Nikolaus Cruz, the 19-year-old shooter who is accused of killing 17 people during a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, legally owned his AR-15 assault rifle. He did not have a criminal record, so he easily cleared the background check. And though Nikolaus Cruz’ public defenders say that he suffers from mental illness, that didn’t prevent him from legally buying a gun.
Current Federal law allows people who are 18 and over to purchase guns, including many types of assault weapons. A 19-year-old is not allowed to buy a beer, but is permitted to buy an assault weapon. We can prevent kids like Nikolaus Cruz from legally loading up on alcohol, but we can’t prevent them from legally stocking up on weapons and ammunition.
Though the United States has only 5 percent of the world’s population, it ranks first in the number of firearms per capita. And according to the Swiss-based Small Arms Survey, the U.S. “has about 35-50 percent of the world’s civilian-owned guns.” The United States also wins the prize for having the highest rate of homicide by firearms among the most developed nations.
“This happens nowhere else other than the United States of America…The scourge of school shooting after school shooting,” Said Senator Chris Murphy, speaking on the Senate Floor following the attack by Nikolaus Cruz.
“It only happens here not because of coincidence, not because of bad luck, but as a consequence of our inaction. We are responsible for a level of mass atrocity that happens in this country with zero parallel anywhere else. As a parent, it scares me to death that this body doesn’t take seriously the safety of my children….”
According to the Council on Foreign Relations, “As of 2017, there were no federal laws banning semiautomatic assault weapons, military-style .50 caliber rifles, handguns, or large-capacity magazines. There was a federal prohibition on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines between 1994 and 2004, but Congress allowed these restrictions to expire.”
This is the 18th shooting on a school property since the beginning of 2018. Eight of these shootings resulted in death or injuries. Clearly, the current Federal gun policies have failed our schools – and all of us. Will Congress finally recognize that they need to address current gun laws?
Probably not, as we consider that more than a few GOP senators have accepted substantial funds from the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other gun rights groups. According to the New York Daily News, for example, Senator Marco Rubio has received $3,303,355 from the NRA and other gun rights groups over the course of his political career. Senator Rob Portman has received $3,061,941 from the NRA during his political career.
Gun control doesn’t mean “taking away all guns.” It means enacting measures that more effectively keep firearms out of the hands of people like Nikolaus Cruz – those who are most likely to use them to kill or hurt themselves or others. But why does any private citizen need to be able to purchase an AR-15 assault rifle? And why is a kid like Niklaus Cruz, who isn’t old enough to legally buy a beer, old enough to legally buy a semiautomatic weapon?
Top U.S. and World Headlines | Democracy Now! [2018-02-15]
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