It has happened again. On Valentine’s Day 2018 seventeen people died at the hands of a murderer wielding a legally purchased firearm in an American high school. This time the crime scene was Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a Miami suburb. The confessed murderer, Nikolas Cruz, took an Uber car to the campus and began his assault outside the high school with a semiautomatic AR-15 rifle. By the time he stopped shooting, 31 people had been mowed down; 17 of them died.
The 19-year-old Cruz is a former Stoneman Douglas student. After the rampage, Cruz was arrested as he walked down a street in an adjacent town after blending in with students fleeing the school he had just attacked. He has now been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
What in the world is to be done now?
On last Thursday’s Megyn Kelly show she suggested that President Trump divert the money he wants for his border wall to trying to solve the problem of gun violence. That is a good idea. According to the Brookings Institution, estimated cost for the border wall ranges between $12 and $70 billion. That should be enough money to put a dent in the problem.
But the things that will do most to stanch this murder epidemic do not cost money. They simply require backbone.
First, we must start calling these episodes what they are: mass murders. Although Nikolas Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder, the media insists on calling them shootings rather than what they really are.
Next, the state legislatures and the US Congress must strengthen the gun control and background check laws currently in existence and make it harder, not easier, to obtain weapons. Yes, getting a gun should be at least as onerous as buying a car or truck, and it should require the of purchase liability insurance on each firearm.
Finally, a conversation about gun violence in our country – at the local, state, and national level – must commence.
I anticipate that Trump will say that now is not the time to discuss gun control and gun violence. He and other national “leaders” have called for unity and prayer. He has already has laid the blame for Wednesday’s murders at the door of the mental health community. He managed to talk about the latest AR-15 rifle massacre without once mentioning guns. Instead, Mr. Trump plans to discuss mental health with governors and attorneys general by the end of the month.
Dare I say it? Unity and prayer alone have not staved off additional mass murders in the past. It is unlikely they will this time.
Contrary to those who are afraid of the gun lobby, I say now is the very best time to discuss and to act on gun violence and gun control. We, the people, must do our part by communicating our points of view to our representatives and senators; and the Congress must do its part by passing legislation that strengthens gun control laws and background check requirements.
So, whatever your point of view or your age, it’s time to put pen to paper, begin an email, or place a call to your congress persons. Why not even send a letter to Mr. Trump himself? Gun violence and gun control is everyone’s business because gun violence is epidemic in our country, and that, my friends, constitutes a national crisis.