Parkland school shooting: Insight from an international student

Taehui Park
Staff Writer

Feb. 14 was Valentine’s Day.

Everyone would recall flowers, chocolate, and love letters in celebration of romance and romantic love for the special day. However, it was a horrifying and painful day for people in Parkland, Florida, especially students at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, their families, and friends.

At least 17 people were killed in a mass shooting at the high school Wednesday afternoon. The victims were mostly students and adults. The suspect, armed with an AR-15 rifle, was identified as Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old male, who had been expelled from the school, according to Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.

It has been less than two years since I came to the United States. Because there are so many cultural differences I have run into so far, I cannot enumerate all of them at once; however, the biggest difference that gave me a huge shock was the 2017 Las Vegas shooting.

Even though I am from South Korea—many people assume that all Koreans know about guns—I have never heard of the phrase “mass shooting” until I came here. It is no exaggeration to say that I have been inured to the typical U.S. news regarding “guns.”

There have been 18 school shootings in the first 45 days of 2018, including the Parkland shooting, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control organization. This statement still brings controversy on the internet, whether the Parkland school shooting is the “18th” school shooting in the U.S in 2018.

Nonetheless, the fact we need to focus on is not the exact number of carnage, but the reality where children are worried about their safety or the fact that they will have to bury their classmates.

President Donald Trump responded to the Parkland school shooting on Thursday by speaking directly to children across the country, saying children should seek help if they feel “lost, alone, confused or even scared.”

“I want to speak now directly to America’s children, especially those who feel lost alone confused or even scared. I want you to know that you are never alone and you never will be,” said Trump in his televised remarks from the White House Diplomatic Reception Room.

Even though this tragedy can be seen as one of the typical U.S. mass shootings for somebody, the massacre in Florida doesn’t seem to fully ignite a national debate in terms of the possibility of changes to gun control laws. In other words, Trump and Republican lawmakers haven’t put much effort into regulating gun laws even after a series of previous mass shootings. This makes me reconsider what Trump said when he signed the revised executive order banning people from Muslim-majority countries from setting foot in the United States in 2017.

“I am establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America,” he said.

But the reality was a bit different from what Trump had mulled over. In fact, between 2001 and 2015, more Americans were killed by homegrown right-wing extremists than by Islamist terrorists, according to a study by New America, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, D.C.

What I want to say through the Parkland massacre and Trump’s previous statement is to take measures of preventing any act of gun violence and terrorism happening in the U.S. as it is important to protect citizens from outside attack.

I still remember what Bill O’Reilly said about the Las Vegas shooting in 2017. He called the mass shooting “the price of freedom.” Despite the fact that no one can standardize any of sphere of freedom, I believe somebody must do something to prevent further tragedies. People need to pull out all the stops to let ingenuous children safely go to school without worrying about being another victim of a mass shooting. Nothing will change if you just sit there worrying about the safety of your loved ones.

Photo: Mourners hug as they leave the funeral of Alaina Petty, in Coral Springs, Fla., Monday, Feb. 19, 2018. Petty was a victim of Wednesday’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Nikolas Cruz, a former student, was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder on Thursday. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Gabe Hewitt

Gabe is a junior mass media student at MSU. He's usually up for anything. You can find him on Twitter (@gabehewitt) or you can email him at gabriel.hewitt@mnsu.edu.

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