On Feb. 14, 17 people were killed in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, marking the 19th shooting on school grounds in 2018. When I first heard of this shooting, I immediately thought to myself ‘not again’ and was shocked, especially since the year started barely seven weeks before. The high school is approximately 40 minutes away from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, which was also the place of a mass shooting just 11 months earlier, and is only a short driving distance away from my home.
According to the Washington Post, mass shootings are identified as events involving four or more people injured or killed in a single event at the same time and location. As of March 11, there have been 45 mass shootings and 74 people have been killed from guns in the U.S. in 2018, according to Gun Violence Archive, a website that provides statistics in relation to gun violence. The data also shows that four or more people have been killed in 13 percent of those shootings.
Ten years ago, the only mass shootings I remember hearing about were the infamous Columbine High School massacre and the Virginia Tech shooting. Since July 2012, there have been at least six major mass shootings that have greatly increased debates concerning gun regulation and the second amendment.
In the United States, people must be 18 years old to buy long guns and 21 years old to purchase hand guns. Varying interpretations of the second amendment have caused people to revisit the amendment and establish a modern understanding of it. On Sept. 25, 1789, Congress passed the second amendment, which reads as follows: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
While the amendment has remained the same since 1789, state and federal regulations have changed throughout the years. Today, many states do not strictly enforce gun control and access to guns has gotten easier.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s shooter is Nikolas Cruz, a former student of the high school. Documented accounts mention that Cruz was a troubled teenager who was once expelled from the high school and, according to statements had expressed his desire to shoot people. Reports state that he arrived at the school in an Uber, with a bag that contained an AR-15 and magazines. Shortly after, he entered he school and began the devastating event.
This was the third mass shooting in Florida since June 2016.
Just one day prior to the MSD shooting, Parkland was listed as one of the safest places to live in the United States based on a study released by Neighborhood Scout. If students in an affluent city such as Parkland are not immune to crime, are there any places where crime cannot exist?
Unfortunately, crime will always take place. The best ways to help stop crime is to take methods to prevent it from occurring as best as possible. President Donald Trump suggested arming teachers would possibly provide students with more safety in schools. Personally, I do not agree with that idea. Stronger regulations that involve more stringent methods to better sift out people who are not capable of being responsible of possessing firearms should exist. What those measures will be, I cannot say.
Public support has flooded in since the shooting. The #NeverAgain movement, which advocates for stricter gun regulations, has been instrumental in raising awareness and providing support for the victims and community members affected by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. Delta Airlines has chosen to not provide discounts to NRA members. Sports athletes such as Dwyane Wade and Ryan Lochte have recently visited the high school to show support for the victims. There were also school walk-outs that took place, during which high school and college students from throughout the U.S. walked out of class in protest to the events that took place at MSD.
Enough is enough. These mass shootings have incited fear and inflicted pain in the hearts of many people for far too long. It is my hope that an event like this never occurs again. There does not have to be another Nikolas Cruz, Adam Lanza in Sandy Hook, Dylan Roof in Charleston or a Stephen Paddock in Las Vegas if we take drastic measures to enact change to gun laws and prevent these future tragedies.
Aaron Tommie has worked for the Tribe since 2015. He is a participant in the Tribe’s Advanced Career Development program. He is currently working in the Executive Operations Office.