After years of mass shootings throughout the United States and relatively little changes to laws to mitigate such incidents from taking place, we are finally beginning to see some hope for progress that may save countless lives going into the future of our country. Unfortunately, many people needlessly suffered and died in order to push our politicians to take the matter more seriously. The latest horror story came out of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. On February 14, 2018 Nikolas Cruz, a former student with a history of mental illness, used an AR-15 semi-automatic weapon to murder 17 people. 14 of those people were students and 3 were staff members. The students were 14 year old Alyssa Alhadeff, 14 year old Martin Duque Anguiano, 17 year old Nicholas Dworet, 14 year old Jaime Guttenberg, 14 year old Cara Loughran, 14 year old Gina Montalto, 17 year old Joaquin Oliver, 14 year old Alaina Petty, 18 year old Meadow Pollack, 17 year old Helena Ramsay, 14 year old Alex Schachter, 16 year old Carmen Schentrup, 15 year old Luke Hoyer and 15 year old Peter Wang. The staff members were 35 year old Scott Beigel, 37 year old Aaron Feis and 49 year old Chris Hixon.
These people innocently and needlessly suffered and lost their lives. Their parents, friends and family will never see them again. Their fellow schoolmates are forever traumatized by experiencing a massacre first hand. This is what happens when we as a society fail to protect each other and especially our children, whom look to us to protect them.
Many times in the past, gun violence resulted in deaths but no changes to laws to prevent such events from happening again. However, as alluded to earlier, there are signs of hope for change this time. Students around Florida have arranged rallies to demand change in gun laws to end the violence that was bought upon them. Students have marched to the capitol of Florida and even to the White House to demand change. They demand that this will be the last time such violence can be allowed to occur. This is unlike any response to gun violence that our country has ever seen and it is already showing signs that it will result in successfully changing gun laws and taking steps towards preventing these acts from happening in the future.
President Trump held a listening session on Wednesday where he met with family and friends of gun violence victims around the country to discuss ideas to stop school shootings. The President vowed to students at the meeting to have tougher background checks and mental health screenings for people trying to buy guns. He also would be open to banning bump stocks which allows semi-automatic weapons to act as automatic weapons. He is even considering arming teachers to be the first responders in the event of a school shooting.
These student are making a difference with their protesting. It is wonderful to see that they are influencing the President towards making it harder for people to buy semi-automatic and automatic weapons and taking measure to prevent future shootings like this from happening again. However, as many students have suggested, much more than what has been talked about needs to be done. Here are some ideas that if implemented may make a big difference in preventing future shootings from happening:
- Ban the legal selling of semi-automatic and automatic weapons. There is no need for them. These are weapons of war. The Second Amendment was made for civilians to be able to defend themselves. Weapons of war are not necessary for defense.
- Extreme vetting must be done for anyone who wants to purchase a legal gun.
- Law enforcement around the country must devote much more energy into breaking up the black market weapon business. This will prevent many criminals from getting guns illegally.
- Heighten security at schools. There should only be one entrance door. All other doors must be locked from the outside but can serve as emergency exits from the inside. There must be metal detectors and scanners when entering the school. There also must be cameras in the school, around the school and focused on all doors. Security must be watching these cameras at all times while one or two armed security guards trained to defend remain in front of the school entrance all day. One or two security guards should also keep watch and walk around the outside of the school throughout the day. The outside security should not be allowed to come into the school for any reason other than to defend against an attacker and the security guards walking around, guarding in front and watching the cameras must have the ability to wirelessly communicate. There needs to be trained security. Teachers are not police and should not be relied upon to do a police officers job. They do not have the proper training and cannot focus on teaching and potentially being a superhero at the same time. Such security as this can and should also be applied to all public buildings like theaters, museums and hospitals.
- All workplace environments including schools, hospitals, and businesses of all sorts must have mandatory training of all members in being able to detect people who may be suffering from a mental illness and may pose a threat to themselves or others. In schools, this includes making students aware of how to detect when someone might not be well and may be a threat also. We need to reach out as a society and provide help to those in need to avoid their suffering and to prevent the possibility of them doing something terrible. When someone suspects something may not be right, they must be trained to report it to the proper authority, be that a psychologist or whoever. Individuals can even reach out to help that person as well just by providing friendship.
These are just some ideas that can help prevent needless suffering and death. There are many more out there but we need to share them so that horrors like this recent school shooting never have to happen again.