Florida School Shooting

Kate Williams, Staff Writer


School: a place that parents send their children, confident that they will return at the end of the day with more knowledge than they had when they got out of bed that morning. So what does it say about our world when parents can’t even be sure that their children will return alive?

The most recent school shooting to rock the nation took place in Parkland, Florida on the 14th of February. As a result of the shooting, 17 students and teachers lost their lives and over a dozen were injured. The aftereffect of the shooting was even more enormous than the shooting itself.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Nikolas Cruz, 19, has been charged with 17 counts of pre-meditated murder. A former student of the high school, Cruz was expelled for disciplinary reasons. In his possessions, an enormous number of gun magazines and an AR-type rifle were found.

The Florida shooting is the deadliest the U.S. has seen since the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in 2012 and the third-deadliest school shooting in modern U.S. history, following the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech and the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting. Though shootings are not often widely recognized anymore, this is the sixth high-school shooting resulting in injury death since the beginning of this year, just under two months. According to researchers from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Texas State University, there were 44 active-shooter incidents in schools between 2000 and 2015. In these shootings, 268 people were shot and 132 killed.

Thursday morning after the Parkland shooting, President Trump tweeted: “So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!” Robert Runcie, Broward County Public School Superintendent, stated that he was unaware of any sign that an attack was imminent. According to an anonymous source, however, the FBI received a call from a person close to Nikolas Cruz in which the caller expressed concerns regarding “Cruz’s gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting.” According to USA Today, Broward County deputies also received an approximation of 18 calls concerning Nikolas Cruz between 2008 and 2017, including concerns of his plans to “shoot up the school.

In addition to students having to live through this horrific event, they have also had to relive it while attempting to gain lawmakers’ efforts to revise gun control laws. Around 100 students from the high school made a 400 mile trip to Tallahassee for a meeting with lawmakers concerning gun control. As the students arrived in the state capitol, the state legislature declined to pass a ban on assault rifles, the type of gun used in the shooting. When students questioned why civilians should be permitted to own weapons as destructive as this, Florida’s Senate President Joe Negron simply replied: “That’s an issue that we’re reviewing.” Despite the event that spurred this meeting, lawmakers are not seriously considering placing a ban on the weapons, but raising the minimum purchasing age to 21.

Schools across the country have reacted to the shooting. Gaffney High School, a school 712 miles away from the shooting has increased security. Parents arriving to sign their children out of school now not only have to show identification at the front office, but must show their identification and sign a paper to be permitted to enter the building. The place of safety and learning has evolved into a near prison-level of security.

In today’s day and age, it seems as though the threat to bring a gun to school is often viewed as merely a joke. A student could walk around joking about what they would do differently in the event that they wished to “shoot up the school,” and somepeople around them take it lightly. Students point out other students, making quips that they would be the “next school shooter,” never considering that a shooting might actually occur at their school. Despite the incessant wisecracking, in the event that a school shooting does occur, it rocks the community in which it takes place. And so, the question that must be pondered at some point by people across America, when do the deaths of innocent children and teachers stop being a punchline?