February 20, 2018
This could happen to anyone.
Instead of celebrating Valentine’s Day with loved ones, 14 students and three staff members died at the hands of a 19-year-old gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
On Feb. 14, the day of the shooting, students sent texts to parents and family expressing their love, updating them on whether or not they were safe.
Our hearts are heavy as we put these words down on paper.
As we write this, on Feb. 16, the Douglas High School shooting is the 8th school shooting in 2018.
Half of them only freshmen, 14 children are dead because one person decided to use an AR-15 and take their lives, senselessly.
It’s time we act.
We’re sick of reading the news and finding that bright, smart children and young adults with their whole lives ahead of them are dead.
We were sick of it when we learned about Columbine. Sandy Hook. Virginia Tech.
The shooter has been identified as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz. Cruz was recently expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for disciplinary reasons, according to NBC News.
Since his expulsion, Cruz posted threats on both Facebook and YouTube, warning the public that he would bring his gun to school and shoot students.
Students who knew Cruz were not surprised by his posts and even reported to NBC that “Cruz ‘threatened to bring the guns to school multiple times,’” senior Eddie Bonilla said. Other students, he said, “threw jokes around that he’d be the one to shoot up the school.”
Despite Cruz’s apparent mental instability and violent nature, Cruz still passed a background check and law enforcement sources told NBC that “he bought the .223 caliber rifle legally at a federally licensed gun store in Broward County”.
There is blame to share on all sides.
Cruz had been expelled from three separate schools on the basis of violent and disciplinary issues. Stoneman Douglas wouldn’t let him bring a backpack to class, and his posts on YouTube were reported to the FBI with no follow-up investigation or communication with local police.
Recently, Cruz’s defense team released a truly disturbing statement, describing their client as “a deeply troubled child who has endured significant loss. He fell between the cracks.”
This 19-year-old man, who is in no way a “child,” was fully aware and in control of his actions leading up to the shooting. His act was premeditated, it was planned, and he showed countless signs of his intentions.
We’re not here to write down our stance on gun control. We’re not here to preach to you about the second amendment and whether or not it should be abolished.
We’re here to say that we need to do something about this, because who’s to say that it can’t happen to UCCS too?
We don’t want to have to even think about that possibility that our sisters, our brothers, our friends or our families may not come home because of senseless gun violence.
We do not advocate that guns be so tightly regulated that they are taken out of the hands of lawful, responsible citizens who have a Constitutional right to bear arms.
People who abide by gun safety and are respectful and knowledgeable of guns should not have their freedoms taken away.
Guns are tools, just like cars and knives are tools. It is the wielder of that tool that needs to be regulated.
These recent mass-shootings have been carried out by mentally unstable individuals and those with criminal or questionable backgrounds. The fact that unstable individuals like Cruz are able to purchase an AR-15 rifle at the local gun store with seemingly no red flags raised, is truly concerning.
We believe that more extensive, intensive and thorough background checks need to be implemented so that guns of any kind cannot be allowed to be in the hands of mentally unstable individuals and those with criminal or questionable backgrounds.
We cannot allow mass shootings like these to continue.
Parents should never have to live in fear of sending their child to school to receive an education. Students should never live in fear of getting an education.
We believe it is imperative that all students learn the warning signs. We believe that we should practice schoolwide drills for active shooters.
We advocate that we learn lessons from these tragedies.