On February 14th, the community of Parkland, Florida was devastated by a senseless massacre that claimed the lives of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. That Valentine’s Day, shooter and former student Nikolas Cruz opened fire on the school, and also injured 23 others during his attack.
Following the assault, the conversation turned to gun control — as it always does following these tragedies — but that was only the start of the resistance to come. In an attempt to make sure this never happens again, students like Emma Gonzales and David Hogg became vocal survivors-turned-activists. Their outspoken, honest, and informed push not only kept the Parkland shooting in the media, but brought renewed life to the ongoing fight for reform. Involvement from students across the United States even birthed a national day of protest — the March For Our Lives — resulting in over 800 protests on the same day.
Still, with all the debate and resistance, nothing has been done on a federal level to prevent another massacre.
Instead, children who were recently targets of gun violence are being offered clear backpacks as the solution.
On Monday April 2nd, students of Stoneman Douglas returned to class for the first time since the February assault, and instead of new gun legislation being put into place to better protect students in school, new ID cards and clear backpacks are being treated as solutions.
Unfortunately, these new rules aren’t going to prevent senseless gun violence, and there are several reasons why they won’t work.
In the case of Stoneman Douglas and so many other school shootings, the shooter in question wasn’t even a student at the time of the attack.
Yes, Cruz was a former student at the school, but not at the time of the massacre. Clear backpacks would not have deterred him in the first place.
The devastating tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary back in December 2012 saw the loss of 26 individuals, most of whom were incredibly young children. In that attack, the perpetrator was 20-year-old Adam Lanza — yet another non-student whose violence would not have been stopped by a clear backpack regulation.
And even if clear backpacks could prevent shootings from occurring on school grounds, we tragically understand that school campuses are not the only places where we fear gun violence.
Back in July 2012, fans sat down in an Aurora theater, eager to watch the third installment of the new Batman trilogy. Instead, 10 people were killed when shooter James Holmes opened fire at the crowded premiere. Three years later in June 2015, Dylann Roof brutally murdered nine congregation members during bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
And history has shown us that we aren’t even safe outside. In October 2017, 58 people lost their lives and over 500 were injured when Stephen Paddock shot outdoor concert goers from the window of his 32nd floor hotel room in Las Vegas.
Despite these different locations, the common denominator in all of these terrible events is that they involve at least one highly dangerous firearm or assault weapon in the hands of someone who shouldn’t have had access to those weapons.
If we truly never want another Stoneman Douglas, then we need gun control that encourages thorough background checks, limits violent offenders and mentally ill folks from owning firearms, and outlaws assault rifles. Until then, clear backpacks might as well be synonymous with “thoughts and prayers” — neither are going to do much to stop gun violence.