There will be a lot of commemorations today to mark the first anniversary of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Our school administration will hold a moment of silence in the entryway to our building that houses the offices of the fourth-largest school district in the country, and I am very sure that there will be sincere and meaningful words spoken to honor the memories of the people who were killed and comfort the families of the lost. And well there should be; to forget them and the moment is as much as crime as the assault itself.
But we should also remember that not a whole lot has been done to prevent something like that from happening again, because since that horrible day in February, a lot more people have been killed or wounded in mass shootings both in schools and other places. Legislation has been passed in Florida to harden the schools so a gunman will find it harder to get in, and I know for a fact that millions of dollars are being allocated to beef up security, hire more school police, and buy closed-circuit TV equipment to see them coming before they enter the schoolyard.
That’s fine; I’m sure the people of Florida are all in favor of having safe schools, although based on some of the plans I’ve read about, the school is going to look more like a prison than a place of learning. And in all the dollars being allocated for new door locks, new CCTV systems, new ID card readers, and new school resource officers (that’s “police” in educational lingo), I haven’t seen anything put up to prevent anyone from arming themselves and going off.
I don’t mean gun control; that’s not going to happen as long as the gun-rights people hold the strings of power in Tallahassee and Washington, and repealing the Second Amendment isn’t going to happen at all. (We Americans love our anachronisms: the Second Amendment is from a time when the country was 98% rural and we had no standing army. It has survived, just as our 18th century system of weights and measures has, and defiantly so. We’re not giving an inch.) And even if we did, it would only increase the black market for guns and ammo. Take a lesson from Prohibition. What I mean is that nothing is being done to seek out and get help for people who might commit harm to themselves and others.
That sounds hard to do, and it is, but in nearly every case after the horror and the smoke is clearing, someone steps up and says they saw signs that the shooter was having problems, but, and they always say this, “I had no idea they’d go this far.”
Does that mean we should all be paranoid and freaked out every time someone on the train starts talking to themselves or accosts you for whatever reason is causing their outburst? Common sense can distinguish between someone listening to music on a Bluetooth or someone presenting a danger to themselves and others. And we’re spending a lot of money to paper public places with “SEE SOMETHING SAY SOMETHING” posters.
I certainly do not have the answers, and I have yet to hear from anyone in or out of public office or in a position of authority come up with a way to stop a massacre before it happens. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. So in the moments of silence that will be offered today, perhaps we should collectively seek out ways to end the torture, stop the carnage, and hold back the tears.