• Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

Five years on from Parkland

ByJasmine Whitehouse

Feb 24, 2023
Parkland crowd

On February 14th, 2018, a former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida returned to the school with a legally bought AR-15 rifle and several magazines of ammunition. In an attack that lasted 10 minutes, seventeen students and staff lost their lives, making it the deadliest shooting ever in an American high school. In the aftermath, national movements like March for Our Lives and #NeverAgain emerged led by the survivors and would see success as 50 new gun control laws were passed across the U.S. in the aftermath of the tragedy.

However, as the Parkland community gathered last week for ceremonies and memorials in honour of the five-year anniversary of the massacre, the nation was in the midst of mourning. The same week, three people died in a mass shooting at Michigan State University, and another occurred in El Paso, Texas, just down the road from the Walmart where a white supremacist killed 23 people in 2019. While last week should have been a moment for remembrance, it became a stark reminder of what the Parkland movement could not achieve.

So where does the movement go from here? How can we prevent another Parkland? For any British reader, and generally most non-Americans, the answer seems blatantly easy and obvious; “Just ban guns. It worked for us.” Before Parkland, I would have agreed without hesitation.

While I am a passionate supporter of arms bans and regulations and believe that legislation is the first step, I’m no longer confident that it will stop the violence. With the rise of ‘ghost guns’ and the increasing use of technology to create homemade weapons, such as 3-D printers that can make a fully functional pistol from free online files, gun control advocates in the U.S. need to start giving weight to the argument made by second amendment supporters that if criminals want a gun, they will find one. The American love for guns will not end with a piece of legislation. Instead, gun reform in the U.S. is a fight that must be fought on multiple fronts.

Americans treat school shootings like true crime podcasts, with a morbid fascination and desire to understand the mindset of the person who committed the act. We want to know them, and in the process, the news cycle and discussions glorify them as something beyond human. Furthermore, when Americans play first-shooter games or watch a movie about a misunderstood hero getting redemption by blaring a machine gun (see Taken, The Equalizer, or John Wick)- there is always the knowledge they could do that in real life.

Thus, the best way to honour Parkland victims and others who have lost their lives to this senseless violence is to stop romanticising and fetishising any form of gun violence. It is to realise that entertainment, news, and politics are deeply intertwined to create culture, and a culture that loves guns will not see them disappear so easily.

Image Credit: #parkland #msdstrong #neveragain #enough” by dcwriterdawn is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.