After the Feb. 14 shootings in Parkland, Florida, there was rightful disgust, horror and sadness. Yet there was little shock involved.
A man walking into a high school and shooting 17 innocent teenagers and adults is not shocking to us. It’s a common occurrence. We know that it’s wrong. We know we need to do something to stop it, yet we do not. Instead of acknowledging the desperate need for change, we hide behind the moniker of “thoughts and prayers.” We beat around the bush by blaming shootings on mental health, ineffective school safety and lack of proper gun training.
The day after the shooting, it was extremely disappointing to awake to an email from President Frenk that did little to acknowledge the horrific epidemic of gun violence that this country allows to exist. He offered meaningless thoughts and prayers. What he did not mention was the need for gun law reform. He did not talk about how these occurrences have become routine. He did not even mention the need for a campus-wide dialogue about this culture of gun violence that exists in our country, more so than anywhere else in the world. It was disheartening to see Frenk, a man with considerable reach and influence, not take a stand – not just for what is right but for what is common sense.
To be fair, Frenk is not alone in this failure, nor is he close to being responsible for this horrific shooting. To start, the Florida Legislature has blood on its hands. Its lax gun laws allowed a mentally unstable man to buy a gun. Then there’s Senator Marco Rubio, who has received millions from the National Rifle Association. In a statement, all he could offer was sadness before quickly diving into an often-heard rebuttal to gun reform – that gun regulations are ineffective.
He wants us to do nothing to solve the root of this epidemic: guns. Clearly, Rubio cares more about pleasing the NRA than protecting the lives of his constituents.
Gov. Rick Scott, to his credit, did say “if we have somebody that’s mentally ill, they can’t have access to a gun.” He is right. However, this is common sense. People with clear mental illness should not possess the means to kill people. Such regulations would be a step in the right direction.
However, until we are ready as a nation to have a candid discussion about gun violence, progress will be slow.
President Trump, it seems, is not willing to have that discussion. It was very frustrating to hear him, in response to the tragedy, talk about mental health and school safety – without once mentioning the need to address gun culture.
With a president who refuses to mention the means by which American citizens are being killed, these shootings are only going to continue. We need to address gun culture, and it must start from the top. Yet gun culture apparently does not exist to the politicians who just so happen to accept millions from the NRA each year.
Ryan Steinberg is a sophomore majoring in political science.