by Abby Nye
On February 14, 2018, 17 students were killed and 15 were injured in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Since then, students who had experienced this shooting first hand have spoken up about gun control laws in the United States. “The tragedy at Stoneman Douglas was not because of Stoneman Douglas. It was because people like (shooter) Nik–Nikolas Cruz were able to buy these weapons,” student Cameron Kasky said to “Meet the Press.” Mass shootings have become somewhat commonplace in America recently, and this particular shooting has incited more activism than before. Students, teachers, politicians, and even celebrities have added their views into the mix, which has resulted in a national discussion on what we should do about gun control laws.
I believe that having access to such deadly weapons as the .223-caliber AR-15 should not be available to any citizen who has not undergone extensive weapon safety classes, training, and psychological evaluations. However, I do not believe that access to this weapon was what caused this mass shooting, nor do I believe that this causes any mass shooting. I believe that the real reason these mass shootings continue to plague our country is because we create such a media storm around it. Like horror movies, we are captivated by disturbing behavior and can’t stop watching.
The increased use of social media in events like mass shootings extends the availability of information. Young people may see this sort of news coverage and misunderstand the severity of the issue. The public is exposed to news articles again and again that show mourning families, the closed-down school, and the masses of people that come to pay respects. It’s an image of great influence that one person had over so many people. It may be triggering to see these images and desire to have that sort of influence over people. All it took in many instances was a weapon readily available, and a public place.
Instead of the constant media coverage of mass shootings, a more laid-back approach would limit the exposure of these horrific events to the public. This media coverage shows the influence and power of a shooter who may have felt powerless. Although it is our right as the public to know what is happening in our country and world, we need to take into effect the power of media.
News coverage should center around healthy growth and development of people, teaching us how to respond to mental health crises or to look out for signs of depression and other psychological disorders, and what to do if we notice one. If we are more informed in this aspect, we can watch out carefully for our neighbors and peers, looking to help all those around us find a place of peace and health. We do not need to wonder if the schools are safe for our children if we look to the world to find the warning signs before they become problems on a larger scale. Guns may be the weapon of choice, but it is our awareness of our peers that will help us to develop a more psychologically healthy society.
Contact Abby Nye at firstname.lastname@example.org