Will Parkland be the catalyst to finally put a ‘safety lock’ on loose gun regulations?


Genevieve Guenther

Amanda Hagy, Contributing Writer

According to reports done by ABC15 in Arizona, in 2018 there has been a total of 34 mass shootings thus far. More specifically there has been 18 school shootings with the most recent one occurring in Parkland, Florida. Outcry and questions have been repeatedly raised, with no solid response or solutions being actively implemented.  

A New York Times article entitled, “How Many Children Have to Get Shot?”, captured parents and students pleas with President Donald Trump, attempting to take a stance and spark a conversation about revamped gun regulations. Trump’s response and “solutions” consisted of surveying the crowd to gather a consensus from other politicians and the public on allowing and training teachers and school employees to carry guns. This supposedly would make our schools, “safer” by just adding more guns to the fire.  

The United States for continuous decades has been seen as the front-running superpower on the world stage. While ironically following the outline our forefathers left and shown specifically within the second amendment stating… 

“. . .the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” 

While the amendment originally was meant to ensure one’s individual safety, it has been greatly influenced by a gun culture that currently carries a negative stigma and has resulted in mass causality.  

Why is the United States the only westernized country with catastrophic numbers? What are other countries doing to prevent their citizens from living in a “wild, wild west mentality ?”

In an article written by BBC News’s correspondent Katie Beck, she compared and analyzed the policies following the Port Arthur shooting that occurred in Sydney, Australia in 1996. The massacre included the killing of 35 people and wounding 23 additional survivors. 

 This massive shooting prompted the Australian Prime Minister John Howard to mark a transition to change. He stated, “We have an opportunity in this country not to go down the American path.”  

Howard’s words have held a lot of meaning since. After this decree to activate change, each of the six Australian states enacted sweeping gun laws. Additionally, this went along with banning semi-automatic rifles and shotguns, that have powerful abilities to cause mass death.  

Furthermore, USA Today’s, Sean Rossman continued to compare Sydney and their success of eliminated fatality. An academic journal published by the University of Sydney, entitled, “Journal of the American Medical Association”, stated since the 1996 incident there has not been a single mass shooting defined by having five or more individuals killed.  

This is additionally interesting to look at in comparison to how the United States has acted after over 30 shootings in just the last two months. An article published by The Guardian compared the United States data from 2013 to the most recent mass shooting less than two weeks ago with a total of 1,624 shootings in just 1,870 days. 

The article highlighted the point that the United States has the highest rate of any other developed country. Given the article also references that Americans nation-wide own an approximate 265 million guns.  

This is an epidemic problem.   

According to the Gifford’s Law Center, while you must be 18 to buy any sort of handgun and handgun ammunition, there is no restriction on purchasing a long gun or its ammunition in most states.  

41 percent of suicide deaths among individuals under 21 occurred in 2014 due to a firearm according to another article by Gifford’s Law Center. This helps to also question and reaffirm why the legal drinking age stays set at 21. This additionally follows along with evidence presented in an article done by the Daily Mail that stated, “young adults” from the ages of 18 to approximately 25 should be treated vastly different in such settings as the criminal justice system because until age 25 their brains are still “maturing.”  

Another argument that has been made is even if guns were to be banned, the black market would still find a way to get them in the country. The Gifford’s Law Center found statistics done by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives in 2000; their findings found that trafficking issues of illegal firearms, over 40,000 were attributed to the large access to firearms and make the dealers a threat to public safety for not complying with laws.  

This report went on to state that within the ATF reports that were done by random, “. . .uncovered that a large percentage of dealers violate federal law” continuing to state this is a growing percentage. This further went onto state additionally that not only do 40 percent of the guns acquired in the United States come from an unlicensed dealer, but nearly 80 percent of Mexico’s array of illegal firearms, and a majority of Canada’s guns used in crime instances were found to be illegally imported from the United States. 

 Mental illness is also a major factor in regard to crime and gun rates. According to an article done by the New York Times, written by Linda Qiu and Justin Bank, a 2016 academic study concluded only four percent of violence is associated with serious mental illness. Additionally, an interesting comment made by gun violence experts additionally mentioned within the article stated that restricting sales from individuals with mental illness that are deemed dangerous will help. Additionally, the gun experts stated that the following should be included in improving and revising gun regulations, “banning assault weapons and barring sales to convicted violent criminals.” This will overall show to be more effective than just primarily focusing on “every mass shooter being mentally ill.”  

The overall question in all of this is what has made Parkland so different from other shootings, and how has this not diminished quite yet into just another statistic? In an article by CNN’s Hadas Gold, she explained why this is still a hot topic. An intriguing quote from the article stated, “Parkland’s survivors and their supporters are old enough to organize, tweet, stage walkouts, and protest- which they did in droves- prompting even more media coverage.” Gold continued to state that, “the students not only took to Twitter but demanded action from lawmakers.”  

Gold continued to state that there had been 1,024 mentions of “gun control” from major news networks such as CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. An interesting comment within the article stated that when the Las Vegas shooting occurred, there was only 724 mentions on CNN, FOX, and MSNBC of the shooting and just a mere 110 on ABC, CBS, and NBC. This also can be attributed to Hurricane Maria that had taken place in a similar time frame greatly impacting Puerto Rico but still displays how common these events are. It was easier to put on the back burner than focus on the problem.  

With answers still lingering in the air, will the second amendment continue to be loosely interpreted and action still remain stagnant?  How long will we continue to make excuses with the facts in front of us that mental illness is while a factor not the main cause of gun violence? Lack of gun regulations and easy access is proven to have a greater link to the overall trigger-happy stigma America continues to grasp tightly. Will it take every American to have a connection to someone who walked out the door full of life and heads to bed cold, lifeless, and in a dirt-bed, to enforce an overall safety lock for the public’s safety? 

These are the questions. Will Parkland students be the radical difference? Only time and action will tell.