Strong Demands for Gun Control: #Never Again

윤진현, Edward Ngl승인2018.04.26l수정2018.06.01 14:10l361호 1면






 The shooting in a Florida high school on 14th February, Valentine’s Day, shocked the world. Media even regarded it as ‘the Tragedy on Valentine’s’. Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, admitted to the charges of 17 premeditated and attempted murder and was indicted. The shooting rampage committed by the young man took the life of 14 students and 3 faculty members. Although the school reopened on 23rd February, more than a week after the tragic shooting, the event was still haunting the minds of many survivors, friends and families of the dead. Protests were held and the outcry for stricter gun control and even an outright bans spread throughout the country. 

▲ The dangerous AR-15 used in the shooting (photo by Live Science).

 In response, President Trump proposed arming school teachers to protect the students. However, the inability of the armed personnel that was on site when the shooting took place, to take action against the gunman, makes people question this solution. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel stated that the armed security officer in the school, Scot Peterson, did nothing but hide behind his car, instead of taking action against the gunman. He was later suspended and is currently under investigation, though he proposed his own resignation at the same time.

 Authorities also failed to investigate fully, warnings it had received about a potential shooting. The FBI revealed that anonymous callers had been providing tips with concerns about Cruz’s behavior in 2017, months before the shooting took place and commented that the young man is ‘a shooter in making’ as he has been amassing guns and knives. However, the Miami FBI admitted that they failed to act on it. The failure of this authority to prevent the shooting only pushes society towards desperately crying out for bans or reductions on the number of guns on the street. However, nobody seems intent on cutting down the number of guns owned by citizens, especially those blacklisted or those who have ‘questionable backgrounds’ and are proven incapable of handling them safely. The AR-15, which was used in the shooting, is a highly dangerous weapon and many people are calling for its outright ban.

 Following another shooting in 1993, this time at Pettit and Martin, a corporate law firm located in San Francisco, where eight people were killed, gun control legislation banning assault weapons like the Colt AR-15 and Intratec TEC-9s was tabled. Yet, it expired within a decade in 2004. Since then, the gun laws in America remain passive, which is unusual in a country ridden with hundreds of shooting cases a year. In 2016, President Obama proposed Congress reenact the assault weapon ban after the Orlando nightclub shooting where 49 were killed and 58 were injured. Unfortunately, it did not pass into law.

 Politicians are under greater pressure than ever before to pass effective gun control that would prevent the loss of further innocent lives. Florida senator Marco Rubio supported the idea of raising the legal age of purchasing guns from 18 to 21. He also unveiled a bill that creates gun violence restraining orders, which will allow law enforcements or family members to file gun restraining orders to remove firearms from potentially dangerous people. But passing of the bill, however, depends on the support of the Senate.

 Although there has been a series of discussions on gun control in the US, none have resulted in any eal laws or regulations. Therefore, the Dankook Herald (the DKH) conducted an interview with Professor Lee Dong-min of the Dept. of Political Science and International Relations at Dankook University to learn more about why this issue cannot be resolved. He said structural changes were required to control guns in the United States. The history of guns in the United States resolved around personal protection, which naturally led to a thriving arms industry. This means that there would be resistance from National Rifle Association of an America (NRA) and even some Republicans. So far, profit groups associated with the industry have picked up where lawmakers have failed and instead made it difficult to get a gun from nearby retail outlets. Despite NRA and gun advocate objections it is fair to argue that at least the way teenagers buy guns, should be regulated. It is not expected to make gun related accidents disappear, but the current freedom of anyone being able to buy one, makes some Americans nervous. In the United States, lax gun control has led to a heightened level of public anxiety, and it seems that a law with stricter regulations is the only remedy. 

▲ The suspect admitted to shooting charges at the court (photo by Reuters).

 After the Florida High School shooting incident in the United States, a "Never Again" campaign and a "Me Next" campaign were launched. Alex Willer, a student at Marjorie Stonman Douglas High School in Parkland, where the incident took place, launched the "Never Again" campaign with four friends. Alex said "I can’t buy alcohol at the age of 19, so it certainly does not make sense that I can buy AR-15, a war weapon.”. Also, high school student, Bigelow Marbraker living in Felham, New York, came up with the " Me next" campaign to remind everyone that anyone could be the next victim of gun violence. Pictures and comments accompanied by the hashtag “Me next" are being posted on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.  

 Students say they don't want to live in a future with unrestricted gun access, and they are asking the government to make sure laws are enacted and enforced. The problem can’t be ignored any longer because many people believe this campaign to be one of America's largest movements. This is a matter of great importance to people who have already been hurt by the shootings. Now that there is a heated debate brewing over proposed legislation, the world needs to watch on attentively. No more innocent lives should be taken lightly.

윤진현, Edward Ng
<저작권자 © The Dankook Herald, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>


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