On Valentine’s Day, February 14th of 2018, 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. It was reported that 19 year old Nikolas Cruz, who was previously expelled from the school, is responsible for pretending to be a student while having a gun in his backpack, taking the lives of many innocent people. Teachers, students, and other school personnel did their best to protect as many lives as possible, but some didn’t make it. This tragic event raises several serious questions on the topic of gun violence and mental illness; when will this end?

Students who survived the shooting believe that stricter gun laws need to be enforced. According to BBC News, one student stated,

I understand it’s our second amendment right to bear arms. Okay – bear an arm. But this [a semi-automatic rifle] is something the military has. You shouldn’t have these things.”

Gun laws are a serious topic of discussion, but there are also serious mental health concerns associated with the incident. CNN reports that on a private Instagram group chat, Cruz made several racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic views, even stating that he was “going to kill people”. The comments made in his discussion aren’t only major warning signs, but his behavior growing up provide warning signs as well.

For example, the Washington Post confirms that Cruz would try to hurt and kill squirrels and chickens with his pellet gun and tried to get his dogs to attack baby potbelly pigs. A resident of Cruz’s neighborhood stated they watched him place a long stick inside rabbit holes, trying to kill whatever was inside. Several other aggressive instances occurred over the years, with many of his neighbors calling security on him. Cruz’s parents both died, with his adoptive father dying in 2004 and his mother dying last year from an illness. Cruz’s depression got much worse, and he isolated himself even more.

This horrific situation raises two major concerns: how gun laws should be handled, and how people can identify the warning signs of someone who could be dangerous and report it before others get hurt. If you suspect that someone you know may harm others, always report it to local authorities, school officials, and anyone who you think may need to know about the situation. As a country, we need to come together and report these instances so that hopefully we can save lives.

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