The Florida Shooting: We cannot keep doing nothing



There have been 33 mass shootings in the United States in just the six weeks of 2018, totaling 52 deaths and 110 injuries from these incidents alone. Compared to Australia, who has not had a fatal mass shooting since 1996 and the United Kingdom, who has not had a school shooting since then either, it is clear that America needs to make a change.

The semi-automatic weapon used in the Parkland, Florida school shooting can fire roughly 120 rounds per minute. Under federal law, you are required to be at least 21 to buy a handgun from a firearms dealer, but only 18 to buy semi-automatic rifles. Florida has a 3-day waiting period for handgun purchases, but after a short background check at a gun store, you can walk out with an AR-15 rifle, magazines and ammunition.

This is not the first time that semi-automatic weapons have caused civil destruction. Six of the deadliest mass shootings in the United States over the past decade have used a semi-automatic rifle, including the ones in Las Vegas, Orlando, Virginia Tech and the Sandy Hook school shooting. As a nation, it is essential to learn from these tragedies and respect the grieving, the injured and the deceased, we must attack the root cause and prevent further occurances.

In the wake of two national tragedies, Michael Ryan’s massacre of 16 people and Thomas Hamilton’s murder of 16 school children, the United Kingdom has developed some of the strictest gun laws. Ryan’s shooting led to the banishment of all modern semi-automatic rifles, while Hamilton’s shooting led to the banning of all handguns.

For possession of other firearms in the U.K., you must go through a rigorous process to obtain a shotgun or firearm certificate, which is subject to review every five years. Similar to the United Kingdom, Australia also hit a turning point after a semi-automatic rifle left 35 dead. This tragedy led to the introduction of lengthier background checks for gun buyers and a ban on automatic and semi-automatic weapons.

The United States has missed turning points. Orlando, Las Vegas, Columbine, Virginia Tech, and now Parkland, FL have all suffered because of our unwillingness to learn from the past, but Parkland must be the last.

Out of context, the Second Amendment advocates for civilian gun rights. The misconception that all citizens have the right to bear arms has led to low gun restrictions and as a consequence, several devastating tragedies. However, the Second Amendment states, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

In 1776, guns were used in a disbanding militia, the Second Amendment gave soldiers the right to carry arms for the state’s self-defense. In 2018, firearms have strayed from just an object of self-defense. In the wrong hands, they have become a source of attack and vengefulness that must be addressed with stricter gun control laws.

Parkland, Florida was not the first fatal shooting from a semi-automatic weapon in the United States, and that has been our failure. We cannot continue to fight fire with fire, but pour water on the flame and attack the root cause.

On Wednesday, a school was targeted, but on Sunday, it could be a mall, on Monday, a movie theatre, or on Tuesday, a concert. Any large group or gathering is threatened until our nation learns to build from these tragic events and address what has caused our loss and grief.