Parkland Shooting Sparks a National Movement


Emma Cohen, Staff Writer

On February 14, 2018, in Parkland, Florida, Nikolas Cruz, 19 years old, opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. With 17 deaths and 14 injuries, this has become one of the deadliest mass shootings in modern history.

According to CNN, Cruz had been adopted at age two, and then orphaned again when, over time, both of his adoptive parents died. Since then, he had been staying with friends and relatives. As seen in his social media sites, his comments to peers at school, and his large collection of weaponry, Cruz has a large fascination, if not love, of weapons. He had been posting pictures with his weapons on social media sites that were reported to be extremely disturbing. It is no secret that Cruz has a history of mental disorders, including depression, autism, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. He was also reported to hold anti-semitic and extremist views.

Then, on the 14th, Cruz carried an AR-15 Semi-Automatic and loaded magazines, and killed 14 students and three teachers at Douglas High, injuring many more. Cruz had posted a comment on YouTube one year ago that, according to a New York Times article, the F.B.I said was untraceable. The comment had been made on September 24th, in which Cruz had said that he was going to be a professional school shooter. Currently, Cruz faces 17 counts of premeditated murder.

Survivors and some of the parents of victims went to a White House meeting with Donald Trump. “The solution is not going to be a singular thing. It’s going to be multi-faceted, and it’s gonna be created by a collection of different people working together,” said Ariana Klein in her talk with Trump and a survivor. “And we all have to realize that we all have our opinions, and together we are going to be able to work towards a solution. And it’s is not just Parkland anymore, this is America. This is every student and every city, and everywhere and everybody.”

Currently, many planned protests are being organized, the first one occurring on March 14th. At 10:00 A.M., all students who wish to participate will walk out of their classroom for 17 minutes to honor the 17 people who lost their lives in the Parkland shooting. And this is only the beginning. “I think that as long as people who are participating in protests—regardless of what the protest is—I think if they are protesting for the right reasons, because they believe in whatever they are protesting in, I think it’s a very powerful tool,” said Agape Schmarge, a history teacher here at the school. She went on to warn that every protest has a counter-protest, and that people need to be prepared for the pro-gun protests that are going to come in response to the reform movements.

Many students, both survivors and students from across the country, are currently protesting in Washington. “People have to bury their kids for going to school,” said Schmarge. And this is something that many people believe needs to be changed. A lot of America’s youth are protesting for stricter gun regulations. Across social media are anti-gun cartoons and social commentaries on our current government. There is also a picture that has gone viral showing a quote saying “thoughts and prayers” blocked out, and then under it, the words “policy and change.” “At the end of the day, how many people, how many kids, have to die before changes can be made?” said Schmarge. 

People across the country are now asking whether or not their schools are safe, and whether there can be an active shooter in their own school. The sad reality is that this can happen anywhere. “I do think that we have a pretty good system in place,” said Schmarge about Tenafly’s security. But she went on to say that she does think that improvements could definitely be made.

One current argument that has come back up due to this shooting is that gun violence is tied to mental health. There is a correlation between school shooters and mental health. In fact, Cruz was reportedly on anti-depressants. However, there is a stigma created by our society around people who are labeled as “mentally ill,” and being mentally ill does not mean that you are crazy. In the end, correlation is not the same as causation. “I think that it’s grossly unfair to label people with mental illness as being potential murderers, because it’s simply not the case,” said Schmarge.

Since the shooting, The Center for Disease Control (CDC) began investigating the issue of gun violence as a topic of “Public Health.” However, the gun lobby, being the NRA, has blocked the

Political cartoon that has been spreading on social media sites.

CDC from doing this. It’s no secret that the NRA funds many politicians’ campaigns. “It’s one hand washes the other,” said Schmarge. “The NRA supports so many politicians and gives them so much money that they become more pro-gun.” It brings up the question, as long as the gun lobby is as large as it is and the NRA maintains as much power as it does, will gun policies ever change?

This tragedy has sparked a movement among America’s youth and has created a heated conversation over gun policy. But, in the end, talking is not enough. “The system is broken. The system needs to be fixed,” said Schmarge. “My hope is that maybe [the younger generation] can fix this. Because I think my generation has failed you, and I think that this problem can only be solved with your help.”