By McKenna Seegmiller
The recent school shooting at Oxford High School highlights staggering problems in America – problems that have not been solved even after the deadliest shootings that have ripped our nation’s children from their parents.
On Tuesday, November 30, 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley entered Oxford High School with a semi-automatic pistol bought by his father and began shooting. He shot and killed three students and injured a teacher and seven students, one of which passed the next day.
America has become desensitized to the news, saddened but not surprised by yet another school shooting. This event, however, further proves two things about our country: not only are our gun laws inadequate, but red flags are being ignored by authority figures and those around them.
James Crumbley, father of Ethan Crumbley, purchased the semi-automatic pistol four days before the shooting, and media evidence shows that he purchased it with the intention to pass it onto his underage son. This is considered an illegal transfer. Despite the evidence, James Crumbley claims he bought it for himself, and unfortunately there is no law in the state of Michigan in which you are legally required to store weapons in a safe manner.
This presents a grave critique on the adequacy of our current gun laws in America if it is that easy for weapons to fall into the hands of those who are not fit to own a gun responsibly, which can also be seen in the Virginia Tech shooting of 2007 done by Cho Seung-Hui. Two years before the shooting, a Montgomery County judge considered Cho a “danger to himself and to others” after a detention order for stalking two female classmates and exhibiting suicidal tendencies. Despite all this, Cho cleared background checks and was permitted to buy two semi-automatic pistols which he then used to kill 32 people and injure 17 others.
In addition, any signs pointing to a potential threat to the general safety of the student body were ignored or not taken seriously, which has become increasingly evident in recent years.
According to Fox 2 Detroit, a teacher saw Crumbley searching for ammunition on his phone the day prior to the devastation at Oxford High School, and the teacher alerted school officials. After a failed attempt at contacting his parents, school officials dropped it. The morning of the shooting, another teacher found a graphic drawing by Crumbley implying that he was battling violent tendencies, but nothing was done until it was too late. Once again, this is not an isolated instance and shows inadequacies in preventing these tragedies
Another instance of this can be seen at the horrific Columbine shooting. Many know Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold as the two who murdered 15 people and injured 21 others at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. A lesser-known fact is that they were part of what is known as the “Trenchcoat Mafia.” Based on reports from other students at Columbine, students within this group were known to wear swastikas and had a website with a detailed hit list filled with people at their school.
In an interview with PBS, one Columbine parent admits to filing a report to the police after finding the website and seeing a death threat sent to his son. However, the police did not follow through with an investigation.
The FBI is also guilty of a failure to prevent massacres along with local police, which can be seen in the Parkland shooting. A month before Nikolas Cruz entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, killed 17 people and injured 17 others, the FBI received a tip from someone who knew Cruz and expressed a worry that Cruz would go to a school and begin shooting people. The tip reported Cruz’s “gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting.” Despite this and Cruz’s past history of aggression and violence, the FBI did nothing.
More needs to be done to prevent the loss of even more lives in a place meant to keep children safe. Guns and weapons are far too accessible to be considered safe, especially when background checks fall short and people believe it is their second amendment right to hold semi-automatic rifles and shoot whenever they feel threatened. Any signs of extreme aggression or violence should be taken seriously without any doubt as to the capacity of children to do harm because it has been proven time and time again that this is not always the case.
Authority figures have a responsibility to protect the next generation and ensure that schools are a place to cultivate their minds, not a place for children to run in fear for their lives from someone they previously passed in the halls.
If we were to look into different shootings that have occurred in our nation’s past, it is extremely likely that we will find a pattern of ignorance and flawed second amendment rights. Limited gun restrictions have not garnered success in protecting the youth of our country, which is why stricter gun laws are necessary. Any threats or possible signs of premeditated violence should not be taken lightly and must be addressed head-on to prevent any more lives lost.
Featured Image (At the top of this post): Students at Tamalpais High School hold a vigil after the Parkland shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018. (Photo Credit: Fabrice Florin, Flickr Images)