It happened again.
This time, a 19-year-old gunman pulled the fire alarm at his high school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. As students filed out of classrooms, presumably thinking there was another fire drill happening, the shooter, a student with an extensive discipline record and armed with an AR-15 (once again), a gas mask, and smoke grenades, began mowing down innocent students.
Bodies and blood littered the halls of the Broward County school, with students and teachers holing up in closets and locking themselves in classrooms to hide from the shooter.
According to ‘Everytown for Gun Safety’ this was the 18th school shooting of 2018. Seven weeks into the year, that would equal a school shooting every 2.5 days.
This is the new normal.
This school shooting, the deadliest since a gunman opened fire on elementary students in Newtown, Connecticut over five years ago, has sparked a new wave of “thoughts and prayers”, but just like that devastating massacre of young children in Sandy Hook, not much else.
President Trump briefly addressed the nation, noting that all children should feel safe and saying that America’s children are “never alone and never will be”. To be honest, I’m not really sure what that means, but I am sure the NRA is satisfied that their $31,000,000 man did well to not mention the word “gun”. Instead, Trump spoke about the need to create a culture with deep and meaningful connections and “tackling the difficult issue of mental health”.
With that I can agree.
These massacres and the mass loss of life that they bring, are truly difficult to unpack. Understandably so. What drives a person to knowingly steal the lives of innocent people, let alone children?
What’s most painful is the sense of acceptance. Some Americans, while sad that this happened, see it as unavoidable. It’s just the way it is now.
We’re in the middle of the predictable cycle of response to a mass shooting. First, the media treats the breaking news like a sporting event, complete with updated stats, sideline interviews, and in-depth analysis on the scene. Can we please stop immediately broadcasting images and names of murderers in the cases? Effectively making them celebrities, and inciting copycats? Let’s not give them the dignity of fame or recognition.
Next comes the wave of “thoughts and prayers”, which unfortunately have proven 100% ineffective in changing absolutely anything.
Sometimes, simultaneously you get the “let’s not politicize this tragedy” or “now is not the time to talk policy”.
“This is about guns and this is about all the peole who had their life abruptly ended because of guns.” – Marjory Stoneman Douglas student.
With a school shooting every few days, will we ever have a chance to move to that stage?
Lastly, the shooting becomes a memory, perhaps attached to the name of a city or school (Colombine, Sandy Hook, Aurora, Las Vegas shooting, Orlando Night Club), only to be brought up again as the list of “deadliest mass shootings” gets updated.
Americans are resigned to this being the new normal. THIS IS NOT NORMAL.
If you are so concerned with “gun rights” that you are willing to accept a school shooting every couple days, without allowing even the discussion of tighter gun control being brought up, you are part of the problem.
Mental health is clearly an issue to take seriously and one that we should be pragmatic about researching and supporting. For those who say better security in schools is the answer, there’s no reason to rule it out, but note that an armed officer was on duty during this most recent tragedy. For those who say culture is key, and teaching respect and relationship building, or stopping bullying and teaching students to speak up if something seems off: agreed.
Let’s all agree that the current situation is not acceptable. That’s step one.
“Ideas are great, ideas are wonderful and they help you get re-elected and everything, but what’s more important is actual action.”
Kelsey Friend and David Hogg, students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School said in an interview calling for action: “Ideas are great, ideas are wonderful and they help you get re-elected and everything, but what’s more important is actual action”.
Thoughts and prayers are not actual action.
To those so adamant in your support of gun culture, I ask why? Do you find guns so enjoyable, that you are ok with a school shooting every couple days as a side-effect? Are you so drawn to your constitutional right to bear arms, that you cannot envision any type of gun control as an answer, even if it will help minimize the murder of innocent people?
Is it possible that the constitution is fallible? That the same document that settled on slaves as essentially “three-fifths” of a human, got some things wrong? Or that things have changed since the days of muskets and militias? Perhaps the founding fathers wouldn’t have supported a mentally ill teenager’s right to legally purchase a semi-automatic assault rifle?
America may have decided that this is just the way things are, but I refuse to accept a reality in which are resigned to tragedy striking our classrooms and innocent children regulary losing their lives.