On February 14th, a school in Florida began the day with kids arriving for class.
By the end of the day, their worst fears came true. A student – one of their own – arrived on campus with an AR-15 assault rifle and started shooting his classmates.
He killed seventeen people and wounded fourteen others. And he almost got away.
And the worst part about this … isn’t the shooting.
It’s the aftermath.
It’s the aftermath of parents who saw their kids go to school – and are now planning funerals.
It’s the aftermath of friends who had to “shelter in place” because of a “code red” shooting that took away their classmates, one by one.
It’s the aftermath of teachers who bravely hid their students in classrooms and in closets lest the shooter find them and exact his twisted desires of slaughter and carnage.
It’s the aftermath of police and first responders who rescued as many students as they could – and who later found the shooter and took him alive.
It’s the aftermath of elected officials arguing that “now is not the time to discuss gun control so soon after a tragedy like this.” Yeah. The same elected officials who wouldn’t discuss gun control after Las Vegas. Or Newtown. Or Virginia Tech. Or Columbine. Or Simon’s Rock. Or a church in South Carolina. Or a movie theater in Colorado. Or a nightclub in Orlando.
It’s the aftermath of right-wing blowhards with online radio shows and fringe YouTube channels who will claim that the Parkland shootings were a false flag, a hoax, a fake story created by actors to cover up some other nefarious deed orchestrated by Hillary Clinton.
It’s the aftermath of saying “thoughts and prayers to the community,” knowing that thoughts and prayers offer little solace to families who will never see their sons or daughters alive again.
It’s the aftermath of people looking for the name of the shooter and questioning if he was in the country illegally or if he was a minority that might have been radicalized by the Islamic State. Because if that was the case, then those people could use that as part of their own twisted political agenda.
It’s the aftermath of us saying, “What can we, as a nation, do about tragedies like this?”
It’s the aftermath of knowing it will happen again. No matter how many drills, no matter how many rehearsals, no matter how many times we check identifications at the front door and how many times we inspect bookbags before entering class.
That’s the worst part. Knowing that it will happen again.
And when it does … we will see heroes that will save as many children as they can.
And we will see angels that will save the children that the heroes could not.
And we will go through this vicious cycle once again.
If we don’t stop this vicious cycle now …
It will indeed prove how short our memories are.