Six months later, Puerto Ricans remain without homes, electricity, and many questions on how they will move on following the destruction of Hurricane Maria. In the early aftermath of Hurricane Maria, most Puerto Ricans were left without clean water, electricity and homes to live in. Reminiscent of Hurricane Sandy, lines for gasoline were very long, […]
December 14, 2017, marked the five-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and since then, mass shootings have been a nightmare in the U.S.
The deadliest of the recent mass shootings is the Las Vegas shooting carried out by Ste-phen Paddock, 64, that cost the lives of 58 people and injured nearly 500 as Paddock unleashed a barrage of bullets from his hotel window onto unsuspecting concert-goers.
Only a month later another shooting happened, this time in a small church in rural Texas. Devin Patrick Kelly, 26, dressed in all black with a ballistic vest and military style rifle in hand, opened fire and gunned down parishioners, killing 26 people. Even now in 2018, gun violence is still prominent across the country.
According to Gun Violence Archive – a website that keeps track of gun violence in the U.S – there have been a total of 41 mass shootings in 2018 alone. A mass shooting involves four or more individuals being injured or killed because of a firearm in the same location and time. Of the 17 school shootings in 2018, four fit the description of a mass shooting.
On January 23, 2018 there was a school shooting in a Kentucky High School in which 18 were injured and two students were killed. The suspect in custody is 15 years old. On February 14, 2018, a school shooting in Parkland, Florida left 17 students and faculty dead and 15 injured. The suspect in this incident, Nikolas Cruz, is only 19 years old. Such attacks are reminiscent of the Columbine High School shooting and the Virginia Tech shooting. “Just watching the Snapchats of the whole Florida shootings made me cry. It’s so terrifying especially for them” said Cindy Her-nandez, a student at LaGuardia who had a personal ordeal with firearms.
Ms. Hernandez has experienced a personal incident with firearms when she was held at gunpoint in New Orleans. Ms. Hernandez was near Loyola University’s campus visiting a friend when she was approached by a man in a ski mask who pointed a gun in her face and demanded that she give over her possessions. The incident left her concerned for her life even after it was all over. “At first they actually thought it hadn’t affected me that much, but now I know it has because I’m really paranoid when something happens” Ms. Hernandez said. After this incident she came back to her family in New York where she took a year off before enrolling at LaGuardia to recu-perate from the armed assault.
Students at LaGuardia still remember the mass shootings that have happened in the past five years; the ones that stick out the most are the Sandy Hook shooting, the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Florida, Las Vegas concert shooting, and the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida which is the most recent one. Raquel Jimenez a student at LaGuardia has con-cerns as to how and why the individuals who carried out the attacks had access to firearms. “It shouldn’t be accessible to anyone, why do you need a gun?” said Ms. Jimenez. Oswaldo Barona another student who comes from Colombia, mentioned that he has never been in a country where mass shootings were a frequent occurrence. “The politicians do nothing, neither does the Presi-dent” said Mr. Barona.
Survivors of the Florida school shooting were invited to a town hall in Sunrise, Florida where they confronted Senator Marco Rubio and National Rifle Association (NRA) spokeswoman Dana Loesch. At the town hall Sen. Marco Rubio was asked by Cameron Kasey, a student who survived the school shooting, if Senator Rubio would continue to accept donations from the NRA. Senator Rubio did not give a direct response to the question and but did say “I will always accept the help of anyone who agrees with my agenda.”.
Professor Nichole Shippen, who has a Ph.D. in Political Science, believes special interest groups such as the NRA have a massive influence on American politics. “It is going to privilege their special interests above the common good, even if it doesn’t go with the common good of the country.” said Dr. Shippen. In 2017 the NRA spent $5,122,000 in lobbying expenditures, a $1.9 million jump from last year and the highest the organization has spent on lobbying.
While New York State has some of the strictest gun laws other states tend to be laxer on such laws enable easier access to guns. Stephen Paddock purchased 33 guns in various states such as California, Texas, Nevada, and Utah. There is no federal limit on the number of firearms or am-munition an individual is allowed to purchase, and there is no national data base that can track or keeps records of firearm purchases.
Tom King, President of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, believes many citizens are simply misinformed by the media about the process one goes through when buying a firearm. “What they should be concerned with more is that politicians in the cities do not enforce the gun laws” explains Mr. King. Some states, such as Vermont, have constitutional carry. This allows citizens to buy a firearm and carry it concealed without a permit. Mr. King argues that alt-hough such laws exist in eleven states, there are still extensive background checks one must go through before purchasing a firearm.
In his address to the country about the tragedy in Florida, President Trump did not make any comments on gun control. Dr. Shippen believes the problem may be rooted more deeply than simple gun laws and mental health. She explains “It’s part of American culture, so that’s deeper; it’s harder to get rid of. You can change laws and you can force people to do the right thing, but it takes longer to change that sort of culture”.