"This shooting is different from the other ones," a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School told The New York Times. "I just have a gut feeling — something is going to change."
For now, that "something" boils down to President Donald Trump's very vague, very insufficient promise to ban "bump stocks," mechanisms that can transform an ordinary rifle into a submachine gun. Even if his promise is kept, it wouldn't prevent anyone from getting an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle — the weapon of choice for U.S. mass murderers — like the one Nikolas Cruz used to kill 17 people at the school in Parkland, Florida.
Just Another Shooting or One Shooting Too Many?
It's just another shooting because it's still very difficult to imagine that legislators will one day find the courage to break their chains and break up with the National Rifle Association. How many missed opportunities have there been since Columbine (a 1999 shooting that killed 15 people) to curb the flow of weapons in the United States (where there are 88 guns per 100 people)? The Republican-dominated, Florida legislature once again proved this point by refusing to entertain the idea of banning assault rifles, turning a deaf ear to the wave of national student indignation provoked by the Parkland shooting.
In The Boston Globe, a columnist observed, with some resentment, that articles about mass shootings could essentially be written in advance. Politicians mechanically repeat that their "thoughts and prayers" are with the victims and their families. The drama tends to boil down to the killer's mental health problems. The debate over tightening background checks for purchasers succumbs to partisanship, gridlocked by the NRA and its defense of the sacrosanct Second Amendment to the Constitution on the right to bear arms.
And yet. It's one shooting too many, considering the exceptional collective jolt that this tragedy suddenly provoked on the part of many American youths. What if this revolt, spread by social networks used for democratic progress, was the embryo of an irrepressible movement that will finally force Republicans to bend — especially in a state like Florida, with such high electoral value? Regardless, it highlights the gap that separates the American right from the majority of the population, which has long found it absurd that access to weapons is so poorly regulated.