On the Parkland School Shooting

[Content Note: Guns; death; injury; domestic violence.]

Yesterday in Parkland, Florida, a 19-year-old named Nikolas Cruz went to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, from which he had been expelled, and began shooting with a semiautomatic rifle. He killed 17 people and wounded 14 others, 5 of them seriously.

Cruz escaped the scene by disappearing into the crowd of fleeing students, but was later arrested and charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

At this point, the names of those killed and wounded have not been made public. My sympathies to the families, friends, classmates and/or colleagues, and community of those lost. I am so sorry. I hope those who are injured or traumatized or both have access to the resources they need to begin healing. ETA. Here are the victims of the Parkland shooting.

I am so profoundly sad and so profoundly angry.

Details about Cruz are still thin, but the picture that begins to emerge is one of a troubled kid who became a dangerous adult; whose mother, who recently died, was overwhelmed and had very little structural support, because we have collectively decided that supporting parents isn't an investment our culture should be making; whose apparent threat to become "a professional school shooter" was investigated by authorities to seemingly no consequence; and who, like virtually every other mass shooter before him, has a history of domestic violence: "Student Victoria Olvera, 17, said Cruz had been abusive to his ex-girlfriend and that his expulsion was over a fight with her new boyfriend."

There were lots of flags. Cruz had reportedly been "getting treatment at a mental health clinic for a while, but hadn't been there for more than a year."

Which underscores a point I've made repeatedly, in response to the ubiquitous urge to greet every mass shooting with the same tired talking points about mental illness: Not all mass shooters can be helped by psychiatric care, even if they have access to it. This is The Thing we don't want to talk about at all — that there are dangerous people who can't be "fixed" by all the mental healthcare in the world.

And if Cruz could have been helped, it clearly wasn't possible, for whatever constellation of reasons, to keep him in treatment.

The only practical and reasonable solution is reducing access to guns. And yet that is the one solution the governing party of this country refuses to try. They won't even brook discussion of it, despite the fact that yesterday's massacre was the 18th school shooting in the United States in the first 44 days of 2018, and despite the fact that three of the deadliest mass shootings in modern American history have occured in just the last five months.

Things are only getting worse, not better. And the best solutions that the Republican Party has to offer are: 1. More guns! 2. Continue to treat mass shootings like a force of nature for which we all must just do our best to prepare, like tornadoes or earthquakes.

Well, here's how that's working out: More guns is clearly resulting in more violence, and obliging schools to respond to school shootings by instituting safety drills may be saving lives, or:

That is not the fault of school administrators, who have no other choice but to prepare their students for mass shootings just like they prepare them for fires or natural disasters.

It's the fault of the governing party and the pro-gun organization to which they're beholden and their gun-loving base, who have unilaterally decided, because they are selfish and fearful and cruel, that it's fine to abandon all reason and decency, and to renege on our social contract to protect schoolchildren and their teachers.

Nearly 500 people have been killed in more than 200 school shootings since Sandy Hook. Anyone who is okay with that, anyone who continues to insist despite all evidence to the contrary that reducing access to guns isn't the answer, is abetting the next shooter. And the next. And every single one thereafter until they finally agree that protecting gun ownership isn't as important as protecting human lives.

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