Never Again

Gun Violence Must Be Stopped


Lorie Shaull via Creative Commons

Students from Teens For Gun Reform protest in Washington, D.C. February 19. The organization formed in response to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Jhair Romero, Sports Editor

On February 14, 2018, a little over a week ago, a 19-year old named Nikolas Cruz walked into his former school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and gunned down 17 people. 14 were students between the ages of 14 and 18-years old, and three were staff members.

What happened in South Florida was shocking, but nothing new. Shootings in schools, concerts and nightclubs alike have become the norm. “Thoughts and prayers” has become the new mantra of the American society. It has become a way of life.

Many consider what happened in Parkland to be the last straw, and many began to ask questions. Why did this happen? What was the motive? Why did the Federal Bureau of Investigation drop the ball by ignoring several tips about Cruz’s intentions? Why was that same person, somebody who has a history of violence and mental illness, allowed to legally obtain a military-style weapon? It all boiled down to two questions: why do things like this continue to happen, and when will it be stopped?

The answer is simple and also difficult. It will stop when we stop letting it happen. When we say, in the only way that politicians understand, that it is not ok for gunmen armed with military-style weapons to open fire upon our citizens, our classmates. It will stop when we vote, and vote for people willing to make it stop.

The midterm elections are coming up in November, primaries are happening now with early voting starting this week. Even young citizens have a voice. The youth in America are, as The New York Times puts it, the “Mass Shooting Generation,” but we don’t have to be remembered by the future people of our nation that way.

We have a say in these issues just as much as any person living in the U.S. It’s our civic duty to our country, to its people and to the generations of future Americans that will lead on and succeed us. We can triumph by volunteering, calling legislators, registering to vote as soon as we are old enough, and actually voting.

We need to vote because nine were killed in a Charleston church during Bible study, 26 at another church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, 32 at Virginia Tech, 12 in an Aurora, Colorado movie theatre, 26 in Newtown, Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary, 49 in Orlando, Florida at a night club and 58 in at a concert in Las Vegas. 212 dead in just seven incidents from the extensive list of mass shootings in our country. states that there were 346 mass shootings—defined as shootings with four or more victims—in 2017 alone.

Students in high schools across America have lived to witness all seven of these, and probably remember them happening. According to Vox, 9 out of 10 publics school in the U.S. practice mass shooting drills, and 32 states have made these drills mandatory by law. Although preparation is now necessary, these tragedies should never have happened in the first place. People like Adam Lanza, James Holmes and Cruz, the shooters at Sandy Hook, Aurora and Parkland, should not have had access to the guns that they used to murder innocent Americans. There are well over 212 reasons why.

If the general consensus is that people like this should not own guns of this caliber, then why did they have access to them? Stephen Paddock, the man responsible for the Las Vegas shooting, had 23 rifles in the hotel room from where he shot down at a country music festival. He owned 47 guns total and bought a staggering 33 guns in a single year. How did this activity not raise red flags? How could no one know? Paddock was a gambler, an alcoholic and was addicted to valium, a prescription drug linked to aggressive behavior. Still no one knew. He bought all of the guns legally, then he orchestrated the deadliest mass shooting by a lone gunman in modern U.S. history, surpassing the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando from just the year before.

For this reason, there must be more regulations for owning such dangerous weapons. Mental evaluations, more thorough background checks, etc. Any precaution that can prevent our people from being killed is essential. Things like these should be taken more seriously in our country, but they have fallen by the wayside. Florida lawmakers recently struck down legislation that would have potentially banned the kind of weapons that killed those in Parkland as survivors from Stoneman Douglas watched from the public gallery. The vote was 71–36 to deny the motion. That’s how much the Florida legislature cared.

Our government has not done enough to protect its people from these sorts of attacks. President Donald Trump signed a law from Congress reversing Obama-era gun control laws targeted for those with mental illnesses last February. Only 10 representatives from Texas voted against the repeal. The 26 others, including the rep. presiding over much of the area of CCISD, voted for the roll backs. Should the lives of our people, of school children, be a political issue?  We’re going backwards, and our citizens are dying because of it. Americans claim that our country is the best in the world, but not when it comes to protecting our people from gun violence. This is the only nation where these things happen so frequently and with such magnitude.

After a shooting that left 35 dead in Australia, the country began a campaign to ban rapid-fire guns. As stated by USA Today, Australian Government even offered to buy back the rapid-fire guns that people already owned. This happened in April of 1996, and they haven’t had a mass shooting since.

Trump recently ordered Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice to propose a ban on bump stocks, a type of gun modification that allows the user to emulate rapid, automatic fire, effectively making a semiautomatic weapon a fully automatic one. Several bump stocks were used by Paddock in Las Vegas, but it would not have prevented what happened at Stoneman Douglas.

According to CNN, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California has said that she supports the ban, but that more has to be done.

“Legislation is the only answer. Words are one thing, Mr. President, but we need meaningful action,” Feinstein said.

Feinstein is right. The current gun laws failed those murdered in Parkland, Orlando and every single mass shooting that this country has seen. This issue cannot be ignored anymore. Politicians, like Senator Marco Rubio of (ironically) Florida, say that stricter gun laws would not have stopped the shooting, but do not take any measures at all to keep schools and children safe. A person should not be able to buy a gun that dangerous before they can even legally purchase an alcoholic beverage. Maybe no person should be able to buy that kind of gun at all.

As reported by Mollie Reilly and Nick Wing of the Huffington Post, the style of weapon used by Cruz is designed to be as efficient as possible, meaning a gunman could shoot and reload faster compared to other kinds of guns.

“These weapons are designed to fire off bullets very, very quickly. Some manufacturers boast that an experienced shooter could fire as many as 45 rounds in one minute. Magazines containing fresh ammunition can be swapped out in a matter of seconds,” Reilly and Wing wrote.

There is no room for guns like that in our society; there must be change. What happened in Parkland was horrific, and the videos and firsthand accounts from survivors were just that, as well—horrific. Nobody in the United States of America–or any country– should live in fear of being murdered by a mass shooter.

Together, we must relegate these incidents to the past. We must be the ones that help end this. We must be the ones that say, “Never again.”