Gun Control and Safety – The March For Our Lives

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - FEBRUARY 17: People join together after a school shooting that killed 17 to protest against guns on the steps of the Broward County Federal courthouse on February 17, 2018 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Earlier this week former student Nikolas Cruz opened fire with a AR15 rifle at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School killing 17 people. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

By Isabella Lahoue, Editor-in-Chief. Image can be found here.

March For Our Lives has been one of the biggest youth protests since Vietnam War protests in the 1960s. The march is a direct response to the Parkland Shooting of this past February, where 17 students were killed by a 19-year-old former student, who opened fire in the school with an assault rifle.

How to best reduce gun violence, and prevent school shootings in particular, is the subject of current debate. There are incredibly different views on both sides, but everyone wants the same thing: safety (as a result, the current administration has put forth a plan that addresses both sides).

Many of the protesters argue that heavy restrictions for gun sales are needed to prevent any future instances of gun violence. Nikolas Cruz, the gunman from the Parkland shooting, did legally purchase an AR-15 despite his long history of questionable actions, but is it possible that too few gun sales laws aren’t the problem?  Is it possible that an increase in general purchase restriction may not affect gun violence or possibly make the situation worse?

Those who argue that guns should be purchased freely argue for the enforcement of the second amendment, which states,

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.

Those who are against gun control argue that this amendment should restrict laws from being created, and citizens should have the individual right to bear arms. This side of the crowd claims that the issue is something other than gun sales, such as mental illnesses, and limiting gun sales will not improve the situation. Then again, allowing things to stay the way they are won’t make things better, because instances of gun violence only continue to appear in the news. Something must change, but perhaps the job to be done has been under our noses this entire time, and we didn’t even notice.

One issue at heart of recent mass shootings is neither insufficiency of gun (sale) laws, nor mental illnesses, but neglecting potential threats and failing to enforce existing laws. Nikolas Cruz should have been approached by his former school’s counselor, who chose to disregard his case and assumed he was merely a “troubled kid.” The FBI also failed to acknowledge Cruz’s repeated cyber-threats even after they were tipped off about him numerous times, still months before he opened fire at Parkland High School in February. Devin Kelley, who killed 26 people in a Texas church in November 2017, was only able to purchase his weapons because the US Army Base neglected to update their National Criminal Information Center database, which would have prevented him from buying guns in the first place.

Before America orders that the government creates more laws, we should first suggest that they begin to enforce those already set in place. Our government officials should be regulating cases more carefully, to start.

As for the question of safety within schools, is there still something missing? While we prepare for the event that an armed intruder is in our midst, it seems as though we fail to consider the possibility of an inside job. Parkland was Cruz’s former high school, after all, not just a random target he chose for his assault. He was entirely neglected by the counselors and teachers at his school, who knew of his previous threats against students. It is possible that this scenario can translate to any other school, including ours. We are very much wrapped around the possibility of an outside intruder, but if in the same way we or any other school could fail to neglect our students as having emotional ties to their actions. In the busy world we live in, it is easy to miss people and their signals, but that is often what costs us the most. Had someone noticed Nikolas Cruz and had the sense and strength to try and help him, our country might not be in the turmoil that it is today. We should be very thankful that we are in a place where there is much support from peers and administration, but it is still our responsibility to consider the consequences of actions happening all around us.