One Year Since Parkland

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One Year Since Parkland

A peaceful protest in response to the Parkland shooting.

A peaceful protest in response to the Parkland shooting.

via Creative Commons

A peaceful protest in response to the Parkland shooting.

via Creative Commons

via Creative Commons

A peaceful protest in response to the Parkland shooting.

On February 14th one year ago, students at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were confused to hear a fire alarm go off at their school. What followed was one of the deadliest mass shootings in modern America. Nicolas Cruz, 17, opened fire on his classmates at 2:21 PM, killing a talented young soccer player, a swimmer, a geography teacher, a football coach, a much loved son, and 12 more incomprehensibly complex lives.

Students lost their friends and colleagues. Shattered families were offered “thoughts and prayers” to fix their lives now forever changed. And teenagers across the country began to look for the nearest exits in their own schools, because the question emerged:What made them any different?

The slaughter of Parkland was not an isolated case. On October 27 2018, a shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue left 11 dead in their house of worship. The event shook the Pittsburgh Jewish community to its core, especially as it was an attack fueled by hatred and anti-Semitism. Those affected were once again met with “thoughts and prayers” from our politicians.

Since Parkland, there have been 138 mass shootings in the US, and 1,960 since Sandy Hook seven years ago. A widely-accepted definition of mass shooting means that four people are killed in the incident. This means that at least 552 people have died from mass shootings in the past year, a number that does not even include domestic gun deaths and other numbers. Half a thousand people have lost their lives in the past year to an unnecessary and preventable death.

The government has done very little in response to this crisis. Many politicians are given money by the National Rifle Association or NRA, and such financial backing encourages them not to vote for gun control laws since it will lead to a decrease in gun sales. The NRA has given 1 million dollars or more to eight lawmakers, and hundreds of thousands of dollars to other politicians in DC. In addition, the NRA spent 30.3 million dollars during the 2016 election to ensure Donald Trump’s election. By gaining power over politicians elected to protect us, the NRA is able to supply guns to a larger consumer market, which includes domestic abusers, those with certain mental conditions, and people previously convicted of gun crimes.

Background checks have continually proved to be effective in preventing gun violence. Massachusetts, the state with the least gun violence in America (3.4 firearm deaths per 100,000), requires dealers to conduct background checks for every gun purchase. In contrast, when Missouri repealed their background check law they saw a 14% increase in murder rate, as well as a 25% increase in firearm homicide rates. If lawmakers passed stronger gun legislation which ensured that only those capable of properly using guns were allowed to own them, then we have a much greater ability to stop another mass shooting.

We said that after Parkland there would be no more. After Parkland no other child would have to die for another to make a point. After Parkland we would create an environment in which kids wouldn’t have to be afraid to go to school. After Parkland we could live without fear of our friends bleeding to death next to us. But none of those promises came true. Virtually nothing has changed.

We can’t allow the passing of time to diminish activism in points that matter. If we let ourselves ignore the issue simply because another massacre hasn’t happened in a while, it is only inevitable that another disaster will happen. We have to stay vigilant in advocating for gun control as lasting change can only be made over time.

Call your local and state representatives to tell them you support gun control. Donate to organizations such as Everytown, which advocate for national gun control. Be active vocally when it comes to the issue of gun violence, because only through the persistence of many people can we truly make a world free from gun violence.