Over the past two years, there have been a stunning 608 mass shootings that killed 698 people and injured 2,881, according the Gun Violence Archive. The data collection group defines a mass shooting as the shooting or killing of four or more people in one incident. However, the mass killing at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, carried out by a teenager who legally obtained a rifle, was something of a tipping point in the public outrage over gun violence.
Since the deadly mass shooting, student survivors spoke up on national television to express their anger. They organized protests at state capitols to push lawmakers to pass gun-control measures, and in March organized a rally, the “March for Our Lives,” where hundreds of thousands of people in Washington and at more than 800 partner rallies across the country demanded action from their elected officials, all to support their cause and in hopes that lawmakers would finally start listening.
The movement not only sparked a wave of student activism, but also led to the passing of several new gun laws. States across the country, including 14 with Republican governors, have since enacted a total of 50 new laws restricting access to guns. In March, Florida enacted a law that expanded background checks, banned bump stocks, allowed local authorities to temporarily restrict access for “red flag” gun owners (those reported by police or family members as potentially violent), and added a three-day waiting period to purchase a handgun. Vermont, which until this year had some of the loosest gun laws in the country, passed several measures to tighten its laws, including a ban on guns in K-12 schools, a red-flag law, and a law that expands background checks and bans high-capacity magazines.
Despite such progress, the fight for gun control is far from over. Some lawmakers managed to expand gun access such as with “stand your ground” laws, and Congress has failed to take action at the federal level. Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, argue that the gun violence is a manifestation of mental health problems and that there already are adequate gun control laws on the books.
I think everyone would agree that Parkland should not have happened. Sandy Hook, Orlando, Las Vegas, Santa Fe, and so many more shootings should not have happened.
An epidemic of violence cannot be cured with thoughts and prayers. How many people have to die before #NeverAgain means Never Again? Even if you are a 2nd Amendment advocate, please, ask yourself this question: Should we protect our guns, or should we protect our children?
The fight is far from over for gun-control advocates. The next true test will be the midterm elections in November. I urge you to let your voice be heard; be sure to vote on November 6.
Watch for Betrayal High, the fifth book in the Zachary Blake Legal Thriller series, in late 2019.