The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida was a tragedy that took the lives of 14 students and three faculty members. Now the great discussion has started: what do we do about guns? According to some people, nothing. According to some people, it’s not the time to talk about guns. It’s time to talk about mental health, flaws in all levels of the government.
According to an article by Mark Berman of the Washington Post, the state of Florida’s social services agency investigated gunman Nikolas Cruz’s home life in 2016. Berman outlined in his article that the investigation uncovered that Cruz was cutting his arms on Snapchat, had a Nazi symbol on his backpack as well as another racial epithet, and stated his intention to buy a gun, which was later used in the school shooting that took place on February 14. A report done by the DCF listed that Cruz was suffering from depression and was ‘vulnerable’ from mental illness. This investigation was closed due to the conclusion that proper services and support were in place for Cruz. A few months after the investigation closed, Cruz bought his assault rifle.
This report from two years ago is not the only indication that Cruz was mentally unstable. Over the last few years, Broward County Sheriff’s Office had received around 20 service calls about Cruz. The FBI received a tip from someone who was close to Cruz stating they were worried about his “‘gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting.’” The FBI failed to make any form of response to this tip and that failure to act had extreme consequences.
Despite demonstrating disturbing behavior and having a history of mental illness and self-harm, Cruz was able to purchase a gun. Despite numerous reports to the county sheriff’s office and a tip made to the FBI, no action was taken to prevent this.
I don’t see why gun control is such an absurd concept for some people or that mental illness is such a taboo topic for some people. If recent events haven’t made it clear, action needs to be taken and services need to be provided. I’m not saying let’s take away everyone’s guns, because that would be in direct violation of the Second Amendment.
What I recommend is a routine background check and psychological evaluation done at specific time intervals upon purchasing a firearm as well as more services made aware to people and provided regarding mental illness. Guns have changed, but the law has not been changed with them. I also recommend the government try to learn from this failure on their part; respond to every tip given and provide the proper services. If you say nothing could have been done to prevent this tragedy, then you would be wrong.
All the information provided above and more can be found in the articles listed below: