Parkland shooting rekindles gun control debate

On Feb. 14, 17 people were killed in a school shooting in Parkland, Florida. The shooter, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

According to his lawyer, Cruz had a history of mental illness and possible autism. His social media posts also raised concerns, depicting violent statements and pictures.

Cruz used an AR-15 rifle that he legally purchased, a fact that is astounding. There should be no way a mentally unstable teenager, or anyone besides trained members of the military for that matter should be able to get their hands on such a deadly weapon. Parkland residents are calling for more legislation and security surrounding guns, which needs to happen.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, more than 400 people have been shot in over 200 school shootings since Sandy Hook. Frustratingly, no changes have been made in Congress to diminish these numbers. These numbers could have been reduced dramatically if our government could work to increase gun restrictions especially on military grade weapons, as well as better security within schools.

Of course, people have the right to protect themselves, but who needs a semi-automatic weapon for “protection”? Access to guns of this caliber is frankly doing more killing than protecting. Australia, for example, gave out severe gun restrictions after a 1996 mass shooting, and there have been none since then. These included bans on semi-automatic and military weapons. They also introduced buy-back programs, encouraging citizens to turn in their weapons for money, which was successful. The United States needs to take a leaf out of their book.

Instead of sending out “thoughts and prayers,” shootings such as this one should be a call to action. Some people have criticized students from the school for speaking out, saying they need “time to grieve”. But how else are the murders of innocent kids supposed to be grieved? Without action, there will be no change as well as more chances for a school shooting to happen again.

Having more thorough background checks for buying guns, bans on semi and automatic weapons, and restrictions on where a gun can be carried all need to be implemented. School security shouldn’t be an issue, but in an age where many people value the right to bear arms more than the right to live, increased protection in schools is a more realistic, though disappointing, solution.

School shootings are not supposed to happen. Repeated school shootings are supposed to be stopped. Lack of change regarding this issue will not magically prevent people from killing students. Something needs to be done.


Pictures courtesy of Creative Commons