One year after Parkland: Safety in schools still needs to be a priority

Joel Bautista | The Ticker

Joel Bautista | The Ticker

It has been one year since 17 people, including 14 children, were killed when a young gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In many ways, this shooting wasn’t surprising. In 2018, as of early December, Vox reported 94 incidents of gun violence on school campuses, according to the Naval Postgraduate School, as well as 328 mass shootings, according to The Gun Violence Archive. 

However, Parkland became known as the symbol of young political activists all over the nation, and why law enforcement officials and politicians are not doing nearly enough to prevent such incidents from happening.

Gun reform laws have been an important issue for America’s citizens, especially given the fact that some of the deadliest mass shootings happened within the past three years. 

The Parkland tragedy, however, really highlighted the pitfalls and shortcomings of U.S. gun laws. Nikolas Cruz, who was taken into custody an hour later for the shooting, showed several red flags before he showed up at Marjory Stoneman that day, including calls from his own mother to the police, numerous uninvestigated tips to the FBI, according to The New York Times and a potential threat from a “Nikolas Cruz” channel on YouTube, the user commenting that they will be a “professional school shooter,” as reported by BuzzFeed. 

Cruz should not have had access to the rifle that he used in the shooting, or any gun for that matter. State politicians have finally started to pay attention, passing various gun control bills aiming to prevent minors or people considered to be “red flags” from easily accessing guns in some states, or having more in-depth background checks and waiting periods in others, according to The Times. 

However, federal politicians are still disagreeing on what laws should be passed concerning guns. The government is becoming more divided, so it is not likely that Congress and President Donald Trump will be signing any major reforms concerning guns anytime soon.

Courtesy of  Flickr

Courtesy of Flickr

On a slightly lighter note, this year has shown how powerful the youth of today can be in the face of tragedy and when they come together to fight for what they believe in. 

Survivors of the Parkland shooting came together to organize the first March for Our Lives, a demonstration held by a group of student survivors on March 24 to demand stricter gun control and accountability from the leaders of the United States, according to CNN. 

Survivors such as David Hogg, Emma González and Cameron Kasky banded together in a group called #NeverAgain, which helped organize the demonstration in Washington, D.C. that spurred countless other similar rallies all over the country. 

The following summer, the activists traveled all over the country by bus, speaking out against the issue and also registering students to vote in the 2018 midterm elections. 

The work of the survivors really struck a chord with young people all over America. Around 31 percent of voters ages 18 to 29 came out to vote in the midterms, the highest level of young voters in at least seven midterms, data from the The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement shows. The young vote helped decide many close elections all over the nation and helped Democrats secure wins in multiple races. Young activists and advocates are the future, and they won’t stop until change happens in America.

The power of the youth should not be underestimated, but the U.S. still has a long way to go before students and teachers can truly feel safe in their schools. 

Since the Parkland shooting happened, 1,200 children have been killed at the hand of a gun, The Times reports. This number will just keep rising until stringent measures are taken.