Parkland school shooting verdict once again raises debate on gun violence


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School shooter Nikolas Cruz pled guilty to seventeen counts of premeditated murder.

Tiffany Persaud, Features & Lifestyle Editor

A national travesty surfaced the news when Nikolas Cruz, a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school killed 14 students and three staff members on Valentine’s Day 2018 during a seven-minute rampage. He had been expelled from Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, Florida a year earlier after a history of threatening and violent behavior.  

After arriving at the high school with his AR-15 in hand Cruz immediately opened fire in multiple classrooms. His freedom only lasted an hour, when the police arrested him in a nearby neighborhood. How a 19-year-old can cause one of the deadliest massacres was initially unfathomable. As the investigation advanced, blame on President Trump and the NRA grew as blame on mental health diminished.  

This school shooting led to the March for Our Lives movement that was initiated by a group of Parkland students who began protesting the NRA and calling for heavier gun restrictions.  

March for Our Lives has three primary demands: 

  1. Pass a law to ban the assault weapons frequently used to carry out mass shootings 
  1. Stop the sale of high-capacity magazines, restricting the amount of ammunition 
  1. Close loopholes in America’s background checks and implement laws that require background checks on every gun purchase, including those that occur online or at gun shows 

Fast-forwarding over three years later, the families mourning the loss of their loved ones have finally reached legal justice. On Oct. 20, Cruz, who’s now 23 years old, pled guilty to all seventeen counts of first-degree murder.  

Cruz’s attorneys announced his intention to plead guilty to possibly save him from the death sentence prosecutors have been pushing for. By having Cruz plead guilty, his attorneys will be able to argue that he took responsibility for his actions.  

Cruz addressed the court in a statement saying, “I am very sorry for what I did, and I have to live with it every day. I am doing this for you, and I do not care if you don’t believe me. And I love you, and I know you don’t believe me.”  

The Montalto and Hoyer families were in attendance of this hearing. Their hands interlocked with one another as they were finally face-to-face with their children’s murderer. Montalto’s daughter, Gina Montalto, 14, and the Hoyer’s son, Luke Hoyer, 15, were both victims.  

Although this case carries significant legal meaning for mass shooting cases, school-affiliated violence, and white perpetrators, no apology or punishment will ever bring back those who died in the most tragic of circumstances.  

The case is now headed to the sentencing phase of the trial, which will be presented before a jury, where they will hear witness testimonies and review evidence. Jury selection will begin on Jan. 4, 2022. 

Iona College provides ample security and law enforcement presence to ensure the safety of the community, however, no one can stop an armed person from walking onto campus at any time. This is unfortunately the world we live in. Hoping for the best can only help your mental health, not anyone else’s, as gun permits, and illegal guns are easily attainable in New York.  

If you’re reading this, please say a prayer to protect all children and young adults from the dangers that surround them.