2018, a year only two months old, has already seen a number of school shootings that parallels the level of gun violence seen in America. One of the most recent and horrific occurrences occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people (14 students and three faculty members) were killed and many more were injured.
This marks the country’s 17th shooting incident at a school in 2018, just 45 days into the year.
This an average of one shooting incident on a campus about every 63 hours thus far in 2018, more than doubling the number recorded in any of the previous three years in that same period. These numbers are in accordance with data compiled by the gun control advocacy organization Everytown for Gun Safety, which defines a school shooting as “any time a firearm is discharged on or around a campus.” Among these 17, six have resulted in wounded victims or fatalities.
Florida gunman Nikolas Cruz from the shooting in Florida has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
Four school shootings, including this one, populate the list of 10 deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history, according to CNN, and of the 30 deadliest shootings since 1949, 19 have occurred in the last decade.
According to a New York Times article on Thursday, there have been 239 school shootings in the U.S., causing 138 deaths. 16 of these shootings are classified as mass shootings.
“Gun violence in this country is an epidemic,” University College President Patty Lynott said. “Ninety-five percent of the citizenry want stronger gun laws. Responsible gun-owners (and I am one of them) want stricter gun laws. Preventing people from purchasing military-style assault weapons doesn’t eliminate our right to bear arms. Requiring tougher background checks doesn’t violate our constitutional rights.”
As a citizen, a parent and a college leader, Lynott questions how much longer it will be until stricter gun laws are implemented. “How many parents have to bury their children before we, as a country, finally do something to minimize these mass shootings? We keep telling ourselves this is a complex matter. We keep telling ourselves this is partisan issue. It should be neither. It should be a simple matter of protecting our children,” Lynott said.
As students on a college campus, it can be easy to give in to the fear that current events like this can create. In general, it can also be easy to subscribe to the cycle of “praying about it” on Facebook, and then not doing anything about it, and then sending up another handful of prayers and condolences when the next round of students is buried too early.
Violence on this scale, requires action. And active citizenship.
This means that as students it is necessary to be educated. As educators, it is necessary to be educated. As American citizens in any capacity, in any party, and in any part of the country, it is necessary to be educated. And it is necessary that that education extend beyond simply the act of being educated. It means voting.