Gun Control: Where It Stands One Year After Parkland

The Gun Violence Archive defines a mass shooting as any incident in which “four or more are shot and/or killed in a single event, at the same general time and location, not including the shooter.”

One year ago, on February 14th, a day devoted to love, Nickolas Cruz walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and shot and killed 17 people.

This marked the country’s 29th mass shooting in under two months. The year would go on to see 323 total mass shootings, three of those being school shootings. 387 people would die.

In one year.

On March 14th, I and thousands of students across the country walked out of our schools in protest and in honor.

For 17 minutes, for the 17 lives lost just one month before; students stood outside in the freezing cold, stood chanting in their hallways, wrote letters to their legislatures, and did so much more.

Related: Remembering Parkland One Year Later

We were sick of “thoughts and prayers”. What we wanted was change, what we needed was policy.

But where are protests heard? Were our voices listened to?

An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found that 51% of Americans said that laws regarding the sale of firearms should be stricter. While this may seem like a high number, still over half of Americans, it is disappointing to note that just a year ago that percentage was 71%.

While support of stricter gun laws drops, the number of deaths by firearms rises. The Guardian reports that gun deaths have risen to the highest level in twenty years.

But you don’t need The Guardian to tell you that. You see it everywhere. On the T.V., your social media, everywhere. The faces of victims never seem to leave your feed, and you certainly can’t erase them from your mind.

Last year, The American College of Physicians (ACP) even released a paper in which it deemed gun violence a “public health crisis.”

In a tweet released on November 7th, hours before shots would erupt in the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, the NRA mocked this ACP paper and told “anti-gun” doctors to “stay in their lane.”

Related: Doctors Outraged at the NRA for Telling Them to Stay in Their Lane

Despite a strong push back by Republicans and the NRA, there seems to be a possibility of gun control policy moving through the legislative branch. Emphasis on a possibility, and take the words “gun control” very lightly.

In February of last year, following the Parkland shooting, President Trump expressed his support for universal background checks and raising the minimum age for purchase of a firearm to 21.

However, on the year anniversary of Parkland, President Trump’s speech left out the words gun violence entirely. Instead, he stated that his administration had greatly succeeded in protecting students from “school violence.”

The only reference to gun violence President Trump made was regarding his admin’s banning of bump stocks, a device that attaches to firearms to make them trigger faster.

One glimmer of hope currently moving through the legislative branch is H.R.8, a bill that would expand background checks to all gun sales.

If approved by Congress, H.R.8 will become the most significant piece of gun control legislation passed in the last decade. Although, some speculate that it will not make it past the Republican majority in the Senate, proving that gun control is still an extremely partisan issue.

There seems to be a lot being said, and not a lot that’s been done. A lot of promises have been made, but even more of those promises have been redacted or completely reversed.

Gun violence - of all kinds, not just mass shootings - has claimed the lives of too many before their time. This isn’t about politics anymore, it’s about human lives.

But a wall is the “real” national emergency, right?