Parkland: One year following the mass shooting

By Caitlin Tapia

On February 14, 2018, Nikolas Cruz opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida. The shooting became the most media-covered school shooting ever, as well as the worst school shooting in 2018. Nikolas Cruz had killed 17 and wounded an additional 17 students and teachers.


Throughout the year, 18 more school shootings occurred across the country. Education Week has published records of school shootings within the past couple of years. They found that 35 people died and 79 people were injured. Making 2018 the worst year for school shootings since 1970.


In the year that followed Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder in the first degree along with 17 counts of attempted murder. His trial date has not been set yet, but attorneys say he will be pleading guilty as for a life sentence in prison; however, prosecutors are pushing for the death sentence.


In the aftermath, the students came together forming the March For Our Lives movement, holding rallies to protest for stricter gun control. In 2018 the students went on tour to 68 different cities, featuring celebrities behind the movement and media coverage. These types of protest have not been seen after previous mass shootings.


Politicians have recognized the overwhelming support towards change and 133 bills were introduced in 2018, seven were vetoed.


The most gun laws were passed in New York. In Colorado, a bill was enacted that “Strengthens the crime of burglary of firearms to a class 3 felony and increase the minimum fine to $5,000.” Other states introduced more severe bills, such as Florida, which enacted the School Public Safety Bill, which gives law enforcement the right to seize a firearm from an individual who is deemed unsafe to themselves or others around there. The bill also creates new Offices of Safe Schools.


The debate has arisen around mass shootings: is it a mental health issue? Or a gun issue? Psychology Today article written by Glenn Geher Ph.D. found that there are multiple factors occurring at the time of a shooting.


Mental health quality in the United States has been declining with psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety increasing frequently since the 1980’s. While it seems likely that Cruz was mentally unstable at the time, he also purchased extremely dangerous firearms that were used. There were at least two concrete foundations to why the shooting occured; but, to solve the issue we must address both of the issues rather than blaming it on one or another.


In Delaware a bill was enacted that, “Sets out procedures for seizing firearms and ammunition from individuals who are mentally ill and potentially dangerous to self or others.” Another example of improving mental health and gun control laws took place in Maine. In which they passed a bill allowing “courts to temporarily remove weapons from high-risk individuals who are in treatment programs and pose a threat to others or themselves.” Others similar to these bills were passed in states such as: Nebraska, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Virginia.


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