Today, February 14, 2020, marks two years since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 17 people lost their lives. While people around the world celebrate Valentine’s Day, many schools in South Florida are holding a day of community bonding and service to pay respects to the victims and foster awareness of gun violence in their communities.
As members of the Andover community, it can be easy to feel detached from issues of gun violence, as the overwhelming majority of school shootings occur at public schools in states with relatively slack gun laws. According to the 2019 State of the Academy, over 60% of Andover students identify themselves as being from the American Northeast, which on average has much stricter gun laws than the rest of the country. Not being aware of this issue is a privilege not afforded to the communities where gun violence is a constant threat. In the twelve months following Parkland, 1,200 people died as a result of gun violence. In 2020 alone, 45 people have been killed in mass shootings across America, while there were 419 mass shootings in 2019.
The Phillipian, vol CXLII, first responded to the Parkland shooting in an editorial published on February 23, 2019. The editorial pointed out how effective legislative change was made and passed immediately following the Parkland shooting, but much of the conversation on gun reform has died down since 2018. No federal gun-related legislation has been on the table since 2018, and many people affected by the Parkland shooting still face pushback for their efforts to bring awareness to the topic of gun control. Nine days ago at the State of the Union Address, the father of a student killed in the Parkland shooting was removed from the Capitol building for causing a disruption after trying to promote the passage of stricter gun laws. Again and again, conversations about gun violence are shut down while people feel the real-life consequences of governmental inaction.
On Wednesday, Andover held a school-wide active shooter drill. Too many students were left unfazed—we’ve become too numb to the threat of gun violence at our schools and in our communities, despite many of us never having been directly exposed to it.
Although the Parkland shooting happened two years ago, gun violence remains an epidemic in the United States. While we can promise to always remember what happened, inaction on this issue will not prevent more Parklands from happening. Communities affected by the shooting continue to heal from the trauma of what happened, and although the Never Again movement is relatively smaller than what it was two years ago, it continues to advocate for change. We hope the Andover community continues to do what it can to support gun reform and protections against gun violence. If you pick up the paper before 5 PM on Friday, we’re asking you to attend the vigil on the steps of Samuel Phillips Hall for the victims of the Parkland shooting. Be active in the fight against gun violence.