Parkland: Was justice really served?


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In 2018, students created a tribute made out of chalk in response to the Parkland shooting.

Valentine’s Day. A day that is supposed to be filled with love and joy. It was a normal day for students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, until it wasn’t. Out of nowhere, gunshots rang out, echoing through the halls. 

Nicholas Cruz took 17 lives that day, leaving the nation heartbroken. According to CNN, this event is one of the 10 deadliest single-day mass  shootings in modern U.S. history.

After the shooting in 2018, the victims’ families had to wait until Oct. 13, 2022 to hear what some consider to be a disappointing verdict. Cruz, 24, is now facing life in prison without the possibility of parole. 

According to CNN, there were some mitigating circumstances from Cruz’s past that his defense attorneys said warranted a life sentence instead of the death penalty. Many of  the victims’  parents were devastated after hearing the news and had strong opinions regarding the verdict. Some felt it was equivalent to losing their children all over again.

 As reported by CNN, Max Schachter, father of one of the victims, wrote on Twitter: “Life in prison is NOT punishment! That is exactly what he wanted.” 

Linda Beigel Schulman, mother of geography teacher Scott Beigel, said of Cruz: “I hope he has the fear in him, every second of his life, just the way he gave that fear to every one of our loved ones, who he murdered.”

This is not the only event where students have lost their lives to gun violence. There are many events like the Parkland shooting that affect society and make people wonder if they will stop. 

All over the country, security measures have been put in place, including more detailed drills for students of all ages and backpack bans in some school districts. Such measures may help keep people safe and alert them if anything goes awry. 

Mariam Sheriff, a senior at Guilford, reflected on how the Parkland news has impacted her. She said the verdict causes conflict for many people, because so many wanted to see a different form of punishment. Sheriff also pointed out how so many black and brown individuals are wrongly convicted and have died as a result of the death penalty. 

While the verdict hasn’t affected her too much, she is fearful for her younger relatives as well as students she has mentored.

“School shootings are becoming too frequent and it’s very sad,” Sheriff said.

Senior Mike Mesa also weighed in on the issue. “I feel as if it is a clear indication of the bias of our government,” he said of the verdict. What bothered him most was his belief that Cruz took so many innocent lives and then proceeded to fake his insanity. 

School shootings are worrisome for many in the United States and across the globe. Many, such as Mesa and Sheriff, fear for the lives of children, both now and in the future. Mesa said he feels that the country is unsafe, and he does not want more shootings to happen.  Many U.S. citizens wonder how and why people, especially youths, are able to access and purchase guns so easily.

 Conversations regarding topics such as gun control and school shootings have become more prevalent in politics, with some wanting to take measures to prevent such events from repeating themselves. 

Sheriff observed that, in response to school and gun violence, especially in response to the shootings at Parkland, many students have walked out of their classes to protest in favor of change and better security. Because these shootings continue to reoccur, Mesa believes that “we haven’t learned from our past.”