Tori Foster, Staff Writer
Just a year ago, on Feb.14, 2018, a 19-year-old gunman entered Stoneman Douglas High School with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and opened fire on 17 former students leaving them unresponsive. Staff members and 17 other students were left wounded within a six-minute time frame. The Parkland shooting is now known as one of the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history.
After the tragedy many student survivors demanded change to gun control laws and school safety. Three weeks later, Florida state lawmakers passed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. The act placed restrictions on having guns in high schools and made any school threats a second-degree felony.
Sadly, since the act been passed there have been hundreds of local threats to high schools in the Parkland area that have resulted in many arrests. According to the Broward Sheriff’s Office data, there has been 691 threats made against county schools last year in 2018, more than the two previous years combined. Also, the Miami-Dade Public Schools said they have received 59 school threats since the beginning of the 2018-19 school year and at least 12 students have been arrested for making threats since 2019 started.
It is not surprising that the U.S. has a pattern of high incarceration rates and that it has recently become a phenomenon. In 1970, the incarceration rate was only 160 per 100,000 residents. It rose to 220 in 1980, to 460 in 1990, and to 690 in 2000; it continued to rise until 2008. Most homicides in the U.S. are committed with firearms.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act is a great law to have in place for the safety of the children, even though the law does increase the mass incarceration rate. State legislatures, both Republican and Democratic controlled, have passed 76-gun control laws
in the past year. The new gun laws implemented a new minimum-age requirement and expanded background checks. In fact, the omnibus bill in Florida help raised the minimum age to purchase a firearm in the state to 21 and extended the waiting period to three days. Around the U.S. there has been a trend to pass at least one-gun control measure in the past couple of years.
Last month, U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, a California Democrat, introduced the HR8 bill. According to the title, the bill is “To require a background check for every firearm sale.” HR8 requires that any loan, gift and sale of firearms be processed by a gun store. There is no extra fees or paperwork and the same permanent record-keeping apply as if a person just bought a new gun from the store. If a person loans their gun to a friend without going to the gun store, they run the risk of sharing the same penalty as a convicted violent felon. Likewise, when the friend returns the gun, another trip to the gun store is necessary, or the person can face a felony. Not to mention, HR8 effectively bans handguns for persons aged 18 to 20. The bill authorizes unlimited fees to be imposed by regulation.
The real questions are: will we ever have full protection as citizens? Should there be additional charges for these students who make school threats to prevent future school shooting or for even gun violence? Should school employees be able to carry concealed weapons on campus? Should the rules be stricter or looser? And is there any place we can fully feel safe?
I believe every day we move forward to making the world safer place for everybody, but our first step in finding a solution is identifying the problem.