Parkland: One year later, what has changed?
It’s been one year since the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School changed the gun conversation in this country “by laying the bleeding bodies of their classmates across the nation’s heart,” said Charles Pierce in Esquire.com. When 17 people were shot down in Parkland, Fla., last year, I was prepared for more of the usual outpouring of “thoughts and prayers” followed by no action whatsoever. Instead, Parkland students Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, and others demanded more. They organized massive marches, lobbied lawmakers, and took their case to “every media platform that exists.” In the last year, Florida and eight other states have adopted “Red Flag” laws allowing family and law enforcement to restrict dangerous individuals’ access to guns. Democrats won numerous competitive House districts by campaigning for gun control. “The Parkland kids did that.”
Parkland has become synonymous with gun control, said Robby Soave in Reason.com, but it’s really a story of “government incompetence.” Law enforcement ignored more than a dozen warnings about the troubled shooter; one tipster even described him as a “school shooter in the making.” While the massacre was going on, several armed deputies refused to enter the school and cowered outside. The logic of gun control is that “people don’t need guns because the government is protecting them.” Parkland seriously challenges that assumption. It was, in fact, “the most avoidable mass shooting” in recent history, said Mairead McArdle in NationalReview.com. But the Parkland families advocating for better school safety procedures have been written out of the story. The media is only interested in calls for “blanket gun control.”
Despite Parkland, Americans remain divided on gun control, said Emily Stewart in Vox.com. In a “familiar pattern,” the surge of support for greater gun control after Parkland has faded. Immediately after the shooting, 71 percent of Americans said there should be tighter gun laws. A recent poll found that slipping to 51 percent. But the intensity on the gun control side is stronger than before, so “things still may be shifting in a different direction.” Meanwhile, the carnage continues, said Helaine Olen in The Washington Post. Over the past year, 1,200 children 18 or younger have died from gun violence. In a country that overprotects its kids, this ongoing slaughter “is both a tragedy and a national embarrassment.”
Al Diaz/Miami Herald/TNS, Alamy ■