Latin Reacts to Parkland

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Robert Igbokwe On February 14, 2018, at approximately 2:19 a.m., 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz arrived at Marjory Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida in an Uber with a large case. In that case was an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle, one of 10 that he had purchased within the last year. He entered the building containing roughly 900 students and 30 teachers and activated a fire alarm. As students, faculty, and staff left their classrooms, he proceeded to shoot and kill 17 people, hospitalizing 14 others. Afterward, he dropped his weaponry to blend in with fleeing students, went to a Walmart to purchase a drink from their Subway restaurant, and lingered at a McDonald until 3:01 p.m. He was taken into police custody around 3:40 p.m. In the past decades, new legislation and increased prevention efforts by school districts have made school shootings such as the one that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas School rare. However, when they happen, the whole nation is affected. The Parkland Shooting is one of deadliest mass shootings in United States history and has ignited–or rather reignited–fierce emotions and debate across the nation. The vast array of reactions to the incident are reflected in the reactions of students and faculty at Latin. I decided to ask a few students how they felt about the incident. They responded with heartfelt words concerning the statistics. Maeve Healy, a freshman, says “when bad things happen, we change to make them better. This is exactly what needs to be done with gun laws. Every day in the news, I see boys and girls shot to death. This has even happened in my neighborhood. I can’t stand for anyone or anything that promotes gun laws because they enable horrible people to do horrible things.” Freshman Freddi Mitchell insists that, “As people who live in America, we need to force our representatives in Congress and the President to make a positive change for the country.” Senior David Malkin says, “It was devastating to watch it unfold and even scarier because the victims were the same ages as me and my friends; however, the way the students of Stoneman Douglas responded to the horrendous act was incredible. They could have easily just mourned but they decided to mobilize and take action.” The debate over gun control that has arisen at our school in light of this incident is best illustrated in the words of these two students. Freshman Liam O’Keefe says, “People will always get guns the same way people have always gotten products that are banned. Banning guns would be close to impossible. The only way to prevent mass shooting is to eliminate gun free zones. A sign won’t stop a criminal from using their gun. Training and arming teachers would prevent shootings as there is someone capable of defending themselves and the students. It would save lives and deter shooters from targeting schools as there is someone capable of fighting back.” On the other hand, Brandon Pita says, “I’m very proud of the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas. They seem to all have a drive for social activism and I think this wave of action by these teens is something the United States really needed. I hate guns, if it were up to me I’d throw the whole United States constitution away just to properly and specifically phrase the second amendment so it excluded guns.” Latin’s community has arguably never been more devastated, more divided, and more cognizant of this new danger. Thankfully, our school is aware of how moved its students are by the incident and is making an effort to address the community’s great unrest. The school had a moment of silence during Gathering recently, and counselors were available during lunch block to facilitate grief counseling for mourning students. Ms. Lawrence and Ms. Stevens kindly sent an email to parents with links for learning about how to discuss gun violence with children and Mr. Dunn sent an updated list of some safety procedures that the school plans to take. This, of course, does not mean the school has recovered from the event; however, it is steps like these that distinguish our community from others. The effect that the Marjory Stoneman Douglas School Shooting has had on our school and the nation is undeniable. For all those reading, I ask that we do not forget. That this devastating event does not become just another devastating event. That the names Alyssa Alhadeff, Scott Beigel, Martin Duque, Nicholas Dworet, Aaron Feis, Jaime Guttenberg, Chris Hixon, Luke Hoyer, Cara Loughran, Gina Montalto, Joaquin Oliver, Alaina Petty, Meadow Pollack, Helena Ramsay, Alex Schachter, Carmen Schentrup, and Peter Wang don’t amount only to statistics. I hope we never fully recover from the incident because too often recovery equates to forgetting. Regardless of your take on gun reform or the recent protests and debates concerning gun violence, this tragedy is simply not something we should, or can, forget. ]]>