Essay on February 2018 Mass Shooting in a Florida High School
Nikolas Jacob Cruz was adopted at birth. He was a member of the JROTC and has received awards for excellence in academics and other extracurricular. He was a member of the rifle team, and after a brief period spent at a school for children with emotional disabilities, he returned to his old high school at Stoneman Douglas. Cruz was identified with autism, ADHD and depression and though he received earlier therapies it later was stopped. The BSO received more than 20 calls from Cruz, over the last 10 years which includes tips and threats about him shooting up schools and institutions. 2 days prior to the shooting, FBIs PAL (Public Access Line) received an anonymous call who tipped about the probable shooting and identified Cruz’s ownership of gun, his desire to kill, disturbing posts on social media, erratic behaviours etc (Almukhtar, Lai, Singhvi, & Yourish, 2018).
The suspected shooter Cruz apparently took an Uber ride and reached MSD High School at approximately 2.19 pm. He entered the freshman building, an impressive three story structure consisting of 30 classrooms and containing more than 900 students and 30 teachers. Cruz was armed with an AR – 15 semi automatic rifles and was loaded with magazines. He activated a random fire alarm and began shooting the students and the teachers. This fire alarm created a degree of confusion as a fire drill had been taken place earlier that day resulted in confusion. The 19 year old had legally purchased the rifle a year back, and after 6 minutes of random firing, the suspect dropped the rifle on the ground, and left the premises (Laughland, Luscombe, & Yuhas, 2018).
Grief counselling was provided for the survivors and their families and the costs and treatment and funerals were to be covered by the state authorities. However, the aftermath of such shooting was mixed. Whereas, student leaders and volunteers started voicing their active opinion and demanding stricter gun control laws and regulations, the conspiracy theories post mass shooting started following up, and this Florida shooting was no exception (King, 2018). The conspiracy theories developed from the dark portions of the internet and moved to social media pages like Facebook, Youtube and Twitter from nationalist blogs, the far right proponents, conservative pages etc. Less than an hour post the shooting, the Twitter accounts were filled with comments that the survivors and eyewitnesses were “crisis actors” and merely were paid to play the role of victims in such disaster drills. Fake accounts were created, and tweets spread the internet claiming that “David Hogg”, a fellow student and a strong advocate for stricter gun policies after the shooting, was in reality an actor who had graduated in 2015 from a different high school. The fake account on Classmates.com claiming such had been deleted since, but prior to that had been shared and liked a few thousands of times (Murphy & Mezzofiore, 2018). In the real world, when the victims’ funerals continue, the virtual world is smeared with pollution from lies and relentless attacks. This pollution from misinformation came from trolls and extremist bloggers, and are actively used to scare the general public and create disharmony and an environment of distrust and confusion. This specifically relates to the societal trends of rising distrust of the media and the other institutions further inflamed by the politicians and others. These trends can be even more witnessed amongst the conservatives in the United States (Melonic, 2018).
Hence two specific sociological trends can be seen arising from such a case – firs, the abundance of mass shooting incidents occurring in the United States, and the tornado of conspiracy theories and extremist ideologies which are making their appearances post such a tragic event (Fox & DeLateur, 2014).
1966 to 2012 witnessed that more than 30% of the global mass shootings occurred in United States alone, and as per a study in 2016, 90% of the 292 incidents of mass shootings, where more than 4 individuals have been killed has occurred in United States. Hence, as per a report by CNN, where United States only has 5% of the total world’s population, it has 31% occurrence of all the global mass shootings (CNN, 2018). Hence, it can be inferred that the problem lies with United States and especially the gun related regulations and policies. However, the opinion about such gun control is extremely divided amongst US citizens. Polls shown over time, since the mid 1990s, that Americans have been divided exactly down the middle when it comes to supporting or opposing the measures on gun control or any other banning of assault weapons. The reason of such can be attributed to people’s belief on politics and the society. Individuals, who felt that morals were declining in the society and that the nation is running on the wrong track, curiously advocated gun policies being less strict and were also more likely to oppose banning of any semi-automatic weapon (Ferguson, 2015). Gun ownership actually holds a symbolic value for Americans who equate such with self determination and liberty, and hence from this perspective gun control impinges upon the fundamental values. As per a study by Wozniak, it was found that Republicans as well as Independents stressed on keeping the gun laws as they are (Wozniak, 2017).
The politics and societal debates about gun control continue to grip America and till now public opinion is extremely divided. However, as an aftermath of repeated mass shootings Americans are now finding voices to support more stringent background checks and stricter policies. Creating confusion in this is the arrival of conspiracy theories, and public lies and the role social media plays in spreading rumours and further lies. The future seems grim, but only, the societal along with the political support can bring about an effective change in the system and American citizens should find their unanimous voice and lead the change, without which such tragedies will keep on occurring and no preventive measure can be practiced and controlled.
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