Don’t even bother to say something ridiculous like, “It’s not supposed to happen here … “
No, it’s not supposed to happen anywhere, but it does, with sickening frequency.
And on a horrible Wednesday — Valentine’s Day — it happened in South Florida. There was yet another mass school shooting — the state’s first since Columbine — this time, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County.
The shooter has been identified as Nikolas Cruz, 19, who is in custody. Cruz is a former student at the school kicked out for disciplinary reasons. He obviously held a festering grudge. He came back to take revenge on Wednesday. He somehow gained entry, armed with a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle and an abundant supply of magazines.
This is the nation’s fourth-worst school shooting — ironically at a school whose name pays tribute to a woman who made us pay attention to the beauty of the Florida Everglades. The seventh school shooting in the United States — this year. Surprised? That’s because these tragedies have become so commonplace that they are not headline news anymore.
This one made the headlines. The carnage: at least 17 dead, more than 20 wounded. Broward’s deadliest mass shooting in history and the second in just more than a year since the five passengers were killed at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
Those are just the cold stats. The extent of the human suffering will bring some to their knees. The promising young lives snuffed out in a day at school, of all places. Teachers killed trying to protect students. Parents, grandparents, siblings, friends have had their lives changed forever. Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi flew to Broward Wednesday night to console those affected.
The state will pay for all the victims’ funerals, but who knows if, in the future, lawmakers with a brain will have to beat back misbegotten efforts to allow guns on, say, college campuses? We’ve already been there. There’s no guarantee we won’t be there again.
Questions abound. But there won’t be easy answers. Is there a gun law that could have prevented this tragedy? Could we have kept that AR-15 out of the hands of a troubled 19-year-old? Could a mental-health program eased his anger? Shouldn’t kids who saw the shooter’s frightening, weapon-worshipping Instagram account said something?
Sen. Marco Rubio, called the suspect “an animal.” Of course, he hasn’t voted for any gun-control legislation since the killings at Sandy Hook in Connecticut.
So it’s equally ridiculous to ask: When will this nation get serious about gun control? If 20 schoolchildren shot dead in 2012 didn’t move Congressional lawmakers to push through some sort of common sense on gun ownership, it’s unlikely that the Parkland massacre will move them beyond thoughts and prayers, either.
Predictably, there will be outrage as we find out how easily the suspect got his hands on a rifle; local, state and federal lawmakers will either blame, or not blame, our gun culture; others will say guns had nothing to do with it, it’s a mental health issue. If — big if — legislation results, it will die, thanks to the sway, and deep pockets, of the National Rifle Association. Mass shootings in New Hope, San Diego, Orlando and Las Vegas has netted zero gun laws.
Then there’s this question: How long will our leaders, after offering up thoughts and prayers, continue to say, with their inaction, “Oh well?”