Remembrance of the Massacre at MSD: Ripping off the bandages
For many in South Florida, especially in Broward County, it is hard to see the displays of Valentine’s Day decor and candy at the front of every store. The sea of pink and red hearts is a stark contrast to the anniversary of a day that seemed so loveless.
On February 14th, 2018, seventeen beloved students and educators at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were shot and killed by someone in the wrong place at the wrong time that should not have had access to weapons. It opened up many discussions about gun control and has revealed how flawed our approach to such events are.
People focus too much on the drama and spectacle of the shooting and not the 17 lives that were taken due to several institutional failures.
As a student in Broward County, I noticed that when the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting happened, we started having a student resource officer (SRO) on campus in my elementary school. To many children at the school, this forewarned that a similar event was bound to happen again.
Then, when tragedy harrowed over our county almost six years later, changes took place once again. Students were required to wear their school identification tags, faculty cut down on students roaming the halls, and multiple SROs were placed on campus.
Most alarming of all were the active-shooter drills, which simulated the environment of a school shooting, that students had to start participating in. It was said that some teachers broke down crying during these hyper-realistic drills over the summer.
The SRO at the Parkland high school, Scot Peterson, fled the scene of the shooting. According to the landmark Supreme Court case of DeShaney v. Winnebago County DSS, Peterson’s actions were justified because the government and police have no Constitutional obligation to protect anyone from harm from another person. If not the government, then who?
It seems as if it is easier to place superficial bandages on a gaping, festering wound and subject students to the knowledge that they are not safe every day that they attend school than to address the fundamental issues that cause these horrific events to occur. These were not things that happened on a whim but the result of multiple institutional and personal failures.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) and the gun manufacturing industry play a large role in the reoccurrence of these events. Two years before the MSD shooting, the NRA spent over $412 million on lobbying and other political endeavors, with most of their money deriving from gun manufacturers like Crimson Trace and Sturm Rugar who donate percentages of firearms sales to the organization.
The NRA not only maintains the demand for guns through advertisements and lobbying but also serves as a scapegoat whenever mass shootings occur. Instead of gun manufacturers absorbing the brunt of the criticism, the NRA is left to clean up these PR disasters. To many politicians and officials who receive generous donations from the NRA, it is not about upholding the Constitution or protecting citizens’ rights, but about the money that they pocket.
A few months after the MSD massacre, the largest attack on the Jewish community took place in U.S. history in Pittsburgh, leaving 11 people dead during Shabbat morning services at the Tree of Life – Or L’Simcha Congregation.
We can tear down the buildings where these tragedies took place and fill our minds with Valentine’s Day preparations, but we can not go back in time to remove guns from the hands of potential murderers and empty the halls of MSD’s 1200s building.
To ensure that the safety of schools and places of worship remain standing, changes need to be made at the institutional level, as opposed to relying on performative bandages to keep children and citizens alive in places that were supposed to keep them safe.