Larry Miller: My Perspective on Gun Violence as a Former Crime Reporter
Larry Miller is a veteran journalist who specialized in covering crime and the courts before joining Ceisler Media two years ago. Here are his thoughts on the school shooting in Parkland, FL.
Let’s rightly and deliberately call this latest mass shooting the Valentine’s Day Massacre.
Parkland, Florida now has the distinction of being the site of the nation’s latest mass shooting, if that can rightly be referred to as a “distinction.” Seventeen people killed; 14 students and 3 staff members. The shooter, Nikolas Cruz, 19, has been charged with 17 counts of murder and has reportedly confessed. As we’ve seen repeatedly in other investigations of similar horrific incidents, the signs that this young man was in a mentally and emotionally dark place, were all over social media.
Even the FBI received a report about Cruz a year ago. But the bureau didn’t have enough information to move forward with an investigation.
Oh – oh, I should not forget to list the locations of mass shootings our nation has suffered. There have been so many but here is a list of some with the highest number of deaths:
The Harvest Music Festival October 1, 2017: 58 killed. Pulse night club June 12, 2016: 49 killed. Virginia Tech April 16, 2007: 32 killed. Sandy Hook December 14, 2012: 27 killed. First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs November 5, 2017: 26 killed. Luby's Cafeteria October 16, 1991: 23 killed. McDonald's in San Ysidro July 18, 1984: 21 killed. University of Texas August 1, 1966: 18 killed. San Bernardino December 2, 2015: 14 killed. Edmond, Oklahoma August 20, 1986: 14 killed.
Where do we go from here? Our elected officials, local, state and federal will talk about stricter gun laws and proposed legislation to ban the sale of military-grade firearms. There will be finger pointing about how this bloodshed could have been stopped before it happened. We’re going to see images of candlelight vigils, stand for moments of silence and tweets and posts on social media about “our thoughts and prayers are with those grieving families.”
Talk is cheap by the way, that’s why there’s so much of it. Sometimes though, it’s needed to bring about needed and necessary social and political changes.
Now, a little focused context. Gun violence is a national problem that has no economic or ethnic boundaries. When gunfire erupts and bullets strike, we all bleed red and more and more frequently, children are becoming the targets. According to a Washington Post analysis “more than 150,000 students attending at least 170 primary or secondary schools have experienced a shooting on campus since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999.”
It’s easy to say: enough is enough and we need more sensible gun laws, we do. Can our law enforcement agencies do better when responding to red flags that indicate someone is harboring violent ideas? Definitely. Should we increase access to mental health services? Let’s put that question in this context: Cruz posted in the comments section of a YouTube video “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.”
Mentally ill. Ya think?
Larry Miller is a Special Projects Manager in Ceisler Media's Philadelphia office. Prior to joining Ceisler Media n 2016, Larry was a police reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune.