Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida, and other schools across the U.S. bowed their heads in a moment of silence Thursday to mark the anniversary of last year’s shooting rampage that claimed 17 lives.
News reports stated fewer than 300 of the 3,200 students at the high school showed up for what was a half-day, with classes cut short so that the teenagers would not be there around 2:20 p.m., the moment last year when gunfire erupted.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas senior Spencer Bloom skipped school to spend the day with students from the history class he was in during the shooting. He told reporters he struggles with panic attacks and feared he might have one if he went in to school.
The killing of the students fueled the nation’s debate over guns, whether to limit the weapons more, or to expand the ability to carry and own more.
In 2018, 40 states passed some type of legislation related to guns, either imposing restrictions or expanding gun rights.
The massacre led some Parkland students to form the group March for Our Lives, which holds rallies around the country for tougher gun regulations and registers young people to vote.
Weeks after the massacre, Florida raised the age to buy a rifle from 18 to 21 and passed a law allowing judges to take away the weapons of those considered a danger to themselves or others. Several other states have followed suit, while others moved in the opposite direction.
For the survivors of mass murder, the lack of reason that overpowers the gun debate is frustrating. Bickering over the Second Amendment and extreme efforts to arm more people with all types of weapons is opening the door to more violence, greater difficulty in monitoring gun ownership, and generally chaos.
After so many tragic killings of American citizens by troubled or evil individuals, the fact that trying to find reasonable solutions to protect innocent people is overshadowed by sometimes shallow political debates is infuriating.
Ideas from arming teachers and principals to hiring former military personnel to stand at schoolhouse doors have been bounced about for years. Those are not desirable solutions.
Some states and communities have moved in the direction to increasing the presence and training of police resource officers to be in each school. That is a better use of money and personnel.
Too many people walking around with guns at public events or inside schools is unnerving. Highly-trained police officers make sense and are accustomed to seeing and knowing students.
Increasing funds for school systems to afford such security would at least provide the type of security that comes with knowledge and skill in both reacting and possibly preventing another tragedy.