Around the globe, students, teachers, parents and other concerned citizens marched in over 800 cities in support of tougher gun restrictions and enhanced school safety measures. Organizers stated that marches were held on every continent except Antarctica. After last month’s shooting in a Parkland, Florida High School, people across the nation and around the world have taken to the streets to bring increased awareness to school violence and mass shootings. The Parkland massacre took the lives of seventeen innocent students and staff members.
Schools all over the United States, including many in New York, have held organized “walk-outs” during school hours. Yesterday’s main march, or protest, was held in Washington D.C. Many survivors and relatives of the victims of the Parkland massacre and other school shooting incidents were in attendance at the D.C. march, and some of them gave speeches. Of course, for many, this is a gun control issue. For others, it is about remembering those lost, and learning from these situations.
According to some news stories, Hunter Pollack, the elder brother of one of the Parkland victims, said in a video that “the organizers don’t care about the victims’ families” and that he was blocked from speaking because the organizers have a different agenda. In some locations, like Boston and Salt Lake City, the protests were allegedly about gun control and nothing else, which brought out some pro-2nd amendment supporters, or counter-protestors.
In what may come as a bit of a surprise, a poll conducted by ABC News and the Washington Post showed that while 58% of the respondents said stricter gun laws could have prevented the shooting, an even larger number portion, 77%, said better mental health monitoring and treatment would have averted it.
President Trump seems to support better school security, including armed guards (and perhaps armed teachers) while saying that mental health issues are often the main reason for school shootings. The majority of NRA members have consistently supported universal background checks to keep guns out of the hands of known criminals and the mentally ill.
The laws may change, but it will not happen overnight. In the meantime, it is up to school staff members to keep their eyes and ears open. The New York State Education Department enacted the SAVE Act, or Safe Schools Against Violence in Education, to raise awareness of school violence issues and requires a 2 hour workshop for all teachers, assistant teachers and administrators who wish to obtain certification in New York. The workshop provides detailed information on the warning signs that often precede violent episodes, and covers other important related topics such as gang activity, suicide and bullying.