Mary Rudzis – Features and Opinions Editor
No one needs an assault rifle. No one.
Nikolas Cruz, who killed 17 people last Wednesday in Parkland, Florida did not need one; Adam Lanza, who killed 26 people in Newtown in 2012 did not need one; Chris Harper-Mercer, who killed 10 people in Roseburg, Oregon in 2015 did not need one.
Too many lives have been lost as a result of access to assault rifles. Unfortunately, if the murder of schoolchildren was not enough to light a fire under the government to reform gun laws, not much else will be.
Cruz, who is 19 years old, who is unable to legally purchase alcohol, purchased the firearm he used to kill 17 people with legally. An 18 year old can purchase an assault rifle; the age to legally purchase a handgun is 21.
Before he killed 17 people at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Cruz made posts on social media and in a private Instagram group chat about how he hated “jews, n——, immigrants.”
Cruz was expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and the FBI received a tip on Jan. 5, 2018 that a “Nikolas Cruz” was dangerous.
The tip was reported to the FBI’s Public Access Line and “provided information about 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,” according to the FBI statement.
The FBI admitted that they failed to follow protocol following this tip, which was the second regarding Nikolas Cruz in just over three months.
Law enforcement said that Cruz purchased at least five guns in the past year as well as body armor. He was a hateful person with the ability to legally carry out a massacre against innocent people.
And this is not an isolated case. These mass shootings are not few and far between.
Why, as a student, should I fear for my safety at school? Why should parents be worried that their children are going to be shot while at school? Why are teachers expected to act as human shields in the event of such a tragedy, and are they even trained properly to act accordingly?
It is terrible to have to think about what I would do if someone with a gun entered a building on campus, but that is reality.
In my four years at Southern I have rarely seen police officers on the academic side of campus, let alone in Engleman or Morrill. Even though I have never felt as though I was in danger, it is nearly impossible to not think about when yet another school shooting happens.
The fact that students and teachers are not safe in school is troubling; this is where we send our children, where those who set out to educate them go to do their jobs.
Enough is enough.
There is no tangible way to solve this problem other than stricter gun laws. While it is easy to look at Connecticut’s leaders and know that they are pushing for change, it is not enough to sit idly by just because the state we reside in is more progressive. This is a national issue.
More than 400 people have been shot in over 200 school shootings, the New York Times reported. Of those 438 victims, 138 were killed. Not only are stricter gun laws and legislation needed on the government’s end, but on adult gun owners’ ends as well.
The Pew Research Center put out a survey that concluded that 54 percent of gun owners with children under 18 living at home say that they keep all of their guns locked away.
That is 46 percent of those households do not keep deadly firearms secure and away from their underage kids. That is deeply concerning.
Right now is the time to discuss gun control, firearm safety and what the United States can do to prevent another school shooting. If something does not change soon, these acts of violence will continue.
It is already too late; there are already too many lives lost and tears shed. That is why the need for change and reform is becoming increasingly more urgent. We cannot continue to do nothing and watch children be murdered.
Thirty-two percent of households in the U.S. have guns; if that many Americans are going to legally own guns, there should be nationwide laws that make it more difficult to purchase and use a firearm, and soon. The statewide laws that are strict and preventative must be spread further; background checks need to be more in depth; there are legislators to be called and emails to be sent; there are steps that both individuals and groups can take. However, this all needs to happen now. Otherwise, we are sitting ducks.