Usually, February 14 is a cheerful day brightened by flowers, chocolate, and the like. But in 2018, the widely recognized day took on a second connotation — the “Florida school shooting” when a disturbed teenager opened fire on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Fox News offers a timeline of the events that took place, starting from when the shooter (later identified as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz) took an Uber to the high school and was dropped off around 2:20 P.M. He began to stalk the school building, setting off smoke grenades in order to activate the fire alarms. When students and faculty fled their classrooms, he attacked them with an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle. Around 2:30, he managed to escape the building.
By then, the news had gotten out. Deputies arrived and the school was put on lockdown. Students were dismissed from the school. Meanwhile, Cruz stopped by Walmart for a soda and briefly entered a McDonald’s. Just after 4:00 P.M, a police officer apprehended the teenager. It wasn’t until nearly 6:00 P.M. that the school was cleared by SWAT teams and students were able to reunite with their parents.
Seventeen died as a result of the shooting — some students, some teachers. A girl headed for college. A National Merit Scholar semifinalist. An assistant football coach who threw himself in front of students, shielding them from bullets.
Later, investigations regarding Nikolas Cruz were made: an orphaned teenager living with a family friend after the passing of his former foster parents, Cruz was expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School because of disciplinary issues. Struggling with depression, Cruz had received mental health treatment for some time, Broward County Mayor Beam Furr told CNN. He was never viewed as dangerous, but his fellow students considered him “creepy” and “weird,” and described him as “an outcast” and “a loner.”
Some disturbing incidents have come to light, such as a comment left by the username “nikolas cruz” on a YouTube video: “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.” The owner of the channel reported the comment to the FBI. Students reported that Cruz posted worrisome images of firearms on Instagram and that he constantly talked about “guns, knives, and hunting.” Some students even joked amongst themselves that if anyone were to “shoot up the school,” it would be Cruz.
In the wake of this terrifying incident, the call for gun control has been renewed. Several Marjory Stoneman Douglas High students spoke passionately at a rally held a few days after the shooting. Emma Gonzalez blamed guns, saying, “We need to pay attention to the fact that this isn’t just a mental health issue. He wouldn’t have hurt that many students with a knife!” She also expressed frustration about the simplicity of obtaining firearms, Cruz having legally purchased his semi-automatic. Carly Novel declared “this happened because of guns, this happened because of the relaxed gun laws that we have.”
From the other side, World Magazine quotes freshman James Ciaramello, who was “heartbroken by the massacre but skeptical firearms regulations could have prevented it” as saying, “Tighter gun control, it’s not gonna help. There’s always a way around it.” As we saw from the Las Vegas shooting last October, those who plan such murders are fully capable of following legal standards for acquiring guns, then using their new weaponry for their own purposes. That, or they’ll illegally procure their weapons; when seeking to kill, one’s not particularly concerned about thievery either.
Therefore, the gun controversy continues. Granted, guns do cause pain and destruction and heartbreak. On the flipside, they can also prevent these things. And when these weapons are in the hands of the wrong people, it’s hard to fight effectively without equivalent or superior weapons.
“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,” says the now-controversial 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Currently, some are blatantly misusing their “right to bear arms.” But how can “the security of a free state” be maintained without sufficient defense mechanisms?
It’s a difficult balance to strike — we haven’t hit upon it yet, and it could take awhile. In the meantime, as Marjory Stoneman Douglas High attempts to heal from a disastrous Valentine’s Day and our leaders strategize how to prevent such a Valentine’s Day from ever occurring again, we need to pray. And we need to trust in the Lord.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. -Psalm 34:18.
“Florida school shooting timeline.” http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/02/28/florida-school-shooting-timeline.html
“These are the victims of the Florida school shooting.” https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/15/us/florida-shooting-victims-school/index.html
“What to Know About Alleged Florida School Shooter Nikolas Cruz.” http://time.com/5159134/who-is-the-florida-shooter-parkland-nicolas-cruz/?xid=homepage
“Sheriff’s Office Had Received About 20 Calls Regarding Suspect: The Latest on the Florida School Shooting.” http://time.com/5158678/what-to-know-about-the-active-shooter-situation-at-florida-high-school/
“‘Shame On You.’ Florida Shooting Survivors Demand Change at Gun Control Rally.” http://time.com/5164570/emma-gonzalez-speech-parkland/?xid=homepagehttp://time.com/5164570/emma-gonzalez-speech-parkland
“Florida students rally for gun control.” https://world.wng.org/content/florida_students_rally_for_gun_control