Will campuses lead the way on gun control?

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Signs of despair, anger from Parkland.

Signs of despair, anger from Parkland.

By Ludy Astraquillo Ongkeko, Ph.D.

It has become an unwelcome encore of sorts. The very same story seems to replace the most recent shooting tragedy. The only difference: The geographical location and casualty details as the deplorable facts unfold.

The high school shooting that took place on Valentine’s Day reported extremely sad facts and figures: At least 17 people were killed when a gunman opened fire at a high school in Parkland, a city in Florida’s suburb of Fort Lauderdale.

Police identified the shooter as Nikolas de Jesus Cruz,19, a former student of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the same school that was the scene of the irreparable damage in morale and loss of life. One teacher was reportedly heard: “The gunman had threatened students in the past and had been banned from campus.” Authorities did not pick up on that or maybe chose to ignore.

Immediate reaction to such shootings was almost a consensus: What will it take for Washington to stop the killings and protect the lives of Americans? The 1999 Columbine High School massacre that took place in Colorado jolted us from our sense of complacency about personal safety. This led to more shootings until the 2012 Sandy Hook incident where 20 schoolchildren were killed. We despaired because Congress did nothing.

Similar after-shooting scenes have taken place where photos of investigators are displayed, rummaging through the alleged shooter’s life in reference to clues, to whatever signs appear to have led to the deplorable rampage. Standing out is one distinct question: Did the gunman obtain his firearms legally?

Scenes that keep coming back: The 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, top; and the 2018 Parkland mass killings. Photos by CBS News, Getty Images

Scenes that keep coming back: The 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, top; and the 2018 Parkland mass killings. Photos by CBS News, Getty Images

There are more questions than answers: How was the shooter able to purchase the assault-style weapons legally? Is there a history of psychological troubles? Was the alleged killer the subject of a restraining order that could have made him ineligible to own firearms?

However difficult it is to purchase firearms through a federally licensed gun shop, the buyer could have gone to private sales at gun shows or over the Internet where it is known that background checks are not required.

Reaction to the Parkland shooting was swift.

Lawmakers were described as “mouthing empty words of sympathy.” The National Rifle Association was reported as having “quieted” its Twitter account while gun control advocates took up their same identical stand. President Trump, it was learned, “waited a day,” as he sought to blame the Democrats and President Obama for the Parkland tragedy.

In the meantime, a nation mourns. Other communities outside the state join all who bemoan how lack of legislative action continues to prevail.

Will the response of the Parkland students who marched to their state capital and to Washington make a difference to the pleas for an end to gun violence? The students have vowed that Parkland will be scene of the last mass shooting.

There have been too many similar tragedies that have occurred. Thus far, have there been proofs undertaken by Congress to conduct the very needed immediate action to reduce the easy availability of military-style weaponry?

Meanwhile, the nation is still reeling from the Valentine’s Day where young lives came to a halt so suddenly. What unheard of action is being disseminated around the powers-that-be implying that classroom teachers should be armed? By the same token, is the populace being told to hold its breath?

© The FilAm 2018



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