Eighteen times since the beginning of 2018, that’s how many times firearms incidents have taken place in American schools in just six weeks. As reported by the Guardian, two of the firearms incidents in schools were the results of someone using a firearm to commit suicide on school premises. Eight times firearms have been discharged in American schools where, mercifully, no one was killed or injured. This means that when alleged gunman, Nikolas Cruz, walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day and shot dead at least 17 people, it was the eight such shooting in less than seven weeks.
As reported by CNN, Nikolas Cruz was a 19-year-old former pupil at the Florida school where he is alleged to have carried out one of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history. Cruz was described as a loner, a problem student who had been expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for disciplinary reasons. Cruz had a troubled home life and had made worrying posts on social media. Described as “strange” by some of those who knew him, Cruz had made a number of violent and gun-related posts on social media.
Of course, we are all shocked, though definitely not surprised, when someone like Nikolas Cruz embarks on a killing spree in one of America’s schools. The descriptions of Cruz that are emerging are remarkably similar to every perpetrator of similar mass shootings, and yet Cruz was able to source, and legally buy, an AR-15 assault rifle and numerous magazines.
President Trump alluded to Cruz’s background in a Twitter message earlier today. As so often in the past, Trump claims that the evidence shows that Cruz was “mentally disturbed.” Trump’s comments seem to place the blame for Cruz’s actions on “neighbors and classmates” who didn’t report concerns about Cruz to the relevant authorities.
So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 15, 2018
There we see the crux of the matter, responsibility for Cruz’s alleged killing spree is attributed to his mental health and responsibility is passed to the “imaginary someone” who should have stopped him. Trump makes no effort to recognize that the answer truly lies in preventing someone like Cruz from accessing deadly firearms in the first place. In doing so, President Trump is simply ignoring the elephant in the room.
Why Does President Trump Fail To Address Gun Control?
Every time a school shooting takes place, we hear the same claims from both sides of the gun control argument. Those who want gun control argue that legislation could have prevented a tragedy. The NRA and the pro-gun lobby trot out the same tired cliche, arguing that “guns don’t kill people, people do.” It is perhaps ironic, as reported by Business Insider, that the National Rifle Association hastily withdrew advertising yesterday that urged gun lovers to buy their loved one deadly weapons for Valentine’s Day.
Within hours of the killings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School yesterday, pro-gun Florida Senator Marco Rubio was urging people who want to see stricter gun control laws to “reserve judgment.”
.@marcorubio on reaction to FL school shooting: "People don't know how this happened: who this person is, what motivated them…I think it's important to know all of that before you jump to conclusions that there's some law that we could have passed that could have prevented it." pic.twitter.com/jmIOBGAiVx
— Fox News (@FoxNews) February 14, 2018
As reported by New York Magazine, it is perhaps ironic that Rubio was saying essentially the same thing after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. On that occasion, Rubio said that there would be “plenty of time for policy debate later.” Since that statement, just over five years ago, there have been at least 273 firearms incidents in American schools.
It isn’t that people like Donald Trump and Marco Rubio have been silent on gun control, nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, they argue that gun control laws should be relaxed. Trump even vetoed legislation that would have seen tougher checks on mentally ill people buying guns.
As President Trump’s tweet today makes clear, he believes that mass shootings are a “mental-health problem,” not a gun problem. Since Trump came to office, Republican’s have voted down over 30 pieces of legislation aimed at introducing some measure of gun control. The message is clear, there will be no gun control measures during Donald Trump’s tenure in the White House.
The facts seem straightforward. The gun lobby is too powerful, and Republicans will not tackle the issue because it would cost them votes in the Red States. Trump, Rubio, and many other Republicans will not countenance any form of gun control because it would cost them votes. The reality is that Trump and Rubio are happy to buy those votes with the lives of America’s young people.
School Shootings Are A Uniquely American Problem
Make no mistake: school shootings are an American problem, and they are virtually unheard of elsewhere in the world. Where there have been at least 273 gun incidents in American schools since Sandy Hook, the numbers elsewhere are tiny.
In Europe, there have been just three school shootings since 2012. One each in France, Estonia, and Russia, there were just three fatalities as a result of those attacks. During the same period, there were no such attacks in Oceania, including in Australia and New Zealand. In South America, there has been just one attack since 2012: two students were killed during an attack by a schoolmate at Goyases School in Goiania, Brazil.
Asia has seen just one attack on a school. In that incident, Taliban terrorists killed 145 people at a military school, though that was an orchestrated and politically motivated terrorist attack by multiple assailants rather than a lone wolf attack, as is more usual in the United States.
Africa has suffered just three school shootings since 2012. In 2013, a single student was killed in a school in Cape Town, South Africa. The authorities believe that incident was gang-related. The other two attacks were both terrorist attacks by Islamic militants. Terrorist group Boko Haram murdered at least 42 people when they attacked a school in Mamudo, Yobe State, Nigeria.
An attack by Somali Al-Shabaab militants killed 147 students at Garissa University College in 2015. This, once again, was a terrorist attack involving multiple Islamic terrorists.
Consider that for a moment, in the entire world there have been just eight school shootings since Sandy Hook. Three of those were major terrorist incidents leaving just five attacks similar to U.S. incidents in five years. Compare that with 273 similar incidents in American schools during the same period.
The fact is that gun control laws in the United States are among the most relaxed of any nation in the world. It can’t be a coincidence that school shootings take place more than 50 times more frequently than on the rest of planet combined. School shootings are an American problem and those who represent you are putting self-interest before the lives of your children. Mass shootings in American schools are the “new normal.”