By Cooper Graham
Valentine’s Day has forever been viewed as a romantic holiday where you get chocolates and flowers for a significant other, and perhaps even a card. That’s how the community in Parkland, Florida was treating it.
Then, the unexpected happened; ex-student Nikolas Cruz entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, pulled out an assault rifle, and opened fire on multiple classrooms. Seventeen people, both students and faculty, were killed. Fourteen were injured.
Cruz, who is 19-years-old, had acquired about 10 assault rifles within about 1-2 years. At the time, he was living with James and Kimberly Snead, his friend’s parents. The family was aware of his gun collection and made him purchase a safe, which they would hold the key to. Regardless of these efforts, he still was able to access the weapons.
A lot of fingers are being pointed at different groups who people feel are to blame for this shooting and for how many people were killed and hurt.
Miles Hoeckel, a junior at Beaverton who is apart of JSA and is experienced and knowledgeable on the topic, had several valid points that put more blame on the government than, say, the family or the police.
“I definitely don’t think that all precautions were taken. I think it’s completely unreasonable that, for example, this kid could be on an official FBI watchlist and still be able to purchase a firearm and access any public place that he chooses to.”
The blame, he says, is mostly on state representatives and members of Congress. “I think one common misconception among those politicians who oppose gun legislation is they assume a really hyperbolic view from the other side that bans all guns or makes it difficult to get guns. I call it common sense legislation, where if you are on an FBI watchlist or a terrorist watch list or have severe mental health issues that are known of by the state, you shouldn’t be able to get a gun.”
The problem is, gun control is seen as a partisan issue, which makes it much more difficult to come to a solution and pass any sort of legislation that could stop this from happening. However, the rapid occurrence of mass shootings over the past few decades is making the need for change even more pressing.
The way that Miles describes it, this change can “even be a symbolic change that will stop this from happening again…for those with mental health issues and are on some sort of watchlist, they shouldn’t be able to purchase firearms.”
Another step towards a safer America is a ban on unnecessary attachments, such as high-capacity magazines and bump stocks, which make it a lot easier to kill many people at once. They aren’t necessary for the intended use of protection against attackers or intruders.
Generations of young people are growing up in a world where gun violence and shootings seem to occur every day. We’re becoming desensitized to the matter because it seems like nothing is being done to stop it.
The time to act is now, and the students in Florida are a prime example of our capabilities to protest and seek change. But the change we want will only come from widespread efforts. This shooting shouldn’t have happened. At this point, however, we need to find a way to grieve AND do what is necessary to stop this from happening again.
Protesters in Parkland fighting for the government to take action on gun control. (Photo courtesy of time.com).