3+ years after Parkland shootings
We're talking Cruz's execution instead of gun control.
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The former student who was accused of shooting and killing 17 people at his high school in Parkland, Fla., in 2018 plans to plead guilty to 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder, one of his lawyers said on Friday.
I was in South Florida the day heavily-armed student Nikolas Cruz entered Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland and killed 14 students and three staff members in 2018. Then-Gov. Scott had signed 5 Pro-gun bills in 2014 making Cruz fully able to purchase a gas mask, smoke grenade, and an AK-47 with extra magazines. All while under the age of 21 and still in high school. He was too young to buy beer but old enough to purchase an assault weapon.
I went to Parkland two days after the massacre and did some interviews with parents, educators, and students at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, all shaken with anger and despair, feelings that in the following months would inspire the energy behind a new movement for gun control. It was a movement led by the students themselves, that would sweep the nation and play a critical role in the political shift towards Democrats in the last election.
I’ve been closely following the wave of school shootings like the one in Parkland, Florida since my days as a member of Pres. Clinton's Advisory Commission on Youth Violence, following the 1999 mass shootings at Columbine H.S. in Littleton, Colorado. The Parkland shooting was reportedly the 208th since Columbine. Now that number has grown to 231 with 256,000 students now having experienced gun violence at school.
In the aftermath of the shooting, Parkland student activists formed March for Our Lives, a group that rallied hundreds of thousands around the country for tighter gun laws, including a nationally televised march in Washington, D.C., and a powerful new movement was formed. Chicago became the jump-off point for anti-gun rallies across the country. The Parkland students’ “Road to Change” tour was launched at the annual “Rally for Peace” at St. Sabina’s Church.
President Trump had wasted no time in blaming the students themselves for the massacre. NRA gun lobbyists began turning the screws on legislators to make sure they didn’t cave into the student demands. They haven’t, to say the least. If anything, they’ve made it easier now, especially in red states, for a school shooter to purchase an assault weapon than it was then. Neither the gun sellers nor manufacturers have been held accountable for any of the hundreds of mass shootings across the U.S..
Now, more than three years later, some of those feelings of grief and anger have returned as I watch videos of gun-toting fascist militias march unimpeded in public spaces and government buildings or see white supremacists like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene berating anti-gun student leaders and mocking news of the massacre.
What makes matters even worse is that the whole narrative around the Parkland shootings has now shifted away from gun control to whether or not Cruz should be given the death penalty.
As they enter the penalty phase of his trial and the public cry for Cruz’s execution begins in earnest in the media, prosecutors have vowed to pursue the death penalty.
I think it’s important to remember that Cruz was 19 at the time and had a history of mental health and behavior problems. He used a semiautomatic rifle that he had legally bought to carry out the assault. A state murder of Nickolas Cruz will do nothing to prevent more mass shootings but it will succeed in shifting the focus of the Parkland story from where it needs to be.
It will be a great and historic tragedy if this Dem majority in congress fails again on gun control.
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