Reform After Parkland: If Not Now, When?
Last Wednesday’s horrific violence in Parkland, Florida claimed the lives of seventeen people, making it the deadliest school shooting since the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012. Sadly this event was also the latest in a troubling two-month trend that has seen eight school shootings.
Of course, these latest school-shooting trends also speak to larger issues concerning gun violence in the United States. Data from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows that an average of 12,726 gun homicides have occurred since 2012. Unfortunately, it would be an understatement to say that this number of violent gun deaths pales in comparison to the rates seen in many other countries: in contrast to America’s rate of 3.85 gun deaths per 100,000 people, countries such as Germany (0.12), the United Kingdom (0.07), and Japan (0.04) sit markedly lower.
However, most of the aforementioned information is likely common-knowledge; and similar articles demanding further gun control following past atrocities have already been written by fellow contributors to this paper, let alone national political pundits. For that reason, any new suggestions to stop these disturbing trends would obviously be welcome. The latest push to restrict those with mental disabilities from possessing firearms should be a step in the right direction (although it ironically comes roughly one year after President Donald Trump’s administration decided to overturn regulation preventing those with mental health issues from easily purchasing guns). Other more daring opinions as to the role photos could play in influencing public sentiment, as suggested by a writer for The Atlantic, possibly could have merit as well. However, broader societal issues that extend beyond gun control should also be part of the discussion, such as identifying explanations for why men (specifically younger men, in most cases) have been responsible for 92 of the 95 mass shootings to occur in the US since 1982.
Initiatives planned by surviving students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland may be the first phase in a national movement designed to successfully address these issues. Various protests and marches, including a movement titled #NationalSchoolWalkout slated for April 20th, are being planned over the next two months. But while these efforts are undoubtedly intended to produce more good than harm, the board is in agreement that such efforts would likely be more relevant if they occurred sooner (or, better yet, immediately) rather than later. Ideas for better, more immediate solutions are hard to come by, though, so it is unfair to criticize these efforts too harshly.
However, in terms of possibilities for local change, nearby constituencies in New York, such as the 19th and 21st congressional districts, may be poachable in the coming elections for candidates advocating for further gun control. Support for these candidates -- and others like them in other countries and states across America -- via an act as small as a donation to their campaign would be both a welcome and logical step, as it would at least make the odds of an overdue attempt to curb violence more probable.
Regardless, the fact that atrocities such as the recent carnage in Parkland, last November’s Sutherland Springs church shooting, October’s Vegas strip slaughter, and 2016’s Orlando nightclub massacre continue to occur so frequently is infuriating. Tales of heroism from the likes of Parkland victim Aaron Feis, a football coach and security guard at the school who shielded students from the deranged killer’s rampage before unfortunately succumbing to his wounds, and expressions of courage exhibited by the many surviving students who have openly called out those in power such as President Trump in order to demand reform should be commended despite such a dreadful circumstance.
But the time has come, in short, for such examples of bravery and resiliency to no longer occur in vain.