Yet another school shooting occurred yesterday, February 14th, in Parkland, Florida. It was a senseless act of violence that took the lives of 17 people and injured 23 more. And one day later, February 15th, House Speaker Paul Ryan declared that this most recent shooting should not interfere with citizens’ rights to purchase guns.
In an interview for Indiana radio station WIBC, Ryan said that the response to the shooting shouldn’t involve “taking away citizens’ rights.”
Ryan expressed his condolences and called the shooting “horrific” before contending that he felt legislators should wait to make policy changes until factors like the shooter’s motive were revealed.
In a separate February 15th news conference, Ryan doubled down on his position that now is not the time for “taking sides and fighting each other politically.” He mentioned legislation that the House of Representatives passed in December to ensure that domestic abuse charges are reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NCIS). However, the December NCIS reform legislation was bundled with another bill that loosened concealed carry restrictions.
According to Politico, Ryan received $336,567 in donations from the NRA during the 2016 election cycle.
The Florida shooter, Nikolas Cruz, used an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle to carry out the massacre. He had legally purchased the weapon in 2017. According to The New York Times, in Florida, this rifle, which was originally designed for military use, is easier to buy than a handgun.
Several students who survived the shooting have spoken out to say that they want gun control. One student, Sarah, wrote in a now-deleted tweet that she wanted President Donald Trump to “do something instead of sending thoughts and prayers.” And other students have also spoken up asking for gun control.
There have been 18 school shootings in 2018, just 46 days into the new year. Even though politicians like Ryan say that now is not the time to talk about gun control, the reality is that the longer we wait, the more shootings we will have to endure. Ryan was right about one thing, though: We shouldn’t be taking sides in this moment. Instead, we should be working together to end gun violence.