Once again, the nation was devastated upon hearing about the deadliest school shooting in years at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 lives were lost (1). According to Darran Simon from CNN, there have already been 8 school shootings in 2018 — a number that is especially alarming given that it has only been 2 months into the year (2). The gun control debate has been ignited as many of the survivors of the shooting, like Emma González, are calling for political change (3). President Trump recently signed a ban on bump stocks — accessories that turn rifles into automatic weapons— that also were used to fatally slaughter innocent people in the Las Vegas shooting (4).
Almost immediately, Trump also began calling for armed teachers in schools, saying: “We have to have offensive capability to take these people out rapidly before they can do this kind of damage,” (5). However, the argument for more guns in schools falls flat when considering how several armed guards outside of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School failed to confront the shooter. One such guard, Scott Peterson, has subsequently resigned after being met with rampant criticism by Trump for not rushing to the aid of students (6). The urgency of this debate lies in the fact that if momentum is lost before any policy change can occur, Parkland will be lost in our memories until another mass shooting revives it again.
The political vendetta in this debate is protecting the freedom to bear arms vs. public safety. The logic of the former is broken down below:
- Having more guns in society will deter any malicious shooters from attacking people
- The 2nd amendment is a basic constitutional freedom against tyranny that should be protected. Some of the strongest champions for this idea include the National Rifle Association (NRA).
- Arming teachers and other staff in schools will specifically deter shooters from targeting schools
On the other hand, the latter argument holds that:
- Having more guns in schools leads to an increasingly militarized and dangerous school environment — due to alarming evidence that more guns inherently means more gun-related injuries and violence as a result (8).
- The Second Amendment is an archaic one that does more harm than good in today’s society. This can be proven with the absurd amount of mass shootings since Sandy Hook: 1,607 to be exact. (9).
- The shooter, Nickolas Cruz, legally purchased his firearms despite being too young to purchase alcohol.
The most the White House is willing to compromise in regards to gun control is raising the minimum age for a person to purchase an assault rifle and expanding background checks for mentally ill (1). In a recent CNN town hall, NRA Spokesperson, Dana Loesch, laid the blame on states who did not — or rather, could not — report convictions to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The NRA has invalidated the entire background check system through the outcome of a past 1997 NRA-backed lawsuit: Printz v. United States (7). Loesch did not mention how the NRA “opposes expanding firearm background check systems, because background checks don’t stop criminals from getting firearms,” as it mentions on its website (7).
The White House has mentioned that it is open to supporting changing the minimum age to purchasing AR-15 assault rifles proposed in a bill introduced by Senator Jeff Flake (R) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D) (9). Another bipartisan bill that is in the works is the Fix NICS Act, which would enforce how agencies report prior criminal records to the NICS (9). However, this bill is unlikely to garner GOP support unless concealed carry reciprocity (which would allow a person who is licensed to carry concealed firearms in one state to legally carry them in any state) is part of the bill.
It is clear that with the constant mass shooting tragedies in the U.S, raising the age limit for purchasing guns, banning bump stocks, and reducing the number of guns on school grounds are all necessary policy changes. Arming teachers and increasing the number of guns in schools would do little to solve the problem; if trained police officers whose job requires them to confront armed gunmen failed to act, why would we expect teachers and coaches who are already overworked and underpaid to confront the next school shooter? Trump should be extensively challenged to enact stricter laws and limit usage of guns as much as possible. It is the only way to stop another Parkland in the near future.
- To support the survivors of the Parkland Shooting, like Emma González, please consider donating to the official GoFundMe page to help families deal with medical and funeral bills: https://www.gofundme.com/stonemandouglasvictimsfund
- To learn more about how America stands on gun control, please watch: https://youtu.be/Bn6hVIISA6o
- If you’re interested in the NRA’s response to the Parkland shooting, consider watching this CNN town hall: https://youtu.be/4AtOU0dDXv8
- Trump pushes for ban on gun ‘bump stocks’. (2018, February 21). Retrieved February 28, 2018, from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-43135584
- Simon, D. (2018, February 15). There have been eight school shootings in 2018. And it’s only February. Retrieved February 28, 2018, from https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/01/us/school-shootings-in-2018/index.html
- Lowery, W. (2018, February 21). Emma González hated guns before. Now, she’s speaking out on behalf of her dead classmates. Retrieved February 28, 2018, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/emma-gonzalez-hated-guns-before-now-shes-speaking-out-on-behalf-of-her-dead-classmates/2018/02/21/00aea98a-175d-11e8-8b08-027a6ccb38eb_story.html?utm_term=.d9b387a2ab82
- Morales, C. (2017, October 11). What Happened in Vegas … Should Never Happen Again! • PVNN Inc. (NPO). Retrieved February 28, 2018, from https://pvnn.org/2017/10/11/happened-vegas-never-happen/
- Bandlamudi, A., & McCammon, S. (2018, February 24). Teachers Respond To Trump’s Push To Arm School Staff. Retrieved February 28, 2018, from https://www.npr.org/2018/02/24/588567643/trump-calls-to-arm-teachers-what-do-teachers-think
- Stewart, E. (2018, February 24). Multiple armed officers hung back during Florida school shooting, reports say. Retrieved February 28, 2018, from https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/2/24/17048720/florida-shooting-law-enforcement-gun
- Johnson, T. (2018, February 22). NRA national spokesperson Dana Loesch lied to Stoneman Douglas student Emma Gonzalez. Retrieved February 28, 2018, from https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2018/02/22/nra-national-spokesperson-dana-loesch-lied-stoneman-douglas-student-emma-gonzalez/219465
- Moyer, M. W. (2017, October 01). More Guns Do Not Stop More Crimes, Evidence Shows. Retrieved February 28, 2018, from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/more-guns-do-not-stop-more-crimes-evidence-shows/
- Nilsen, E. (2018, February 20). Here’s what Congress might actually do on gun control. Retrieved February 28, 2018, from https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/2/20/17027738/gun-control-bills-congress-parkland-florida-marjory-stoneman-douglas-shooting