February 14th, 2018
As I observe the events in the United States that have become all too regular – mass shootings – I wonder where that society has gone wrong. Every other month there is yet another mass shooting that is painted across newspapers and splashed across headlines. With the horror of Columbine there were some legal reforms and by that I mean there were actually very few but they were there. The types of reforms in the wake of the numerous mass shootings that have taken place since then have been difficult to identify if they have been there at all. I wrote in an article titled, “What Happened in Vegas Shouldn’t Stay in Vegas” that perhaps it was time the United States actually address the availability of guns, especially in their southern states. There are only so many reasonably phrased pieces that one can write about issues like these before you become frustrated with the topic and I can honestly say I think I’ve arrived at that point.
The laws and social data surrounding past mass shootings have all been very much the same in the way they play out. There are usually plenty of guns, the institutions that prevent those who would use them for nefarious purposes fail to prevent those people from getting them, and someone very unstable gets very powerful guns and walks around an easily accessible place gunning people down.
I’m curious as to whether or not in the coming days we’ll find out the most recent Florida shooting fits those three criteria. From what we now know we can figure some of that out. On the first assertion, there are lots of guns – Florida has a gun ownership rate of 24.5%. This rate is astoundingly low compared to a state like Texas, for example, where the rate is more than ten percent higher. As for where the Florida shooter got his guns, at the time of writing it remains unclear. The shooter was a former student of the high school and was old enough to purchase weapons in the state. However, based on the rate of gun ownership in the state, I would say that in this case they were likely either legally procured or stolen from relatives. Again we see the same type of weapon used in this shooting that has been used in many others, the Colt AR-15. Another incredibly easy to procure semi-automatic assault rifle that is poorly legislated in the United States. That doesn’t matter, this was Valentine’s day and 17 people were murdered.
In truth, I tire of writing on this topic. The idea that a person can purchase a weapon with no documentation required for purchase, that has the capability to rapidly pass bullets through the bodies of anyone, is horrific. I can only imagine the sheer terror of those who find themselves at the other end of that weapon. A weapon that can fire as fast as you can pull the trigger might be “fun” but is the right to fun really more important than the rights of the 17 people who bled to death on the floor of the place they once learned or taught? How is it that the people of the United States can witness so many young people being so brutally murdered and still cry out “It’s our right to own guns”? I understand the desire for rights, but I also understand the desire to be sure that young people are not blown to pieces in places that were once considered safe. How many more children have to die before there is real change? I don’t have the answer. I’m hoping that this won’t be just another school shooting but I also know that the United States will remain as it always has. Land of the fearful and home of the second amendment.