Politicians' Response to the Parkland Shooting

Like many of you, I’ve been following the aftermath of the massacre that unfolded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fl. just last week. After the shock of the attack faded, I watched the world respond to the tragedy. I felt an overwhelming sense of frustration at the carbon-copied response quacked out by politician after politician. Time and time again, they delivered the same well-wishes, expressing their thoughts yet dodging the major issue at hand: gun-control and reform. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan exemplified this half-hearted tactic in an interview following the Parkland shooting. He called the massacre a “horrific, horrific, horrible shooting,” but in regards to a course of action, he only stated that, “we need to pray… our hearts go out to these victims… I think, as public policy makers, we don’t just knee-jerk before we even have all the facts and the data.” 

This raises the question: how much data does the House Speaker need to convince him that comprehensive gun legislation is a necessity and not a “knee-jerk”? Ryan comes across uniformed in his assertion that taking action would be too rash. The facts and data supporting the need for gun reforms exist, and they are both horrifying and compelling. According to Gun Violence Archive, there have been 34 mass shootings in 2018 alone. Gun Violence Archive also reports that there have been four additional mass shootings in the days since the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on February 14, 2018. The map below (from Gun Violence Archive) depicts gun-related incidents across the country just 52 days into 2018. 

 

                                     

Gun advocates continue to argue that guns are not the problem. Few are willing to take action to expand gun restrictions, but they have come up with some suggestions. Many republicans, including President Trump, have proposed that teachers, or other school officials be armed in case of an active shooter. Some, including Fred Abt, father of one of the Parkland shooting victims, suggest that guns be kept locked on school campuses. Republicans in the House and Senate have also suggested raising the minimum age requirement to purchase firearms and allocating more money to mental health support and research.

                                    Photo by Jerry Kiesewetter (Image: https://unsplash.com/photos/wGyc1S_Rooc)

While some of these suggestions feel far from enough to enact any substantial change (except potentially amplifying dangerous situations), at least politicians are being forced to address these issues publicly. In the past, wishes of thoughts and prayers have been enough following mass shootings and other acts of violence. Politicians could mutter that precise phrase in the wake of a tragedy and manage to avoid the gun-control debate altogether. This particular mass shooting has been an entirely new situation, however, because the survivors are actively uniting and demanding action. Students from Parkland organized a forum to discuss courses of action, and they are organizing March For Our Lives, a march on Washington, D.C scheduled for March 24th. The voices of Marjory Stoneman Douglas students are powerful, and they don’t seem to be going anywhere.