One Nation, Under Guns

As of Valentine's Day 2018, at least 17 people are dead and approximately 14 people wounded in Parkland, Florida.  They were allegedly attacked by a former student of Marjory Stone Douglas High School, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz.  The majority of the victims were apparently either students or employees of the school.  The weapon used by the suspect was an AR-15 hunting rifle.  Reportedly this is now the second-deadliest school-based shooting incident in the United States, after the Sandy Hook School tragedy in Connecticut where 26 people (mostly children) were murdered.  Cruz was reportedly arrested not far from the school and as of February 15th faced 17 counts of premeditated murder.

According to Florida Senator Bill Nelson, "(Cruz) wore a gas mask and... he set off the fire alarm so that the kids would come pouring out of the classroom[s] into the hall." 

The gun used by Cruz was purchased legally, according to ATF investigators.  Cruz was allegedly expelled from school relating to behavioral issues.  The social media accounts and postings of Cruz have come under scrutiny.  Reportedly some of it included "images of knives, guns, and anti-Islamic content."  Cruz's parents are reportedly deceased, with his mother having died late in 2017 and his father having passed away several years ago.
 
 
As fresh as this event is, some predictable reactions and observations are taking place.  This includes news reporters and public officials alike.
  • "Our thoughts and prayers are with you."
  • Criticism of the National Rifle Association.
  • Defense of the National Rifle Association.
  • Suggestions that arming school personnel is a common-sense option.
  • Mention of "mental health" support shortcomings
  • "I believe in the Second Amendment".
 
 
 
In the meanwhile, people are dying.
 
 
 
 
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the United States had over 33,000 gun-related deaths in 2016.  This is yet another school-based shooting less than 45 days into the new year.
 
So many people are afraid.
 
Afraid of public officials.
Afraid of the gun lobby.
Afraid of being labeled as "soft on crime/terror".
Afraid of Second Amendment absolutists.
 
Most of all, people are afraid of being responsible adults.  Children are paying the price for our cultural cowardice regarding firearms.
 
If the recent past is any indicator, for all of the pundits who clamor for change, there will likely be no substantive public policy measures taken in the aftermath of this tragedy.  Just patronizing talk about "bipartisanship", "getting beyond politics", or "finding common ground".
 
That this latest tragedy happened in a demonstrably middle-class setting of suburban Miami is not likely to move the needle on any public policy reforms.  Certainly, during the 45 administration, nothing happened in the aftermath of the Las Vegas mass shooting in 2017.  It is also observed that the Republican Party controls the Senate and the House of Representatives.  In the days to come, there needs to be a reckoning among the American public.  People have to make it known what they are willing to culturally tolerate and what is not tolerable.  People have to be willing to challenge and embarrass public officials.  They also need to be willing to replace public officials.
 
Americans have no excuses.  People are going to have to take political action or stop being surprised at these events as they occur-- as abhorrent as the notion may be.

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