In the school shooting in Florida that took place Wednesday, February 14, we lost 17 innocent lives to the pull of a trigger.
Seventeen innocent lives of which 14 were young kids. Kids who had their lives planned. Kids who had yet to see the world but now they no longer will. It marks the 18th shooting in the United States of 2018, only a month and two weeks in. And why did it happen? Because of the denial of the country’s severe lack of gun control and avoidance of passing gun control laws.
Why are we living in a world where a kids’ right to survive a day at school outweighs someone’s right to own any kind of gun?
The shooter was identified as a 19-year-old white male, Nikolas Cruz, who gunned down 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School within 10 minutes. The shooter legally purchased the firearm used in the shooting at a gun store in Coral Springs, Florida.
Now, step back and think. A young and troubled 19-year-old being legally able to a buy a gun? And on top of that, with open history of being violent as well.
The shooter’s former neighbor said Cruz pointed a BB gun at homes and did target practice in the neighborhood itself. And above all, our shooter had an Instagram account with posts that include photos of a rifle and a collection of firearms on a bed.
After Cruz confessed to police to being the gunman, his public defender described him as a “deeply disturbed, emotionally broken” young man.
“He is suffering from significant mental illness and significant trauma and he has some very difficult decisions to make shortly and we’re going to assist him with those decisions,” Gordon Weekes told CNN.
Does that sound like a bunch of things put together to be used to gain sympathy to you? Because it does to me.
But let’s look into Cruz further. His digital footprint not only offers disturbing glimpses into his mind but clearly shows us an image of what kind of a person he is.
According to CNN, “He hurled slurs at blacks and Muslims, and according to the Anti-Defamation League, had ties to white supremacists. He said he would shoot people with his AR-15 and singled out police and anti-fascist protesters as deserving of his vengeance.”
Why use mental health as a pathetic attempt to excuse such a terrible crime? Is it just so your power fetish for a machine that is only meant for killing goes unnoticed? Well, too late for that.
Mass shooters are not disproportionately “mentally ill.” Mental illnesses don’t only affect men, so why are all mass shooters with a “mental illness” male? Clearly, mental illness is not the issue here. Equating guns with masculinity, teaching men to be violent, and ignoring or overlooking that these shooters almost always have histories of violence towards women is the issue here.
Let’s be honest, why is focus being put on his mental health?
Here’s the truth; because he’s white. If he was a Muslim, there would be a cry for a travel ban. A Muslim ban. Islamophobia would once again flood everyone’s minds. If the murderer was Hispanic, everyone would want to build a wall. If the murderer was black, everyone would talk about the need for more cops and prisons and harsher punishments. But solely based on the fact that he’s white, everyone suddenly wants to consider mental health and send thoughts and prayers.
But is more laws against control the answer? You need to smash the estate if you want to put an end to the violence. Pushing for more laws will only result in more discrimination for without doubt, those laws will disproportionately be applied to people of color when the problem is white supremacy.
Having said that, it’s important you understand that I’m not saying we don’t need gun control, this is me saying that disarming civilians and doing nothing about disarming the police or taking steps towards ending police brutality will continue to harm people and communities of color.
Letting police and military continue to walk around with guns to establish a sense of public safety, when that “safety” comes with shooting black kids playing with toy guns or teenagers wearing hoodies who “look suspicious” (or don’t look white).
There’s active and intentional systems of oppression, and they cultivate a culture of violence against other people, mostly perpetrated by white men. Deconstruction of these systems and starting to actually make this type of violence unacceptable is how you make a real attempt at solving the issue.
It is no longer the time for thoughts and prayers, now is the time for policies and change.