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Ignored Red Flags

Mourning Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

On Wednesday Feb. 14, 2018, tragedy struck Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Former student Nikolas Cruz opened fire on students at 2:21 p.m., according to Fox news. The gunman shot and killed 17 victims and injured 14 others.

As the community mourns the loss of loved ones, Chief Public Defender Howard Finkelstein stated, “Every red flag was there, and nobody did anything.” According to The Florida Department of Children and Families, Cruz has multiple mental disabilities, including ADHD, depression and autism. Cruz made racist remarks and admitted that he wanted to buy a gun to his counselor in 2016. He later bought the AR-15 in February of 2017, according to NY Times.

Ignored red flags

Multiple warnings were sent to police and the FBI. While Cruz attended the Florida school, he was involved in fights, suspended for carrying bullets in his backpack and was not allowed on campus with a backpack, according to The Washington Post. Many former classmates refer to Cruz as “weird,” according to The Washington Post. Former middle school classmate, Dakota Mutchler, said Cruz “started progressively getting a little more weird.” He was selling knives out of his lunchbox, posting on Instagram about guns and killing animals and threatened one of his friends, according to The Washington Post. A former neighbor of Cruz’s said she contacted police after hearing that “he looked forward to buying a gun when he turned 18 so he could shoot up his school.”

Stricter gun laws

This shooting is one of the deadliest school shootings, according to CNN. The tragedy has sparked many protests, walkouts and riots for a change in gun laws. Students across the U.S. are wanting stricter gun laws, making it to where guns will not be in the hands of mentally-unstable individuals. According to CBS News, lawmakers can start treating assault-style rifles more like handguns, meaning raising the age limit for purchasing to 21, creating a waiting period and making it more difficult for those with mental illnesses to purchase the gun.

How to help

During this time, there are ways for those from out of state can donate to victims of the shooting. GoFundMe has many funds set up for those affected. The Broward Sheriff Department tweeted a link to a real GoFundMe campaign and noted, “there have been several fraudulent @gofundme accounts.”

Parents of Sandy Hook victims reach out and push “red-flag” programs. Groups of Sandy Hook families are wanting to change the reaction to “red-flags” that indicate students at risk. The Sandy Hook Promise has begun to reach out to Florida families. Mark Barden, a member of the Sandy Hook Promise, who lost his son in the Sandy Hook shooting, said, “We know, all too well, that this is preventable, that there were warning signs, plenty of warning signs.” There is currently a bill waiting to be viewed by congress called The STOP School Violence Act of 2018. Congress.gov stated, “this bill amends the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to revise and reauthorize through FY2028 the Secure Our Schools grant program,” which will aim to increase the awareness the process of purchasing a firearm.

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