Op-Ed: #NeverAgain is Happening Again

Savanna Spadalik, Staff Writer

307. That’s how many shootings there have been in 311 days in 2018. Gun violence has been the new upcoming topic of discussion in today’s society. Many argue whether the National Rifle Association (NRA) should have stronger background checks or not, as well as stricter gun laws. According to The New York Times, after the infamous school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, more than 400 people have been shot in over 200 school shootings. In order for the United States to decrease their rate of school shootings, it is essential that the NRA takes the lead in the enforcement of stricter procedures and background checks for purchasing guns and rifles.  

Twenty years ago, the last thing that was on the minds of American citizens was school shootings. Parents didn’t have to worry when sending their children off to school, and students weren’t afraid to walk to class. In 1999, after the worst school shooting in U.S. history happened at Columbine High School, the notorious event set a precedent for many years to come. Even though the two shooters, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, were evidently bullied and had psychological issues, they illegally owned the guns, which they purchased from a friend. As a result, 15 lives were taken, including the shooters themselves, and 24 more were injured. School was supposed to be a safe place for students to be. After the shooting, the NRA claimed they supported universal background checks, but in his first public address after the Columbine massacre, the executive Vice President of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, complained that the NRA’s policies “have become so widely mischaracterized that America can’t keep in focus a clear understanding of what our principles are.” He said the NRA supported gun-free school zones, prosecuting more criminals, and imposing harsher sentences for gun crimes. However, according to ABC News, “270 – [that is] the number of shootings of any kind at a school since Columbine.” Obviously, the NRA’s stricter stance on gun laws isn’t working.

Now in 2018, Columbine is no longer classified as “the worst school shooting” in U.S history. It has been replaced with even more notorious school shootings including Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, and most recently, Parkland. Even though the NRA has helped pass bills regarding gun control, that still hasn’t stopped the ease of getting one’s hands on a gun. Many citizens believe that it is not the NRA’s fault for the occurrence of school shootings, but the fault of inadequate school security. Students in America don’t care who’s fault it is, they want a sense of safety and security, knowing that they can walk in and out of school alive everyday. As a writer and student, I too am afraid of where and when the next school shooting will be. In today’s society, it can happen anywhere and at any moment. Columbine, the “worst school shooting,” was replaced with the Parkland shooting. On February 14th, 2018, Nikolas Cruz took the lives of 17 people. He had psychological problems and legally purchased his semiautomatic rifle. According to USA Today, “Federal law allows people 18 and older to legally purchase long guns, including this kind of assault weapon. With no criminal record, Cruz cleared an instant background check via the FBI criminal database.” Even though Cruz was cleared for a background check because of his age and lack of a criminal record, he obviously wasn’t psychologically stable enough to responsibly own and operate a weapon.

The multitude of school shootings that have perpetuated since Columbine indicates that our present gun control laws and guidelines aren’t working. In order for students, teachers, and the public in general to be safe on school property and in public places, the NRA must encourage stricter laws regarding gun control. It is essential that a more stringent screening protocol and background history for legal gun applicants be put into effect. Likewise, the ramifications and punishment for illegal sale and transfer of weapons must be carried out. If we, as a nation, are not willing to tolerate any future senseless school shootings, then it is the obligation of the NRA to take the lead in the enforcement of stricter procedures and background checks for purchasing guns and rifles.