Reactions to the Parkland School Shooting: What’s Left

Kara Schindler, Maroon-News Staff

In the aftermath of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida, which left 17 people dead, many people, myself included, find themselves somewhere between frustration and agony. No matter how politically-minded you are or where you fall on the political spectrum, it is not difficult to see that our country is in desperate need of reform and perhaps even a refreshed outlook on the gun epidemic that has taken the lives of far too many innocent people.

The same arguments continue to be made again and again. It feels like a waste of time to hash them out again. They range from outdated appeals to the Constitution, a document written 300 years ago, to shameless excuses for not taking action, such as the second amendment. Mass shooters are not law abiding citizens, so laws won’t stop them. Guns in schools might be necessary because of… grizzly bears. One counterargument I’ve heard reemerge in the past week is, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Yes. People do kill people. And they use guns to do it. But they’re right; that’s not the only way. People also kill people by turning a blind eye to the blatant crisis our nation is facing, by putting their party politics and financial selfishness before the lives of children in the country they claim to love and took oaths to protect.  

In February 2017, exactly one year ago, President Trump repealed an Obama-era regulation that would simply have made it easier to block the sale of firearms to people with certain mental illnesses. Trump’s motives for doing so could fall anywhere on the spectrum from NRA influence to a petty desire to oppose anything Obama ever did. Nonetheless, the problem remains: we don’t know what the outcomes of these reforms would be because we haven’t enforced them long enough to see change. What we do know is that President Trump has received $30 million from the NRA since running and being elected president. 

Some people get so caught up on the foundational arguments that they lose sight of what gun control would actually look like. Here’s what it looks like now: in Florida, to buy a gun you do not need a permit or a license of any kind. You can buy as many guns as you want at one time. Once you buy a gun, you do not need to register it. There is no law preventing people from carrying a concealed rifle or shotgun wherever they please. Of course, this all might just seem like rhetoric until a man actually abuses the lack of regulation to take the lives of 17 innocent high school students and faculty. Here’s a place to start: Measurements and restraints can simply take the form of license, registration, reason for purchase, safety training and safety storage, to name a few.

A refreshed outlook may seem hard to achieve when faced with an issue that has been brought up repeatedly, only to be shut down more swiftly than it came up. However, I see this new outlook already asserting itself, with unapologetic strength, through members of our generation. Our generation seems to be stepping up to do what the generations before us could not: put an end to gun violence. The students and survivors from Stoneman have been uniquely vocal and influential in the days following the tragedy, begging politicians to take action in the wake of yet another sickening display of lax gun laws leading to a national tragedy. Stoneman senior Emma Gonzalez made a particularly powerful speech that has spread its way around social media. Other students have been active on Twitter, getting members of our generation informed, involved and invested in making sensible gun laws an issue that politicians cannot continue to sweep under the rug to save their own party interests any longer.

However, it should not take being affected by a mass shooting to make people take action. It doesn’t matter if you’re politically active or not. It doesn’t matter the death count or the weapon used. What matters is that people are being killed by something we can regulate. Gun violence has left far too many people dead or heartbroken. We owe it to these people to educate ourselves, speak up and work toward changes, no matter what obstacles we may confront on our path to finding these solutions.

Contact Kara Schindler at [email protected].