To honor lives lost in Parkland shooting, the government must act

Valentine’s Day for the people of Parkland, Fla. will forever be haunted by memories of spilled blood and vulnerability, instead of candied hearts and love. Seventeen lives were mercilessly and tragically ended on Feb. 14, 2018.

Looking at the pictures of the bright, smiling victims, the knowledge that our government and our people have failed them is a tremendous burden that will haunt us for years to come, as it should. However, we owe it to the victims and their families to ensure that their loss and suffering is not pointless.

The parents of these latest shooting victims now must arrange their child’s funeral. Lori Alhadeff, whose daughter died in the tragedy, is still in shock. According to U.K. magazine, Independent, “The gunman, a crazy person, just walks right into the school, knocks down the window of my child’s door and starts shooting… killing her. I just spent the last two hours putting [together] the burial arrangements for my daughter’s funeral, who’s 14…. President Trump, please do something…. Action! We need it now! These kids need safety now!”

We failed Stoneman Douglas High School. There were so many red flags that should have prevented Cruz from being allowed to purchase any weapon, let alone military-style weapons like an AR-15.

It is ridiculous that more protections are not in place to prevent this tragedy from happening again. How can it be legal to purchase a weapon like the AR-15 at 18, before one is even legally able to obtain a handgun?

Why are we not mandating that thorough background checks are routinely conducted in all 50 states?

Why is there a waiting period for abortion in 27 states, but only 10 require the same before purchasing a gun?  Why are semi-automatic and automatic weapons allowed for purchase, when even military personnel do not have access to their weapons after discharge?  Stricter gun-control regulations are long overdue.

Continuing to blame mental health issues for these tragedies stigmatizes mental health and makes it harder for people with mental illnesses to seek treatment. Saying that it is always the victims’ responsibility to report any suspicious behavior to the authorities seems to encourage witch-hunts reminiscent of the McCarthy era. Expecting people to be able to predict a person’s potential for such destruction is impossible. Of course, suspicious activity should be reported, and if this shooting was any indication, it already is.

The actions of good samaritans leading up this horrific tragedy proves that this massacre was neither sudden nor unavoidable. People did seek help from the proper authorities. Yet, nothing was done to prevent it, because the institutions designed to protect us are already too overburdened to properly deal with the tips coming in.

The solution is simple: we need gun control laws to be enforced. The priority of the state should be the protection of its civilians, not the upholding of an archaic Second Amendment that was designed with different intentions in mind.

The American people are pleading for gun control. A rally for gun control held in Fort Lauderdale on Feb. 17 saw many students from Stoneman Douglas High School—still raw from shock—give their voices to the cause. Why does Congress refuse to listen?

This is no longer a question of protecting our constitutional rights; this is an example of the effectiveness of NRA lobbyists and of greed impeding our democracy.

In Australia, strict gun control measures were implemented in 1996 after a similar tragedy, and since then there has not been a single fatal mass-shooting. Though the measures were unpopular at the time, and several politicians lost their careers by voting for the gun-control regulations, the legislators’ acts of political courage ensured a safer nation and have saved countless lives.

It is time for our government to follow their example. We no longer have time to wait until the next tragedy to decide to take action. We need to take it now, before another life is unnecessarily taken by a madman with a gun.

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