The Valentine’s Day Florida school massacre, which claimed 17 innocent lives, was the 17th school and 40th mass shooting of 2018.
The alarming number of shootings has jump-started (yet another) debate among officials, survivors and the grieving nation on what leads the perpetrators carry out such horrific acts.
While the survivors of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting advocate for stricter gun laws, arguing how easy it was for 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz to legally purchase a military-style rifle, conservative lawmakers seem to have reportedly rejected the notion altogether.
Even President Donald Trump seemed to believe the shooting could have been prevented had someone reported the shooter, who according to him showed red flags, or if background checks were done.
The thing is, someone did report Cruz to the authorities — but nothing happened.
It all comes down to this: The tragedy could have been prevented if a teenager wasn’t allowed to buy a semi-automatic killing machine. Period.
Most American teenagers are refused cigarettes, adult magazines and alcohol because federal law has strict rules when it comes to these things.
Meanwhile, it is as easy for them to purchase a gun from a licensed dealer as a dozen eggs from a grocery store.
In 2014, a video showed a seller refusing a 13-year-old Virginia boy a lottery ticket because he was “underage.” Even though it is illegal for kids under 18 to possess weapons, the same video showed the boy purchase a .22 bolt-action rifle for a handful of cash and was told the rifle should “shoot pretty good for you.”
here's a video of a 13yr old getting denied lottery tickets, cigarettes, & alcohol but able to buy a gun. legally. pic.twitter.com/cruPy7gGU1— LIL PHAG (@elijahdaniel) June 15, 2016
How absurd is the federal law that does not allow Americans younger than 21 to legally buy alcohol but allows them to buy a gun?
Here's a chart for the minimum ages children can own a rifle or shotgun in the US. pic.twitter.com/4BuBdk74my— LIL PHAG (@elijahdaniel) June 15, 2016
These guns could be everything from shotguns to rifles, including the AR-15 military-style rifle, which has recently gained notoriety for its use in mass shootings across the U.S.
Meanwhile, for the possession of firearms used for hunting, the age limit is lower. Children under 18 can easily possess these “assault weapons” with their parents’ consent.
Apparently, only seven states, including the District of Columbia, have banned these assault weapons. In 28 states, there is no age restriction for buying rifles.
“It is absolutely striking that a young adult who is not legally able to buy alcohol can just walk into a gun store and, provided they pass a background check, they can buy a very high-powered and, in some cases, military-style weapon,” Lindsay Nichols, the federal policy director for the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said in an interview with the Guardian.
“Tightening up the age restrictions for gun purchases would be an easy fix that could have a relatively significant impact on some kinds of gun violence,” she added.
Mental illness exists in every nation. Yet, mass shootings are uniquely an American problem. Majority of gunmen are not found to be mentally ill, and only 3% of the mentally ill population have violent tendencies. You do the math. #MarchForOurLives #GunLawsNOW— Becca Sutherland (@BeccaSutherlan3) February 18, 2018
Cruz was reportedly able to get a licensed AR-15 when he turned 18 one year ago, despite having mental health issues.
However, pro-gun advocates don’t believe guns or age restriction are the problem.
“I don’t think [the Parkland shooter] would have been less lethal at 22,” said Massad Ayoob, a firearms expert and instructor. “18 is old enough to enlist in the armed forced and fight and die for your nation. It’s old enough to marry without your parents’ permission. And in my younger days, in many states, 18 was old enough to buy a beer.”
It is important to note banning alcohol consumption before the age of 21 has other benefits — declines in drunk driving and car crashes, for instance.
Y’all act like trump has a button he can press that will end all mass shoootings. Changing gun laws will not change a shooters motive, or mental health. Gun laws would do absolutely nothing to prevent this. IT IS THE SHOOTERS NOT THE GUNS.— Kyler_5 (@Kp_Kyler) February 16, 2018
But if the law solemnly believes in “prevention is better than cure” when it comes to drunk driving, how many more shootings will it take before they apply the same formula for gun violence?
18 shootings killing innocent children in 6 weeks America. How many more people have to die? Have you still not had enough? #GunLawsNOW— Lina (@linavasili) February 15, 2018
I don’t understand why a civilian need a semi automatic weapon #GunLawsNOW— Emoody (@EmoodyS) February 18, 2018
Say, if the shooter was African American, Muslim or an immigrant, would the Trump administration treat the massacre as lightly as they are doing now?
Thumbnail/Banner Credit: Reuters, Jonathan Drake