Gun Violence in Parkland Florida

There are over thirty thousand deaths a year in the United States related to gun violence with Americans using guns for defensive purposes as many as a million times every year. These deaths are as a result of suicides, homicides and accidents. It is evident that gun violence and gun control are issues of serious national importance and are worth debating. The main issues and arguments found in the debate over gun control in the United States have not changed a lot over the past few years. This paper discusses gun violence in Parkland Florida making policy arguments and citing solutions that can be applied at a local level to reduce such violence.

Looking at the growing number of people that are killed and injured in mass shootings, murders and suicides annually, we find that little has been done to strengthen permeable federal gun laws since the year 1996 when legislation was passed prohibiting individuals that had been convicted of crimes relating to domestic violence from owning firearms. In recent years congress has been seen to be weakening federal gun laws by providing the gun industry with immunity against many lawsuits and also preventing the release of crime gun trace data. Instructions are issued that require the destruction of background data from background checks within 24 hours hence limiting research that might threaten the gun lobby. Over the years Americans have been shaken by the frequency of mass shootings (Kleck 2017) in schools with one of the worst cases having been the Sandy Hook elementary mass shooting that took place in Newton Connecticut on December 14, 2012 where a twenty year old man by the name of Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 children between the ages of six and seven and six staff members. Following this the most recent case of mass shooting happened in Parkland Florida on February 14, 2018 at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The incident also involved a young man nineteen years of age by the name of Nikolas Cruz who shot and killed seventeen people injuring at least fourteen more in the process. The perpetrator was shortly after arrested and confessed to the shootings where he was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and other counts of attempted murder. After the incident took place student and parents from the school arranged a protest march going by the name March for Our Lives and a national school walkout where they called on their school going peers from all over the country to demand for action in relation to gun laws and protection of children. The events that were held on March 14th and 24th were aimed at calling on congress to act on gun violence with speeches being issued by students who survived the shooting calling on those in power to make to make changes while terming their reasons for supporting gun violence as bullshit.

Through out the years it is evident that after such incidences occur there are always renewed calls for action to be taken in relation to gun violence but nothing major ever changes. In most cases these calls go nowhere with just a few states making legislations in relation to age limits on gun acquisition but nothing further than that takes place and once the chaos dies down people move on with their lives until the next incident takes place. A few years ago people were pleased to see President Barack Obama and vice president Joe Biden call for stronger gun laws. Congress held hearings on issues (Ludwig et al 2001) that had been dormant for a long time and a number of bills were introduced to strengthen federal gun laws. One of the bills included called for the expansion of background checks for some gun sales but later on the bill did not garner enough support. One of the gun related legislations that were passed included the renewal of a ban on fire arms that could not be detected by metal detectors. In light of this we do find that gun laws have been strengthened in fifteen states with the jurisdictions touched accounting for 44% of the U.S population. Gun access is among one of the rights protected by the second amendments and with this in mind we find gun violence is a problem that is lodged in people’s lives. Many times on the news we see young people losing their lives as a result of mass shooting happening in school districts but the core problem related to gun violence is not addressed. It is evident that the availability of guns in the United States leads to the frequency in mass shootings that have been taking place now and then. People in the country are able to acquire guns both legally and illegally using them for protection or criminal acts.

Many numbers of children and youth are exposed to gun violence each year in their schools, homes and even communities and these violent experiences can leave lasting emotional scars on children. Those exposed to such incidences may experience short or long term psychological effects such as withdrawal, anger, posttraumatic stress and desensitization to violence which then adds onto the cycle of violence. Other are found to be at high risk of negative outcomes if and when they (Garbariono et al 2002) are exposed to gun violence such as those who sustain injuries from these actions. Research indicates that an estimated 43% of American households have some type of gun in their possession and despite their prevalence there is an ongoing struggle that questions the proper place for these items in the society. Gun violence can be considered an important aspect of problems related to aggression amongst children and youth in the society because it substantially increases the intensity of various aggressive acts. Unlike other weapons where guns are concerned momentary aggressive impulses turn to be lethal very fast since killing with a gun takes a very short amount of time compared to other blunt objects or even knives. Mental illness is also regarded as one of the causes of gun violence with some cases that have happened in the past being associated with people who have psychological problems. People that suffer from mental conditions are found to be erratic and violent in nature and also in most cases unable to take care of themselves. These characteristics as seen by the public are what aid in the growing fear and need to keep a distance from these people and in the process stigmatizing them. This then increases their chances of relapses, suicides and also violent behavior such as the planning and execution of mass killings. Research conducted indicates that around 60% of the perpetrators involved in mass shootings in the US from the 1980’s showed symptoms of depression, delusions and paranoia before they carried out these acts of violence. Upon further background checks some had been seeing psychiatrist’s months before they ended up committing these acts of violence. In some states laws have been enacted requiring medical practitioners to report people that they think might be a danger to themselves and the community allowing the authorities to confiscate any guns in their possession.

Due to increased gun violence in the communities in the past, some states such as New York had employed various tactics on a local level to ensure they reduced crimes committed by the use of guns and the possession of illegal fire arms by the youth. In the city an elite street crimes unit used aggressive stop and search tactics to reduce illegal gun carrying in neighborhoods known to be high crime areas. In other cities police asked for parental consent to be able to search homes and confiscate illegal firearms that were kept by teenagers. In recent times where technology has become more advanced gun safety technology has not been left behind and research describes the emergence of personalized guns that cannot be fired by unauthorized users. Locally parents can also take on the initiative to search for firearms hidden by young teenagers in their homes and also make sure those in the business of selling guns in their localities conduct extensive (Webster et al 2014) background checks before selling firearms to people. Schools can also employ body guards and police officers where applicable to provide protection to young ones and also be in a position to detect when perpetrators are making moves towards schools and other premises. Although mass killings are frequent in the United States, they only account for a small percentage of the overall number of killings that happens via the use of guns. When school shootings and other types of mass shootings occur there is always a surge in the number of stories touching on mental health in relation to mass shootings and also reforms that may be applied when it comes to gun access. However we find that reforms where gun access is concerned are slow to actualize and only a few changes are made but no great overhauls are done when it come to legislation of gun policies. Here then we see that guns are considered a part of the American culture deeply rooted in their past and future as well making it difficult for the American people to downplay their importance while at the same time they are caught at a cross roads when the same items cause havoc and unrest in the society leaving people dead and families grieving. People must then ask themselves whether having these items is worthwhile in the end or are the lives of children more important. It continues to be a serious issue with children such as those from Parkland Florida taking it upon themselves to call for changes in legislations where gun access is concerned following the lack of safety in their communities where they are meant to call home.

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