Parkland School Shooting Essay


Parkland, Florida Shooting – Rampant Gun Violence in the Nation’s Schools

What started as a normal day for the teachers and students at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018, soon transformed into a scene of grisly mass murders and injuries perpetrated by 19-year-old high school student Nikolas Cruz. Unfortunately, this national tragedy was just another in a seemingly unending series of similar massacres of students and teachers in the nation’s schools in recent years and it galvanized the American public attention to the need for stricter gun control laws. Indeed, even as this paper was being written, two more students were shot to death at Central Michigan University by another 19-year-old, James Eric Davis Jr. who remains at large (Chicago-area teen suspected of fatally shooting two people at Central Michigan University, 2018). To determine the facts about the Parkland shootings, this paper reviews the relevant literature to provide a description of the horrific events that occurred at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, a description of the confessed shooter, the failure by FBI to investigate, the failure of deputies to enter the building, what types of gun was used, and how Americans can prevent atrocities like this from recurring in the future. Finally, a summary of the research and key findings concerning the Parkland shootings and their implications for the future of American gun ownership are presented in the conclusion.

Review and Discussion

The Parkland, Florida high school shootings resulted in 17 deaths (14 students and three teachers) and a country reeling from yet another massacre in the nation’s schools (Murphy Cautious after Parkland Shooting, 2018). This tragic incident was all the more noteworthy given the numerous warning flags exhibited by Cruz that should have been identified by educators and law enforcement authorities for an entire decade. Indeed, according to the editors of one newspaper, “The 19-year-old was the subject of dozens of 911 calls and at least two separate tips to the FBI. He also came to the attention of the Florida Department of Children and Families” (Murphy Cautious after Parkland Shooting, 2018, p. A4). Notwithstanding these dozens of warning signs, the buck was consistently passed by social workers, teachers and law enforcement authorities and the Valentine’s Day shootings at Parkland occurred as a result. In reality, though, the handwriting was on the wall for all to see. In fact, by all accounts Cruz was suffering from the effects of his adoptive mother’s recent death, the financial problems the family had been experiencing and interpersonal problems with peers and adults to the point where he was in a veritable crisis situation by the morning of the shootings. 

The crisis situation began in 2008 when Roger and Lynda Cruz adopted...

Following Roger’s death in 1996, Lynda was left to her own devices in raising her two adopted sons and the trouble with Nikolas began shortly thereafter. For instance, according to one news report, “When Cruz was 10 years old, his mother called the police to the house. That call was the first of dozens of times over the next decade she would summon law enforcement for help keeping her sons under control” (Murphy Cautious after Parkland Shooting, 2018, p. A4). Moreover, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) admitted that it dropped the ball in the Cruz investigation despite clear indications that this young man was planning on committing mass murders (Jarrell, 2018).
While it is easy enough to assign blame for the mass shootings that occurred on February 14, 2018 to the community-based resources including social workers, law enforcement officials including the FBI who were supposed to prevent such occurrences, many young American males exhibit oppositional defiant behaviors that are regarded as being a normal part of the maturation process (Apsche & Bass, 2009) and the dozens of 911 calls from Cruz’s mother were simply disregarded as a result. 

Compounding the tragedy was the lackluster and ineffectual responses by law enforcement authorities to the situation that occurred at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. For example, according to Greene (2018), “The school resource officer on duty when a gunman killed 17 people at a Florida school found a safe spot outside the building — and did absolutely nothing” (para. 1). Besides investigating the responses by other Broward County sheriff deputies for their failure to intervene, Floridian lawmakers are demanding the suspension of the Broward County Sheriff, Scott Israel, for what they regard as “incompetence and neglect of duty" following revelations that the sheriff’s office, like the FBI, simply ignored or underestimated the significance of the dozens of warnings signs that should have been readily discerned and acted upon (Quinn, 2018).

When he entered his high school, Cruz was armed with an assault rifle, an AR-15 (see Figure 1 below), available nationwide for under $800 which is essentially a knockoff of the M16 that was a staple weapon during the Vietnam War (Nehamas & Smiley, 2018). 

AR-15 gun used in Parkland Shooting

Figure 1. Representative AR-15 assault rifle similar to the one used by Cruz


Indeed, the AR-15 assault rifle is a deadly weapon and authorities report that the death toll might have been far higher if Cruz’s weapon had not jammed or…

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