The deadly school shooting in Florida on Wednesday is certain to lead to a chorus of calls for gun bans and a variety of gun purchasing restrictions, but if history is any indication, little will change in American gun legislation no matter the death toll, or the outrage.
Some of the deadliest school shootings in the United States include mass fatality events at Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook Elementary School, Columbine High School and Umpqua Community College. On this grim list, the deadliest was the 2007 shooting in Blacksburg, Virginia, when student Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and injured 17 others after launching one attack at one of Virginia Tech’s co-ed dormitory and another at an engineering building.
Virginia Tech students run from Norris Hall as an ambulance crew arrives on the scene in Blacksburg, Va., Monday, April 16, 2007
Cho, who was previously diagnosed with severe anxiety disorder, committed suicide after his attack.
At Sandy Hook, five years after the shooting at Virginia Tech, 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed 26 people, the majority of them children between the ages of five and 10. He, too, killed himself after launching his attack.
But it was the massacre at Colorado’s Columbine High School on April 20, 1999, that first shocked the nation and pushed gun control issues to center stage. After gunmen Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris killed 12 and injured 21 others with weapons purchased from private dealers at a gun show, then-US President Bill Clinton responded by demanding legislation that required stricter controls on top of the already established background checks for buyers.
Students from Columbine High School are led away from the facility after two gunmen went on a shooting rampage Tuesday, April 20, 1999, in the southwest Denver suburb of Littleton, Colo.
Though Clinton was able to shepherd an amendment to require background check on all buyers at gun shows through the Senate a month after the Columbine shooting, it later died in the House.
Now, 19 years after Columbine, school shootings are still taking place and though new restrictions are proposed after almost every incident, they consistently fail to gain enough Congressional support to become law.
In 2013, former US President Barack Obama proposed tighter gun laws and called for universal background checks for gun sales, an assault weapons ban and the limiting of ammunition magazines to a 10-round capacity. However, Obama didn’t succeed.
Officials are on the scene outside of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where authorities say a gunman opened fire inside an elementary school in a shooting that left 27 people dead, including 20 children, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012
Getting nowhere in Congress, parents and advocates alike have taken matters into their own hands as much as possible. In December 2017, Sandy Hook Promise, a gun violence prevention group, launched promotional ads to raise awareness to prevent “tomorrow’s” school shooting.
In their own effort, the United States Army and the Department of Homeland Security developed a joint program with the aim of showing how teachers and school administrators should respond in the event of a school shooting.
“The idea behind the whole program is to help teachers and school administrators understand what to do and what actions they could possibly take before law enforcement even arrives on the scene,” John Verrico, chief of media relations for the US Department of Homeland Security, told Sputnik in January. “Quite often in these kinds of incidents, by the time the police get there, the majority of the situation is virtually over.”
“It’s really important for teachers and school personnel to understand the procedures that they might have available to them, the precautions that they could take, and what they should practice doing, in order to understand how to keep everybody safe,” he added.
With yet another school shooting taking place in the US, this time at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, politicians will likely take up the fight, on both sides, once more.
The last major gun law passed in the US was in 2005 — to protect gun manufacturers and dealers from being held liable when shooters committed crimes with their products.