The American public has become desensitized at these occurrences because we’ve seen this cycle before. The cycle is, there’s a shooting, we grief and pray for the families of those injured and passed, we call for action from politicians for gun control, nothing gets heard, nothing gets done and eventually, it happens again. The cycle repeats.
I wasn’t surprised about the news until I saw the videos from some of the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. What I saw, was a phone recording by a student that was huddled with other classmates for protection. There were loud gunshots, but what made me realize that this was something horrific, were the frightened screams from the trapped victims. Piercing screams far worse than those in scary movies. These demonstrated helplessness, and a desperate plead for mercy. That video wasn’t a minute long, yet it made me feel uneasy. I cringed at the thought of being there.
In an interview by ABC News, Jonathan Blank, who was seen in that video, laying on the floor, cowering, said, “I saw them on the ground after they were shot, there was blood everywhere, it was horrible.”
After seeing that, I began to imagine how terrifying it would be to witness a day in celebration of love and affection, turn into a nightmare. To watch, as it turned into a day where they prayed and pleaded to not die. To make it out alive. A day that these victims began saying their goodbyes via text or call, almost accepting that they might die there. Ultimately, a day that would change their lives forever.
“No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.” -President Donald J. Trump
WHAT WE KNOW
“Blood is being spilled on the floors of American classrooms”
-David Hogg (victim).
As reported on TIME magazine, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel stated that gunman Nikolas Cruz (19), after taking an Uber car ride to the high school, began to “fire into five classrooms across three floors of the building at 2:21pm.”
According to CNN, “On the third floor, he dropped his rifle and ammo. Ran out of the building, blending in with students and staff who were pouring out of the school, many with their hands in the air.”
Officer Michael Leonard, said Cruz “looked like a typical high school student,” and was walking on a nearby neighborhood. From there, he was brought into custody without resisting. Cruz is now being charged with 17 accounts of premeditated murder. Currently held without bond.
THERE WERE SIGNS OF TROUBLE
Cruz has been reported by The Star to have been a member of The JROTC marksmanship program used air rifles special-made for target shooting, typically on indoor ranges at targets the size of a coin. The program had received $10,827 in non-cash assistance from the NRA’s fundraising and charitable arm in 2016. This was only one out of 18 schools total in just the state of Florida, more than any other state.
Another member of the JROTC program who gave Cruz rides to shooting competitions said, “He was a very good shot, and he would tell us about how fun it was to shoot a riffle, shooting pistols and owning an AR-15 at home.” Not knowing he would shoot up their school one day with that same gun he spoke so profoundly about, “as if it was therapeutic to him.”
“Why does a teenager legally have an AR15? Somewhere along the line, these guys (politicians) forgot they work for us not the NRA.”
Cruz, a former student of the school had been expelled for disciplinary problems. Math teacher Jim Gard reported to TIME magazine that at one point Cruz wasn’t allowed to school with a backpack after making threats. Ultimately, shattering his plans of joining the Army after graduation. His peers described him as a loner, troubled kid, outcast and with violent tendencies.
It was also reported by various sources that he used to kill animals for entertainment.
HIS SUPPORT SYSTEM WAS GONE
Also, reported by TIME magazine, his mother passed away in November 2017. He and his younger sibling were legally living with a couple, family friends, who referred to his as a “monster” in an interview and mentioned they felt betrayed. They also stated there weren’t signs, other than “he seemed depressed.”
The Miami Herald stated that Florida’s Department of Children and Families had previously investigated Cruz after he posted Snapchat videos of cutting his arms. They reported that he was victim of medical neglect and inadequate supervision but was identified as “stable”.
BLAMING MENTAL ILLNESS
Cruz’s attorney argued that he had brain development issues, as well as mental illness. TIME revealed the response from The President of the American Psychological Association, Jessica Henderson;
“Framing the conversation about gun violence in the context of mental illness does a disservice both to the victims of violence and unfairly stigmatizes the many others with mental illness. Most important, it does not direct us to appropriate solutions to this public health crisis.”
I interviewed Morton’s psychology professor, Mr. Wood on his opinion, he responded;
“I agree, because mental illness has a broad range of different illnesses… if we could just pinpoint those who are pre-dispositioned to be violent…”
On February 15th at 6:12 AM, President Donald J. Trump tweeted:
“So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled for bad and erratic behavior, neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!”
Once again, President Trump reiterates what we already know and blames. He always blames mental health to deviate from the real problem, guns. Even if he thinks mental illness is the cause, he’s a hypocrite for de-funding mental health care.
We’ve heard this from President Trump before, after the Texas Mass shooting in a church that left 26 killed and many injured, he said;
“Mental health is your problem here” called the shooter a “very deranged individual.” As a response to that, Peter Ambler, the executive director of Giffords, the gun control group started by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords said to NBC News.
“Blaming mental health is a tactic straight out of the gun lobby’s playbook that’s meant to paralyze Congress. Donald Trump’s goal is to make people think our leaders don’t have the power to prevent gun violence.”
Yet as reported by NPR’s Scott Horsely nearly a year ago, The Trump administration signed a bill that “rolled back an Obama-era rule that would have required the Social Security Administration to send records of some beneficiaries with severe mental disabilities to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System.”
This is what NRA’s spokesperson Dana Loesch blamed at CNN Townhall when meeting with shooting survivors,
“He passed the background check because the system is flawed… it is not federally mandated to report those that have convictions and have been adjudicated mentally unfit…that’s how this madman passed the background check.”
Not to mention, President Trump’s 2019 budget is expected to cut spending for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration by $665 million. Additionally, Bloomberg reported the National Institute of Mental Health would see a 30 percent reduction in funding — a half a billion dollar decrease — in 2019.
THIS IS DIFFERENT
In the article, “The Righteous Anger of the Parkland’s shooting’s Teen Survivors” author Robinson Meyer, editor for The Atlantic, focuses on the importance of this shooting not only because it is the deadliest school shooting since Sandy Hook Elementary (2012) but because it’s the largest high-school shooting in the social media age. The survivors not only grief and tell their stories but are also calling for political action because they “understand the tragedy as adults but are as blameless for it as children.” Meyer writes that many of the victims were talking about the happenings as something that “just happens, not as an unforeseeable tragedy” because they have “visualized something like this before” and now we all visualize something like this happening to us. This cycle seems almost normal now. “Preventable, therefore political.”
I agree with Meyer, this shooting brings back the importance of stricter gun control. Myself, being a young adult and a student, I felt connected to these victims as they spoke of their lost peers and faculty. Watching the interviews of the survivors, reading their social media posts made me realize that we never think about this happening to us, until it does to us or someone we know.
Teens all over the country went back to school and felt scared or worried. Colleen Lance (16), told The Washington Post,
“It’s very anxious to go to school after a school shooting. It makes you more aware that you’re not safe.”
From personal experience at Morton College, I always feel safe in campus. That’s only because we have our very own campus Police Department, located in Building C, which we can dial (708) 656-8000 Ext. 2200 for any in-campus emergencies, and able to use one of over 30 emergency phones around campus. Although, reality is that we may never know when something like this could happen to our schools.
I began to question how other Morton College students felt about the subject. I asked the question; After hearing about the Florida high school shooting, do you think there should be stricter gun control? Which would include thorough universal background checks, more paperwork, various monthly and yearly examinations to obtain and keep a weapon(s).
I received a total of 68 anonymous votes.
57 voted yes, while only 11 voted no.
I originally asked for only a “yes or no” answer, although I received some comments on their opinions.
One student answered NO, but believes “the government, or schools themselves, should put more safety regulations.”
Another student, answered YES, and believes that “there should be fees added with the application process.”
A student that answered YES offered that, “besides stricter gun control, the government should provide more Americans with mental health awareness/help programs.”
STUDENTS STAND UP
Students of Stoneman Douglas demand action. Even when being interviewed by local news, shooting survivors like David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez were quick to call for action, and have been in various interviews. So far, they forced a CNN town hall and got new commitments from Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. There have been millions of dollars raised for protests such as The March for Our Lives and there’s a National School Walkout and many more to come according to Vox. Whether you think guns or mental health is the primary factor of mass shootings, whether you think the police and FBI failed for missing tips and taking action from that; it’s worth speaking out on. Let’s share our opinion, not simply ignore it. Bringing awareness to these issues is of extreme importance because these tragedies will keep resurfacing over and over if congress doesn’t act. Laws need improvement and that starts with raising our voices and concerns.