Young, ambitious teenagers, a football coach, an athletic director, and a geography teacher. On February 14th 2018, they were among the 17 people killed when a nineteen-year-old gunman opened fire with a legally purchased semi-automatic rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida. It was the deadliest high school shooting in the U.S.
All these kids had a bright future ahead of them, and their dreams were snatched from them in only six minutes of death and tragedy. Six harrowing minutes that obliterated what was supposed to be an ordinary day of school. The significance of this appalling event opened the debate about gun control laws in America, and sparked a youth-led revolt demanding legislative action. The survivor’s lives were changed forever, and many went on to become activists, founding the Never Again movement. On March 24, they planned the March for Our Lives, gathering more than 200,000 people in Washington D.C. Still, the impact on the Parkland community has been poignant, as many students suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. In March 2019, shortly after the first anniversary of the shooting, two Parkland survivors committed suicide.
Now, two years after the Parkland shooting 2,641 kids have been killed with guns. Mass shootings are still a gut-wrenching reality. But, what has changed?
- While Senate leaders continue to block gun safety legislation in Congress, there is reason to celebrate: after Parkland, 32 states have signed over 110 gun control bills into law.
- Almost a month after the gunfire, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act was passed by the Florida legislature, in March 2018. The bill banned everyone under 21 from acquiring firearms, and assured there were background checks on every buyer. Restriction followed in 11 other states such as New York, Vermont and California.
- In February 2019, the universal background check bill was passed by the U.S House. This was the first major federal gun legislation in over two decades. It demanded background checks on every single gun purchase.
- The survivors of the shooting, and organizers of March for our Lives are now attending some of the most prestigious schools, like Harvard University and Columbia, while continuing to rally for gun control action.
It is worrying that almost every school in America has to practice the protocol in case of a shooting, and even elementary schools have regular red code drills. The gun culture in the United States is the unique root of this problem. In fact, America has more guns than people; there are 120.5 firearms per every 100 citizens. The solution is simple: a study by the economist Richard Florida found that social indicators such as immigration, stress, and mental illness didn’t correlate with gun deaths, but there was one thing that certainly did: states with tighter gun control laws have fewer gun-related deaths. So, how is it that one of the world’s most developed nations can’t ensure it’s people’s safety? Whose daughter or son will have to die before determined gun control action is taken? While politicians send half-hearted thoughts and prayers on Twitter, their pockets are being loaded with checks from the National Rifle Association. Without drastic change, thousands more will die. This life saving action is needed, now.