The shooting at a Florida high school is the eighth in the US already this year resulting in death — it's only February — and somehow the focus is on mental health rather than gun control.
Valentine’s Day. America.
Another day, another shooting.
This time it’s Parkland Florida where a disgruntled former student slaughtered 17 teenagers and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, just 72 kilometres north of Miami.
The death toll could easily rise with three victims critical and more injured. The Florida shooting is the eighth at an American school resulting in injury or death this year. Ironically, last year, Parkland was named Florida’s safest city.
But let’s put this into perspective.
Hang on, let’s not. Because we can’t.
Nothing has changed, in fact it’s worsened, since the original St Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929 when seven men were lined up and shot execution style in Chicago’s gang warfare.
There is no logic in a country dominated by a gun lobby determined to exercise its right to bear arms. It is estimated there are enough guns in the US to arm almost every citizen – that’s a lot of deadly weapons in a population boasting around 326 million people.
Let’s look instead at what gun violence has caused in America so far in 2018, remembering we are only into our sixth week of the new year.
• 1806 deaths
• 3,126 gun injuries
• 69 children shot or killed
• 331 teenagers shot or killed
• 181 incidents of defensive gun use
• 215 unintentional shootings
• 30 mass shootings
• 11 school shootings with injury or death
That’s 4,682 incidents involving guns since January 1.
Get your head around that.
IN 2017, there were 61,497 incidents with guns, resulting in 15,590 deaths. There were 346 mass shootings, 732 children under 11 killed and 3,234 teens aged between 12 and 17 killed.
A snapshot of life for those born in the USA reveals gun violence is responsible for:
• 13000 murders every year
• 96 people killed every day
• Seven children/teens killed every day
• 50 women shot dead by their partners every month
Granted, 62% of deaths by guns are from self-inflicted wounds, but one person per 100,000 residents will be murdered by a gun, making America’s gun-homicide rate more than 25 times the average of other high-income countries.
While America’s mass shootings earn global headlines, most fatalities go unrecognised. While there’s no legal definition, at least four victims must be shot, injured or dead, to qualify as a mass shooting. Two people shot is merely an incident.
What makes this multiple fatality shooting a little different is that the killer survived, rather than taking the coward’s way out and shooting himself.
Identified as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, the shooter was armed with an AR-15, a modern sporting rifle and one of the most popular fire arms sold.
Equipped with countless magazines and smoke bombs, he reportedly set off a fire alarm to create panic and flush teenagers and teachers into the hallway where he gunned them down.
Apparently, he had been expelled from the school for disciplinary reasons. Who cares. His gripe will mean nothing to the parents returning home without their children.
Those among the injured who survive will be scarred for life. Bullets do that. Apart from the lasting emotional terror wrought by being randomly gunned down, the ramifications of physical injuries, while rarely reported, are often catastrophic.
Take a bullet to the hip for example. One bullet to the hip can fracture multiple bones, damage internal organs and trigger internal bleeding. Blood transfusions and surgeries are ongoing, while infection is a constant threat.
The Florida shooting is now the ninth deadliest shooting since America’s first mass shooting in a school in 1966 at the University of Texas in Austin.
On August 1, after murdering his wife and mother, Charles Whitman carried weapons to the observation deck in the Main Building Tower where the former marine opened fire on people below for 90 minutes.
He killed 13 instantly, another died in hospital, yet another decade later from the lingering effects of wounds. His carnage ended only after he was shot dead by police.
Now, while American flags are lowered to half-mast and President Donald Trump offers his thoughts and prayers, there are no expectations for change.
My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting. No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 14, 2018
Once again, Trump has dismissed questions about gun control, preferring to shift the attention to mental health.
“We are committed to working with state and local leaders to help secure our schools and tackle the difficult issue of mental health,” he said in his address.
Senator for Florida, Marco Rubio, also issued a statement saying tougher gun laws would not have prevented the Stoneman Douglas massacre, or any that came before it.
“If we do something, it should be something that works. And the struggle up to this point has been that most of the proposals that have been offered would not have prevented, not just yesterday’s tragedy, but any of those in recent history,” he said.
According to The New York Times, Rubio had received $3.3 million from America’s National Rifle Association (NRA) as of October 2017.
It’s also no secret that the NRA has poured more than $50 million into political advertising to boost the Republican campaign and just two days ago it was revealed that Trump’s new budget would cut millions of dollars from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which gun dealers use to verify if someone is banned from buying a gun.
God bless America, because no one else can.