The Florida School Shooting and the American Obsession with Guns

It was an absolutely heartrendingly tragic loss of innocent lives at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida in the United States on 14 February 2018, but it was hardly new. Various such incidents have happened across the US and continue to occur with shocking regularity. The easy availability of guns in the country, the constitutional right to bear arms and the hugely strong gun lobby of the country are often cited as being among the reasons that result in these shooting incidents.

17 were gunned down

14 students and 3 faculty members aged 14 to 49 were killed by 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz in a school. He arrived in an Uber and pulled out an AR-15 a semi-automatic weapon and began shooting people in five classrooms on two floors. He then discarded the rifle and escaped along with the children fleeing from the school. He was arrested about an hour later.

Disturbing profile

Cruz confessed to his crimes when he was arrested. He had been expelled for disciplinary reasons from the same school where he shot and killed 17. His social profile on Instagram (since deleted) featured many disturbing posts and pictures of him brandishing knives and guns. He was against the law enforcement authorities and anti-fascist organisations according to his posts. 

School shootings in the US

There have been numerous shooting incidents in American schools; many of the incidents causing injuries and even deaths. On 22nd January, a student was injured in a New Orleans school and also in Texas on the same date. Two 15-year-old students were killed on 23rd January and two 15-year-old students were injured in California wherein a 12-year-old girl was arrested.

Unique to the US?

Many including American lawmakers have alleged that such school shootings by students are seen mostly in the United States and few such incidents take place elsewhere. This incident has been so extreme that it triggered agitated discussions everywhere.

The gun debate reignited

Traditionally America has been a country of gun lovers. The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution which reads, "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," has resulted in a public policy that makes it very easy for people to buy guns; even deadly automatic weapons.

America’s powerful gun lobby

The Americans have a significant culture of hunting and recreational shooting, with many hobbyists amassing huge collections of arms for their personal collections. The country’s gun lobby; the NRA (National Rifle Association) advocates for gun rights and is known to be an extremely powerful lobby.

Buying guns is easy

Background checks for buying guns are negligible. Practically anyone can legally buy guns. In the Parkland Florida shooting a well, the shooter was using a legally acquired assault rifle; a lethal weapon that is easy to procure in the United States.

There is a political angle

The current ruling party in the United States, the Republican or Grand Old Party is seen to be very close to the gun lobby. In fact, the gun lobby is known to fund election campaigns and more.

Vested interests

As such the party currently led by Donald Trump is seen to be reluctant to curb gun acquisition and use for political and personal gain. Many Americans see the GOP’s reluctance to control guns as protection of the gun lobby for personal gain.

This defence

There is a significant proportion of the American population that believes guns are not the problem; that there is no need to either ban them or make their acquisition more difficult than it currently is. Often gun supporters that belong to a particular political persuasion trot out these excuses. 

Appeal for gun control

Celebrities and TV personalities frequently speak out in favour of strict gun laws. Jimmy Kimmel gives voice to the feelings of many Americans when he speaks about the rolling back of regulations meant to keep firearms out of the hands of mentally ill people.  I watched the video and had one question: 8 out of 10 Americans agree that a teenager shouldn’t have an AR-15? So 20% Americans are OK with this? Maybe this is the problem?

Do you have something interesting you would like to share? Write to us at [email protected]