February 14, 2018, Valentines Day, In the town of Parkland Florida, Shortly after 2 pm a Fire Alarm was pulled and as confused Students started pouring into the halls, 19 year old Nikolas Cruz, armed with an AR-15 Semi Automatic Rifle, took the lives of 17 former classmates, injuring up to 14 more.
I was on my way to my 4th job site in Chicago as I got the notification on my phone about the school shooting. That term, “School Shooting” has become such a common term now that it really is horrifying to sit back and think about it. The news didn’t quiet sink in until I started reading reports about the casualties; 14 dead, 15 dead, 16 dead, 17 dead! This is horrible I thought, but before I could even finish reading the report, I was already getting feeds on the Politicians jumping to action.
Never let a good Crisis go to waste.
I am unfortunately old enough to remember lots of School Mass Shootings and after all of them, I see the all too familiar tears of the politicians and cries for Stricter Gun Laws. It has really become a tradition after all these school shootings. The politicians waste no time to capitalize on the drama by politicizing the heartache of the surviving victims and the families of the deceased. I understand the strategy, but when has making any serious decisions while being emotional ever worked out? This is not to devalue the pain that the victims and their families are feeling. I sympathize greatly for their pain.
As the day went on I, as so many around the country, stayed glued to the developing story. Before I went to bed, I had already known all there was to know about young Nikolas. How he was adopted, how his father passed away while he was still young, how his mother had passed a year ago. I knew that he was bullied at school, that he had been a troubled student and expelled, and so on. It was remarkable how much I had already known in the little time since the incident.This caused me to think of an essay I wrote 2 years ago about the MSM hand in causing allure and grandeur to these criminals. “Erase the Hate”
Come morning,I woke in a panic. I had a dream that I received a call from my crying wife telling me my oldest son, who is 12 years old, had died. Immediately I broke down. This the single worst fear for any parent. I was shaken awake by my wife and it took me a couple of minutes to settle myself , but was quickly struck again with the realization that many parents that morning, will be waking to find their nightmare is a reality.
As my day continued, I kept reading the reports and the continuous cries for stricter gun laws rang on. I was so taken back by some of the statistics that started to be reported about the rise in mass shootings within the last decade, so I decided to see the numbers for myself. From the turn of the century, there have been 212 school shootings in the United States. Mind you, most of them were not mass shootings, rather situational occurrences, but that’s still a huge number when I started comparing it to the decades before. In the ‘90s there were 62 incidents, in the ‘80s there were 39 and in the ‘70s, 30.
This information started bothering me, not just because of the thought of the number of shootings, but because of the dramatic jump from the 80s to the 90s, coupled with the realization that gun laws today are stricter than they ever have been in the United States. How can School Shootings be increasing, if the laws are getting stricter? This doesn’t make any sense. I started thinking hard about how politicians, along with other people quickly jump to blame guns for the problem. They must realize this odd fact, I thought. As I broke down my thoughts even more, one thing started becoming very clear to me. Taking away the gun will not stop the killings.
As a father, I have an opportunity to relate lots of issues in this country to raising my 2 sons. Luckily, I have never had to disarm any of these 2 knucklehead when they begin to fight, however, If I had to, I can not just take away the weapon and think the fight is over. This is absurd! The cause for the fight will still be present, and my child will only find a different means of continuing it. As a father I have to find the underlined problem. I have to understand what caused the fight and how I can prevent the fight from happening again. Yes, taking away the weapon is an easy deterrent, but rest assured, it is only a temporary one.
It is very easy to blame the accessibility of a weapon when there is an incident like the one we had in Florida. As I read the news, I myself started entertaining the thought of eliminating said weapon, but then reality hit and I knew that the weapon was not the problem. We are forcing ourselves to believe that a person that is hell bent on breaking the most important law we have (Don’t fucking kill people), will adhere to the regulations pertaining to accessing weapons, no matter how hard it may be. This Is ridiculous. A person that is ready to break a law will never care about breaking another to access a weapon. Never. The weapon was just the instrument, an instrument that has been available for centuries. The intent is what needs to be addressed, the mindset is what needs to be addressed.
I have a belief that society knows exactly what is going on in this country that has caused this rise in violence, but they would rather settle for the easy answer and blame regulation and a weapon, rather than face the sad and disturbing fact that this problem is in many ways, our fault.
Over the years I have read separate research about the rise in violence, depression, bullying and mental illnesses in the youth. All the research I have read have cited certain groups claiming to know the cause to these occurrences. Some groups blame violence in music, film and gaming.There has been groups that blame the lack of parenting, groups that have blamed the coddling of children and groups that insist that we have grown dependent on technology to keep our children still and quiet. Most of the time, society quickly jumps to the defense of these accusations and they are just as quickly dismissed. I, however, think that all of these examples, along with the rise of Social Media, is exactly the reason why this epidemic has occurred. It only makes perfect sense. Looking at the jump in numbers of incidents between the 80s and 90s, the decades that started at my birth and ended 2 years after I graduated along with the quick change in societal norms only justifies my theory. The rise of mainstream entertainment, and advances in technology were drastic between those years. As a child of the 80s, we grew up as these changes grew to become a more intricate part of Americana, however, most of us were old enough to remember a simpler time before these advances , but even so, the effects that accompanied these advances had just begun. Between 1990 and 2000, there was a jump of 23 School shooting incidents from the decade before. The 90’s was a decade of extravagant changes. The internet was born and available to the masses, The introduction to “Gangsta Rap” and “Alternative” begun a new era in music, Graphics and CGI in cinema began to create more vivid and realistic scenes and the same occured in gaming, allowing the user to experience a first person shooting scenario for the very first time. Those of us that had grown into these changes had a past of growing up without them that kept us from becoming consumed by these advances, however, those who came in the years after us, didn’t have this opportunity. They were raised by these fantasies and were introduced to them at an age where their brains were still encourageable and vulnerable .
In the ‘90s, The rise of the Internet became readily available to the entire planet. Never before has the sharing of information been so easy. The world was now connected and though this has been the reason for much of our advancements going into the 21st century, it has also created an atmosphere for chaos. Like Adam biting into the Fruit of Knowledge, The internet provided this knowledge and we so enthusiastically bit. Information on how to access weapons, create home-made explosives, research EMS responses, Be in contact with characters of a questionable nature, view videos of horrific content , that had been roughly inaccessible in previous years, was now, literally, at the edge of one's fingers.
The internet also brought with it what I can only describe as our inevitable self destruction;Social Media. First presenting itself as the ever so popular MySpace, this program offered its user the means to connect with every other user in the world. Myspace ended and Facebook began, along with many, many other social networking sites. These sites also filtered popular news and stories from around the world and made them accessible all on one site. You don't really have to imagine what sitting in front of your computer, you phone, your tablets for hours a day scrolling through these feeds, looking at the constant tragedies of the world, could do to a young mind. It can easily leave them feeling hopeless for their futures. Online bullying has also had a hand in these feelings of hopelessness. Imagine the chaos of High School life(the gossip, the drama, the bullying) Now imagine, not being able to go home from this. This alone has the potential to push someone who is suffering from depression over the edge.
I, myself, believe the biggest reason for the surge of Gun violence in America is us. The parents. The adults. We are the ones at fault. With all these groups that offer all these reasons, there is always a backlash against them, Music, Movies, Gaming, Social Media are always defended. I think the reason why we see this backlash is because these ideas puts the blame on the keepers of the youths. It is parents who allow their children to listen to violent music, watch violent television and movies and play violent video games. It is the parenting, or sometimes lack thereof, who are more interested in their own entertainment than raising their children to be courteous, kind and respectful. It is the parents who raise their children to demand that their needs, interests and feelings be acknowledged by everyone around them, making the simple concept of “No” unbearable and it is the parents who would rather turn their children into mindless, careless, zombies by sitting them in front of a television, computer, phone or tablet at an age where the brain is still in development.
I believe that all of these, not just some of them, are the reasons we saw such a jump in School Shootings from the 80s to the ‘90s and into the new millenium. The shootings are really only a matter of convenience but not necessarily the reason for the violence. Does this mean that the guns have no responsibility in the matter? Absolutely not.
As I said to start this essay, Many believe that revoking the 2nd Amendment is what needs to happen. I don’t think people really understand the need for guns in our country, but that's a whole other topic. The inevitable truth is that it is written in our Constitution that every citizen of this country has the right to arms. Even though I am sure that many in this country are convinced that this Amendment is outdated and useless in today's America(Bundy Ranch Standoff), the fact remains that it’s still there and only the agreement of ⅔ of the government will change this, and that’s not very likely. Having said this I do believe in regulation in regards to weapons that have a potential to take a human life. I know this is an unpopular belief to many defenders of the 2nd,however, I think this can be easily defended. The constitution also gives us the freedoms to live our lives in the pursuit of happiness, but there are laws that criminalize certain people’s ideas of happiness.
It is true that gun laws and regulations for gun ownership already exist. These are good laws and regulations, but like many other laws and regulations that exist, one who is determined to do what they feel, will find a way to do it. In the case of Nikolas Cruz, The gun laws and regulations that we already have should have been enough to prevent Cruz from walking into a Pawn Shop and purchase a weapon.
In a statement, the FBI said "a person close to" Cruz called the agency's public tip line on Jan. 5 and left information on Cruz's "gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting."
The tip should have been "assessed as a potential threat to life" and forwarded to the bureau's Miami field office for investigation. "We have determined that these protocols were not followed," the agency said.
Had the Justice Department done their jobs, Nikolas’s name would have been flagged as a potential threat and would never have passed a background check to legally purchase a weapon. Nikolas would have had to find another means. Could he have just found a weapon on the black market? Of course, but one has to understand that purchasing anything on the black market or “Dark Web” is not as easy as one may think. There is a possibility that this incident could have been avoided.
Laws and Regulations are there for a reason, but if the law enforcement don’t follow procedure to make sure these laws and regulations are being followed, then what is the point of having more laws?
I do believe that there’s at least room to talk about regulation and other possible deterrents but I am not as knowledgeable on guns as I am other things to make those suggestions, so I won’t, but I would say that since guns are not only legal in America but also very accessible, there needs to be other means to try prevent these tragedies from happening, Including the possibility of armed guards. Many would debate that school budgets could not pay for these, but that’s bullshit. I grew up in a lower middle class city in NW Indiana and we had 2 armed Police Officers at our High School every single day. Another possibility would be to train volunteer administration on keeping, and operating firearms (in gun safes, of course) I understand that these seem like extremes but this is definitely a more logical positions than “Ban the guns”, a debate that has been going on for decades and will continue to be a debate. Are you willing to risk the lives of the children until we can all reach a definitive answer on guns? Do we need new Laws and Restrictions? Maybe, but the new laws that have recently been suggested would not have prevented the Florida Shootings and unless the United States develop and Mandate Mental Health Evaluation for every citizen in the country, I doubt you will ever get forewarning that a person who has not been evaluated but is suffering from a mental disorder may be purchasing a weapon.
I think that the main deterrent starts at home. We need parents who are willing to be the bad guy and set rules for their children. We need parents to stop using digital devices as babysitters. We need parents to set limits on their children’s electronic uses. To monitor what their kids listen to, what they watch and what games they play. We need parents that force their kids to volunteer and work with their community. To get involved with sports and after school activities. Parents who give their children creative outlets for their anger. Parents who teach their children to respect others, to be polite, to be courteous, to discipline their children when their rules are broken, to respect life but most of all, understand the finality of death. We need parents to be parents. To stop their constant pursuit of self gratification and understand that they are raising what could be the future, but whether their “future” will be one of positivity or negativity is their decisions and theirs alone. We may never have an absolute answer for guns in America,but rest assured, If parents would stop blaming the guns and start understanding that the cause for hate starts at home, then we may at least begin to limit these school shootings, until we do find an answer to guns. One thing is for sure though, arguing for 2 extremes will never get you to an answer that can be agreed upon. Let's talk.
Don't be afraid. That ringing you hear in your ears is just a bit of
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