Seventeen. Seventeen innocent people were brutally murdered when a gunman attacked Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Wednesday, February 14, 2018. February 14th, Valentine's Day, a day known to be filled with love, was filled with anything but.
A gunman, whose name does not deserve to be mentioned, murdered a football coach, an athletic director, and fifteen high school students who went to work/school that day expecting it to be just another day. Could better gun control laws have prevented this terrible event from happening? We could continue to speculate, but we will never know for sure. Instead of using this tragedy to push political agendas, let's focus on another huge factor in events like this- mental health.
Let's call a spade a spade- this gunman was clearly mentally ill. Here's the thing though, nobody really did anything about it. His neighbors caught him stealing things from them, his classmates were afraid of him (some even joked about if their school were to ever get attacked by a gunman, it would be him), he posted pictures on social media of himself holding guns and is believed to have written a comment on a Youtube video saying "I'm going to be a professional school shooter," and he was expelled from his high school for having a knife on campus. There were red flags everywhere.
Again, could this tragedy have been prevented if the gunman got the mental help he clearly needed? Maybe, but then again, maybe not. Could better gun control have prevented this? We'll never know. But, when someone has the mindset to commit such a heinous crime, he/she would do so with any means necessary.
Let's end the stigma around mental health and get those help to those who need it. In no way am I using his mental illness to justify what the gunman did; this perpetrator deserves to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. What I am saying, however is that instead of pointing fingers at politicians and political parties for acts of individuals, let's come together to ensure a tragedy such as this never happens again.
So what can we really do to prevent another massacre from happening? Be aware of possible red flags and report them as soon as possible. It's better to be safe than sorry, especially in situations like this.