destruction. This is beyond unreasonable and unjustifiable.
In 1995, Australia experienced a deadly mass shooting that motivated the nation to pass laws banning shotguns and semi-automatic rifles. While there is a three day waiting period to procure a gun in America, there is a 28 day waiting period in Australia, where self defense is not a sufficient reason to get one. In 1996, Australia had 69 mass shootings, which decreased to 30 in 2012 after these restrictions. Connecting the dots is not that hard.
Leaders in America, including President Trump, have instead suggested more guns as the answer to gun violence, stating that teachers should be armed. The logic in this plan is hard to grasp. Equipping teachers with guns, which may allow students to get their hands on these guns, would not solve the root of the issue with the legality and accessibility of weapons of mass destruction and their fatal results. This may create a more hostile environment and likely make the students feel unsafe, while also allowing an unstable teacher access to a weapon.
Irene Park (11) believes that “teachers are to focus on teaching; they shouldn’t be exercised and trained to shoot guns that could be placed in the wrong hands and lead to unfortunate accidents.” When asked what environment this plan would create, she stated, “ I would feel more fear than safety. I would feel uncomfortable and in danger.”
Irene is not alone in her belief or in her position on guns. Students in Florida and nationwide have risen up to deal with the issue, doing the job of politicians, leaders, and adults in this country who have failed to accomplish anything of substance. To call for an end to gun violence, students have planned The National School Walkout on March 14th and the March for Our Lives on March 24th. They also have spoken up and called out lawmakers and politicians for their tolerance and inaction.
Emma Gonzalez, a student who survived the Florida shooting has given passionate speeches calling for action, stating, “Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have ever been done to prevent this, we call BS.”
La Canada High School is also planning its own walkout. On March 14th at 10:00 in the morning, some students plan to walk out of class but remain on campus and have a moment of silence for the victims and give speeches. The walkout is planned to last about 17 minutes before students return to class. Students have also planned to march to Memorial Park and not return to school on April 20th, avoiding suspension but receiving an unexcused absence.
Claire McCord (11), one of the organizers of the events, said, “I want these walkouts to be a way to get students to use their voices and speak up for what they believe in, especially because our safety at school is in question.”
After mass shootings like Sandy Hook, Orlando, and Las Vegas, there is still hope that Parkland may be the big push for Congress to take action. These students and others afraid to go to school across the nation will not let this devastating and despicable events just be forgotten or swept under the rug. Effectively dealing with mental health and gun violence at its core might be the only path that will lead to a safer country, where mental health will not be disregarded or looked at with disgust, but will be approached with kindness, care, and humanity; where guns will not be viewed as an absolute emblem of freedom, but also as a tool of mass destruction and violence.
Sources: New York Times
photo cred: creative commons