One Year Since Parkland.

Mandatory+Credit%3A+Photo+by+Erik+Pendzich%2FREX%2FShutterstock+%289475271an%29%0ASir+Paul+McCartney+and+Billie+Jean+King%0A%27March+For+Our+Lives%27+protest%2C+New+York%2C+USA+-+24+Mar+2018
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One Year Since Parkland.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Erik Pendzich/REX/Shutterstock (9475271an)
Sir Paul McCartney and Billie Jean King
'March For Our Lives' protest, New York, USA - 24 Mar 2018

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Erik Pendzich/REX/Shutterstock (9475271an) Sir Paul McCartney and Billie Jean King 'March For Our Lives' protest, New York, USA - 24 Mar 2018

Erik Pendzich/REX/Shutterstock

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Erik Pendzich/REX/Shutterstock (9475271an) Sir Paul McCartney and Billie Jean King 'March For Our Lives' protest, New York, USA - 24 Mar 2018

Erik Pendzich/REX/Shutterstock

Erik Pendzich/REX/Shutterstock

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Erik Pendzich/REX/Shutterstock (9475271an) Sir Paul McCartney and Billie Jean King 'March For Our Lives' protest, New York, USA - 24 Mar 2018

Drue Cappawana, Opinion Editor

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It has been one year since seventeen teenagers and adults were massacred at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Following the shooting in the south Florida town, there was a surge in activism, primarily led by the young students who survived the shooting at Stoneman Douglas. These students have become household names, like Cameron Kasky and Jaclyn Corin. They have been advocating for tighter gun laws, including the banning of assault-style rifles, like the AR-15 used at Stoneman Douglas, further funding for mental health resources, and the implementation of universal background checks (more on that below). Synonymous with the activism for stricter gun laws has been the organization started by the Stoneman Douglas students, March for Our Lives. This organization, started by those aforementioned Parkland students, is the organized effort to accomplish those goals on a state-by-state level. The organization has chapters across the country, and the March for Our Lives FLEX club here at MASH is currently undergoing review to become one of those chapters.

Across the country, states have adopted new gun laws to prevent further tragedies like the one in Parkland. According to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, 26 states have passed 67 such measures which would likely reduce gun violence, Pennsylvania being one of them. Pennsylvania passed a law in 2018 which reduced the amount of time a person convicted of a domestic violence offense to 24 hours.

There have already been 37 mass shootings in the United States, while we are 45 days into the year 2019, according to the Gun Violence Archive. We are averaging over two mass shootings per week in this country, and yet we refuse to take any action that would result in real change. We can change the language of gun laws all we want, but until we actually create laws that prevent the spread of firearms to those who should not have them, this will not change. And I know that there exist those readers who will point to Chicago, Illinois as an example of gun laws not working, I ask that you do some research into the gun laws of the state of Illinois before making that claim. Illinois allows people to carry firearms into the state, as long as they conceal it in a vehicle and they are permitted to conceal carry in the state from which they originate. There is an issue with people abusing that policy and carrying weapons into Chicago, where they illegally sell those firearms to gang members, who then use them to commit violent crimes. An NBC Chicago news report verified that claim in 2017, saying “Nearly 60 percent of guns recovered in Chicago come from out-of-state dealers, with more than 20 percent traced back to Indiana…” Perhaps, as the NBC Chicago report adds, if there was a gun registration system, where all gun purchases were registered into a secure database, law enforcement would be able to enforce the existing laws in a more precise manner and bring killers to justice.

However, a registration system would not be the ultimate solution to the epidemic of gun violence in the United States. There is currently a resolution in the House of Representatives which calls for the adoption of background checks for all gun sales, and it recently underwent a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee. While the resolution, if passed, could not become law, it would send a message to the Republican-controlled United States Senate that it is time for a change.

It is disgraceful that the politicians whose pockets are lined with so-called “blood money” from the National Rifle Association continue to claim that change to our gun laws would not bring about a decrease in gun violence, despite the fact that gun control has worked across the world. In Australia, after a shooting in 1996 in which 35 were killed, the Australian parliament passed the National Firearms Agreement, which implemented strict gun control measures in all six states and two territories. This agreement came just twelve days after the Port Arthur Massacre. The fact that it has taken an entire year and an election cycle to create a mere house resolution on background checks that likely won’t become law due to the headstrong Republican caucus in the Senate is absolutely disgraceful to the thousands of families rocked by gun violence in the past decade and beyond. Kamala Harris was exactly right when she said: “I think somebody should have required all those members of Congress to go in a room, in a locked room with no press and nobody else, and look at the autopsy photographs of those babies.” It’s long been time for a change, and the fact that pundits on Fox News say that it’s not the right time for politics after a shooting and instead offer their thoughts and prayers is a direct slight against the families whose children have been slaughtered in school and on the streets and in their homes. One full year since Parkland. And it’s still time for change.

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One Year Since Parkland.