Parkland students have a right to be angry

Published 10:30 am Monday, February 26, 2018

It has been 12 days since the horrific events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and 12 days since high school students in Parkland and across the country have banded together to spark discussion about how to prevent more senseless violence.

Whether you agree with the message these students are sending or not, the things they have accomplished are impressive. In two weeks, a group of teenagers – people who aren’t even old enough to vote – have sparked actual change.

They’ve spoken directly to lawmakers, pressured President Trump to call for a ban on bump stocks, inspired several large corporations to cut ties with the NRA, inspired school walk-outs and raised millions of dollars for the “March for Our Lives” in Washington, D.C. on March 24.

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These students have a right to be angry. Every line of defense they had, failed. The people who swore to protect them, failed them. Police officers outside the school stayed outside while children were losing their lives. Over the last seven years, deputies were called to the shooter’s house 39 times. He literally posted a comment on a YouTube video saying, “I’m going to be a professional school shooter,” which was reported to the FBI. He posted images of himself on social media with guns and knives, all of which were purchased legally and kept in a safe in his bedroom. He’d been expelled from the school, and the list goes on.

All of that begs the question, what went wrong? When do we reach the threshold where we decide a threat is credible and not just a bluff?

It’s clear that the shooter, whose name I’m not putting in print any more than necessary, was failed, too. I firmly believe it takes a monster to perpetrate such a crime. However, there had to have been some point during the multitude of police calls and disciplinary actions at school, not to mention the death of both his adoptive parents, when the appropriate action could have been taken to keep a disturbed child from becoming a 19-year-old mass murderer. It’s clear that he was a danger to himself and others, so where along the line did the system fail him?

I’m no political expert. I try, especially in my profession, to hear both sides of an issue and report both of them equally, not letting my own opinions permeate the facts. And I’m not sure what the right solution to fix this problem might be. Schools are the one place children should feel safe, not worry about where they would hide in an active shooter situation, or worse, suspect their fellow classmates. Something has to change, and soon.

Anna Gibbs is a reporter at The Oxford Eagle. You can reach her at