It feels like just yesterday when I opened social media and was met with the heartbreaking words of a mother who had lost her daughter that day. On that day, February 14, 2018, 17 innocent lives were taken, and 17 more people were injured. The shooting in Parkland, Florida left an indelible mark on people nationwide. I was a student thousands of miles away from the horrific incident, and yet I, along with many others, felt an indescribable pain. Yet, that pain, especially from those directly affected, has been used to fuel a revolution. Let’s take a look at how far we have come more than 3 years later.
Looking directly at the case, it remains unresolved. According to KTLA 5, the accused shooter’s lawyers have affirmed that if offered a life sentence, he will plead guilty. However, prosecutors are fighting for the Capital Punishment. Victims’ families are divided on the desired outcome. The courtrooms are filled with lawsuits and other charges related to the shooting. It may be many years until this case is legally resolved.
A year after the shooting, in 2019, Florida’s state Legislature passed a bill allowing Florida’s teachers to be armed after completion of a training course. This poses the question- will more guns protect more people against guns?
When looking at statistics regarding teenage gun violence, the Center for Homeland Defense and Security shares that 2018 experienced 116 shooting incidents at K-12 schools. That is the most number of reported incidents since the tracking began in 1970, and more than double the 55 incidents that occured in 2017. The data shares that 11 of the incidents in 2018 involved an active shooter, and took the lives of 51 victims.
With the facts being crystal clear, the US Government is attempting to make progress at more gun control restrictions. Some of the introduced bills and actions taken include:
Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act of 2020: offers an altered federal structure for gun regulation, including raising the legal age of owning firearms 21, instead of 18 [Status: Introduced]
While gun regulations are being introduced in the federal government, it is just a baby step. The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 has not passed through the Senate, and the Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act of 2020 has only been introduced. If you feel strongly about these bills, please reach out to your representatives to urge movement.
Just recently, legislation regarding wider background checks in obtaining firearms was brought back to the US House of Representatives and the US Senate. With a new administration in office, and some newly elected representatives, Americans may see more action with these bills.
The Parkland Community
In the face of tragedy and the heart of pain, the Parkland community used their voices to fight for reform. With March for Our Lives, survivors started a nationwide movement. Another inspirational voice comes from a teacher at the shooting. Using her platform, Five Foot One Teacher, this teacher posts teacher-based content and has discussed her experience at the Parkland shooting. She strives to provide hope for people, especially students, nationwide.
This community is not letting their experience be defined by the pain and suffering they experienced, but instead, are using their voices and the nationwide attention to advocate for reform. Their actions and resilience are inspiring, especially in the fight against gun violence.
We still have a long way to go in the fight against gun violence. It should not take a school shooting for people to realize that guns need to be strictly regulated. These weapons have the ability to take the lives of anyone and everyone, and should not be arbitrarily handed out the next buyer in line. If you feel strongly about this issue, please reach out to your representatives to urge change. You can also work with organizations like March for Our Lives to make your voice heard.
Additional Outside Resources Used (along websites directly linked in the article):
* All facts came from outside sources linked below the article or in the article. Please refer to these websites to learn more. I am not claiming any of this information as my own.