On February 14, a devastating mass shooting at a high school in Florida left 17 dead and many injured. The attack occurred at 2.25pm (7.25pm GMT) on Valentine’s Day. Chilling visuals of the shooting and of parents, relatives and friends waiting anxiously outside the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida left many across the world gutted. The person who opened fire at the teachers and students was a 19-year-old man, whom the police identified as Nikolas Cruz. He was arrested in nearby Coral Springs and it has come to light that he was expelled from Douglas for disciplinary reasons. While the authorities investigate the reason behind the attack, citizens are drawing attention to a larger problem – that of ‘policy change’ and ‘gun control’. The Gun Violence Archive data shows that there have been 30 mass shootings since January 1, or one every 1.5 days.
Celebrities including Kim Kardashian West, Reese Witherspoon and Julianne Moore have called for a policy change. Kim tweeted that ‘we owe it to our children and teachers to keep them safe while in school’. She reiterates that this time, not ‘Prayers’ but ‘Action’ is the need of the hour. Reese said that she is ‘heartbroken’ by yet another news of school shooting, and says “enough is enough”. Ellen DeGeneres said ‘no laws are enough’ in the wake of such chilling mass shootings.
Julianne Moore questioned on Twitter: ‘What will it take to change our nation’s gun laws?’ The celebrities were joined by thousands of citizens, who tweeted that #GunControl was of utmost importance. #GunControl and #EndGunViolence trended on Twitter for a long time. The accused, Cruz, was believed to have been armed with an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle and multiple magazines, reports the NBC. It might be noted that in Florida and in several other parts of the US, there is no requirement of a gun permit to purchase firearms. This is a policy that many have been questioning, especially considering the sharp spike in the number of mass shooting cases.
Here is what the celebrities said on Twitter:
Cruz, reportedly, had been enrolled at another school in the district. His former classmates described him to be a “loner”. Cruz’s senior has been quoted saying that he was “crazy about guns”. Police state that the firing began at about 2.40pm, when Cruz reportedly pulled the fire alarm and shot victims as they left classrooms. He then blended in with pupils and left the campus, but was arrested in nearby Coral Springs. He was then treated for “labored breathing” as a precaution but was released from the hospital. The school had remained under lockdown for several hours, before the suspect was caught. Of the 30 mass shootings since January this year, 18 have happened in schools.