The 360 is a feature designed to show you diverse perspectives on the day’s top stories.
What: On Feb. 14, 2018, a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., opened fire with an AR-15 rifle, killing 17 people, including classmates and teachers. The massacre stirred a national outcry and students at the high school helped galvanize a nationwide movement that demanded stricter gun laws. Gun rights advocates, including the National Rifle Association, have pushed back against new legislation.
When: In a Wednesday speech to law enforcement officials, President Trump noted that Thursday marks “the one-year anniversary of the horrific Parkland shooting.” The president boasted that in response to the tragedy, his administration enacted the “Fix NICS Act,” which requires federal agencies to enter criminal convictions into the national background check database, and the “Stop School Violence Act,” which allows schools to use existing safety funding for equipment like metal detectors.
Trump also touted the “nearly 100” recommendations made by his school safety commission, but critics have blasted the president and the committee for refusing to issue new gun control measures. The Parkland students who organized the March for Our Lives protest movement continue to demand that new federal gun laws be passed to make the country safer.
Why: In all, 123 new gun laws have been passed across the country in the year following the Parkland massacre, the Tampa Bay Times reported. Although most put additional restrictions on who can own firearms and on outlawing bump stock conversion kits that enable weapons to have machine-gun firing capability, some of the measures expanded the areas where individuals can lawfully bring firearms.
While Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School plans to commemorate the anniversary of the shooting with a nonacademic day, survivor-turned-activist David Hogg plans to continue the fight for new federal gun laws. “This issue is beyond Parkland,” Hogg told NPR. “This issue is about America and the war that we have on our streets, because it’s time for us not to fight each other but to truly fight gun violence.”
What’s next: A bipartisan bill citing the Parkland shooting was introduced in Congress this week that seeks to make background checks mandatory for all firearm purchases in the United States. It is the first such legislation to be debated in the House since 2013, when an identical bill was introduced following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that killed 20 students and six adults.
The Parkland kids are getting incremental results where others failed.
“In some ways, the Parkland shootings have had more of a direct impact than past mass shootings. After the mass murder of school children in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, there was modest legislation at the national level on guns but considerable political realignment. … Parkland, on the other hand, did result in 69 different gun control laws passing state legislatures, including 18 in Republican-controlled states.” — Glenn Garvin, Miami Herald
“The N.R.A. remains a political powerhouse, an increasingly conservative Republican Party still controls the White House and the Senate, and guns remain a centerpiece of the culture war. But with a topic this polarizing, small steps deserve to be applauded — and encouraged. When lawmakers held a hearing on the background-check bill last week, it was the first hearing in eight years to broach the subject of gun violence. With a little luck and some political spine, more such actions will follow. The victims and survivors of Parkland, and of the 339 other mass shootings in 2018 alone, deserve more than pious sentiment and political cowardice.” — New York Times editorial board
“Parkland students have quickly become some of the country’s most effective opponents of gun violence. … The teens are organized, well-researched and poised. They’ve weathered social media abuse with maturity because they’ve been dealing with it their entire lives. …While the Parkland teens’ tremendous efforts influenced changes at the state level and got pro-gun-control candidates elected to Congress, they’ve been met mostly with dysfunction at the federal level.” — Colby Itkowitz, Washington Post
The gun debate is as divisive as ever.
“This is a debate where the two sides barely regard one another as decent human beings. The gun-control people see their opponents as people who don’t care about human life, and the gun-rights people see their opponents as people who don’t care about human freedom.” — Tom Palmer, a gun-rights-supporting political scientist and vice president of the free-market think tank Atlas Network, quoted in the Miami Herald
“There are two gun cultures in America now, not just one. The first is a celebration of weapons and of the freedom weapons promise, a culture of resistance to government, of revolutionary individualism, a culture as old as the country itself, and the other, much newer, a perpetual caravan of mourning for senseless death. These cultures coexist but do not coincide. The political divisions in Washington, as vicious and irreconcilable as they may be, are not accidents of process. They are only signs of the far more profound divisions that lie beneath.” — Stephen Marche, The Guardian
Parkland kids are changing the conversation in using the gun debate as a wedge issue.
“When Parkland was attacked last Valentine’s Day, supporting gun safety was considered politically toxic. Suddenly, for the first time in a generation, it is starting to grow politically toxic to oppose it.” — Dave Cullen, The Guardian
“If the sole bar is ‘passing Congressional gun control laws,’ then it looks like the March for Our Lives has not done much to disrupt the status quo of America’s broken gun debate. But the attempt to measure the Parkland students’ impact in terms of bills passed or not passed may miss the broader point. March for Our Lives has a more ambitious outlook than just policy. They are mirroring what the NRA and the Republican Party have done so well for decades: using the gun debate as a wedge issue, and aiming to take and hold power for a generation.” — Lois Beckett, The Guardian
Guns will always be a part of American culture.
“Only in America is the gun a totem, a sacred political object beyond the realm of argument. The gun laws of every other country provide a balance between public safety and the rights of people to own weapons. … In all these other countries, some people think the rules are too strict, others think that the rules are too lenient, but the general idea that guns should be regulated is not disputed. Every other machine is regulated, so why not guns?” — Stephen Marche, The Guardian
But the influence of the NRA is waning.
“Politically, financially and legally, the gun-rights cause and, more specifically, the lobbying juggernaut that is the National Rifle Association have not fared well in the Trump era. If this trend continues — or accelerates — it could wind up being a rare silver lining to Mr. Trump’s presidency. … Last year, for the first time in nearly two decades, polling indicated that more Americans held a negative view than a positive view of the NRA. There has also been an upswing in support for stricter gun laws.” — New York Times editorial board
The Parkland shooting galvanized a future voting bloc.
“A year ago, students called for change. … A year later, we are watching. We are organizing. And we will be voting.” — Ella Kuhnhenn, high school junior, Tennessean
“After the hundreds of shootings following Parkland, it is apparent that the laws we have now are simply not enough. … But it doesn’t have to be like this. If we all take action through government or assembly, changes are possible. It’s much more effective than thoughts and prayers.” — Shorthorn editorial
Parkland students speak out, one year later.
“We have to realize that gun violence affects every part of America. You know, only focusing on Parkland is not going to solve gun violence. Focusing on every zip code is what has to solve gun violence, right? … But the reason we do this and the reason we continue to go out and speak is so that there are no other people, so that nobody else has to live through the pain that April has had to live through in the first place.” — David Hogg, NPR
“The people I know now are going to be the people who are senators and house members one day. It’s cool to know that so many young people are determined. Our generation is not the slackers we were once thought to be. We’re motivated and we’re hungry for change.”— Jaclyn Corin, People
“I wanted people to think of Parkland not as a city of people who cowered in the face of great tragedy, but as a city that took the worst-case scenario and stood up even taller to say that we are stronger than that.” — Cameron Kasky, Marie Claire