It appears a bunch of rich kids from the nation’s safest county may be able to get the nation’s politicians to act. Having 17 of the classmates and teachers murdered in a school where such things were not supposed to happen had got ‘em pretty riled up.
They have raised the call to at least make the AR-15 more difficult to purchase. Maybe such an effort is a start.
We are a culture created and steeped in violence. As has been since the dawn of humans, our nation started with the overthrow of its then-current inhabitants.
But it was not long before we started squabbling among, and killing, our own, and proudly proclaiming that part of our history.
We have a well-established tradition of blaming or crediting the weapon of choice. The 1873 Winchester rifle was “the gun that won the West.”. There were a couple of pistols that were given credit for making men, and some women, equal.
There is a large market for military-style – or at least advertised – tools and clothing. In some places, municipal police dress like swat team members. Many police departments around the nation have military vehicles and firepower purchased by U.S. government money. Facebook is virtually covered with advertising for “tactical” flashlights, clothing, sunglasses.
So it is not strange that a particular military-style weapon has been credited with the school shooting in Florida.
But those reportedly wanting to remove the AR-15 from civilian hands – or at least from the hands of mentally ill potential shooters – typically count the start of the shooting spree with Columbine where, in April 1999, David Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 13 of their schoolmates — with a shotgun, a rifle and a few bombs.
It is not happening only in schools. We oftimes forget the young people shot on city streets across the nation, usually with pistols, occasionally with weapons most of us would not know where to acquire.
There is a commonality among these events – the shooters seem all to have been cut off from the “normal” society. And they often are found to have posted selfies of themselves brandishing high-powered weaponry, as though such weaponry can replace the acceptance they crave.
Nicholas Cruz was adopted at an early age. His adoptive father died. His adoptive mother died later, only a few months before Cruz opened fire on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students.
Lots of kids are adopted, or lose their parents. Lots of kids enjoy shooting sports – hunting or target shooting; an Olympic event involves rifle shooting.
But according to the plethora of published reports, Cruz was socially isolated. So was Adam Lanza, the shooter at Sandy Hook. As were the two Columbine shooters.
Much of that isolation likely was self-perpetuated. Misbehavior begets isolationist response from authorities. Cruz misbehaved, was separated from his peers, misbehaved, separated, repeat. He was transferred to an alternative school, transferred back to his neighborhood school – six such transfers in three years.
I do not know how Cruz became convinced his only response to his situation was to kill a bunch of students at Marjory Douglas High School.
We can decide to ban certain types of weapons from civilian ownership. We already have plenty of examples of such bans.
But to expect such bans, or other weapon-specific actions, to cure the problem is misdirection. Those actions at best may offer short-term relief.
What made Nikolas Cruz, or Adam Lanza, or David Harris and Dylan Klebold, to think the answer to their problems was to kill their fellow students?
Answer that question, and we may be able to finally say, #NeverAgain.