Mass Shooting at Florida High School

Seventeen people were killed and at least 14 more wounded Wednesday afternoon in the latest horrific school shooting in the United States. The tragedy unfolded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, located some 30 miles northwest of Fort Lauderdale, in Broward County.

According to reports, a former student started shooting from outside and then entered the school building, firing an AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle with multiple magazines at students and teachers, evidently targeting people randomly. Students barricaded themselves inside classrooms and then ran from the building while frantic parents raced to the scene.

The shooting rampage began at about 2:30 in the afternoon, shortly before the end of the school day. Students said someone pulled a fire alarm just before shots started to ring out. The gunman was reportedly on the loose in the school for more than an hour.

Just after 4 PM, the Broward County Sheriff’s Department announced that the suspected shooter had been apprehended. They said he surrendered without incident several miles from the school. He was identified as 19-year-old Nikolaus Cruz, who had been expelled from the school for disciplinary reasons.

Cruz was reportedly a member of the Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC).

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel told reporters later in the afternoon that the dead and wounded included adults as well as students, but he said he did not yet know how many of each.

A video posted on social media showed students cowering under desks during the melee. Hannah Siren, 14, was in math class on the third floor of the freshman building when the shooting broke out. She told the Sun-Sentinel newspaper, “The people next door to us must have not locked their door. They all got shot.”

Lisette Rozenblet, whose daughter attends the school, was quoted by NBC News as saying, “Her biggest fear is a school shooting. She is always begging me to be home-schooled because she was scared of this.”

Math teacher Jim Gard told the Miami Herald he had taught the suspect last year and said he was troubled. “There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus.”

The mass shooting in Parkland was the 18th school shooting just since the beginning of 2018, i.e., in the space of less than seven weeks. There have been school shootings in 13 states so far this year, including at least two each in Texas, California and Michigan. While many of these events did not result in fatalities or injuries, a good number did.

NBC News has compiled a list of shooting incidents since the beginning of the year that resulted in injuries and/or deaths at elementary, middle and high schools. As of February 5, these shootings had killed four people and wounded more than 20 others.

They include:

• Oxon Hill High School in Prince George’s County, Maryland on February 5—one student injured

• Salvador Castro Middle School in Los Angeles, California on February 1—two students shot

• Marshall County High School in Benton, Kentucky on January 23—two students killed and 18 injured

• NET Charter High School in New Orleans, Louisiana on January 22—one student injured

• Italy High School in Italy, Texas on January 22—one student injured

• Coronado Elementary School in Sierra Vista, Arizona on January 10—one student killed.

Since the 1990s, school shootings have become a common and horrific feature of American life. Names such as Jonesboro, Columbine, Virginia Tech and Newtown have become synonymous with violent and bloody eruptions at schools and campuses that in some cases claim dozens of lives.

These are just a subset of a much longer list of mass killings. According to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit organization, 2017 was “the deadliest year of mass shootings in modern US history.” The group counted 345 mass shootings, defined as an incident in which four or more people are shot (not including the shooter). Overall, the website calculates that more than 15,000 people in the US died from gun violence last year, with another 31,000 injured.

The period that has seen an escalating eruption of mass shootings in America roughly corresponds to more than a quarter century of virtually uninterrupted war waged by US imperialism, beginning with the first Gulf War of 1991. Throughout this entire period, the ruling class and both of its major parties have promoted militarism and glorified military violence, while they carried out “shock and awe” attacks on defenseless populations that killed millions and destroyed entire societies.

In parallel with the growth of militarism there has been a continuous increase in social inequality and a drastic deterioration in the social conditions of the working class, and particularly the young generation. Today, young people, who have known nothing but war overseas, face worsening prospects for secure and decent employment and a massive burden of student debt. Hence the growth of scourges such as the opioid epidemic and an ever-rising suicide rate among young people.

Politics and culture have been blighted by the deliberate cultivation of nationalism and anti-immigrant racism and efforts to encourage the most backward conceptions.

No section of the political establishment and neither of the two big-business parties can offer any policies to address the social crisis. The response of the politicians to each mass shooting is to demand a further buildup of the police apparatus of the state and a further crackdown on Internet speech and criminalization of political dissent. The Republicans promote “gun rights” and the Democrats cart out their hobbyhorse of “gun control,” without any examination of the social and political conditions that produce violence.

Donald Trump, as usual, expressed with particular banality and insincerity the inability of the ruling class to address the question of why such events recur with numbing regularity in America. Shortly after the shooting in Parkland had ended, he tweeted: “My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting. No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.”

This is a man who just a few weeks ago in his State of the Union address presented a delusional picture of a grateful and happy nation moving from success to success.

The reality is a growing political radicalization and overall movement to the left within the working class and particularly among the youth, who have registered in poll after poll a growing interest in socialism and hatred for capitalism. This anticipates the renewal of class struggle on an unprecedented scale. This is the path, directed politically against capitalism and for socialism, to resolving the social impasse that generates malignant events such as Wednesday’s eruption in Florida.

Originally published in

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  1. David Anderson says:

    Let’s call it by its real name: Neo-Liberalism.

    “Neo-Liberalism” gives full rein to the dark neurotic psychotic side of human impulse. That impulse is in a sense driven by narcissism. For those who subscribe, there is no compromise. It is like a religious belief. It is also ethically problematic. Those who adhere become blinded to the suffering of the downtrodden.

    This American Neo-Liberalism in its original and now in its solidified archetypal form by the Trump Administration encompasses freedom of choice in the market place. With this has come an abhorrence of any form of government control over markets.

    It also encompasses freedom in other areas such as the possession of guns. “Get the government out of my life” is the saying.

    The late economist Nobel Prize Winner Milton Friedman built his reputation on this American belief of Neo-Liberalism. Adam Smith’s “hidden hand” had for Neo-Liberals like him become a near religious “belief.”

    House Speaker Paul Ryan today subscribes to this Friedmanian Neo-Liberal near religious economic “belief” in the broadest sense. (Also, he is known to be a follower of Ayn Rand)

    This system of belief was the underlying reason Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan (A Neo-Liberal and Ayn Rand acolyte in his younger years) steered the Congress away from action that could have prevented the 2008 market crash. Here is a quote from him during a congressional testimony before the crash:

    “Increasingly complex financial instruments have contributed to the development of a far more flexible, efficient, and hence resilient financial system….”

  2. Jim Miles says:

    A society created by violence, expanded through violence, and filled with violence – perhaps it will die by violence – unfortunately that probably takes the rest of the world with it. As long as there is a Second Amendment supported by the NRA, nothing will change.

  3. Sally Dugman says:

    My daughter is a guidance counselor, a position like being a school psychologist. She, by herself, handles a school with 350 children in her role. It is a lot of heavy work with such a huge load of children to which to attend. So you streamline and teach classes to groups and only attend to the individuals worst in trouble.

    She is just a course or two under her doctoral degree. She didn’t complete it so that she would look like a financial bargain with only a Master’s with a 4.0 GPA (grade point average) since pay scale is dictated, wrongly, by educational level, which forces us to compete with each others for positions.

    One of her and my “jokes” is that I did my Master’s coursework with 4.0 GPA while going to school full-time and working a 40 hour a week job. (Her jobs were only twenty hours a week while she was a full-time student.) …

    We love to tease. We, more than playing around with each other, like to discuss the issues in our lives. So she will discuss cases and individual issues related to her job and I will respond with ideas. … It is very professional. She never discloses identities, nor personal information of other sorts.

    Now here’s my fear. She is my only child. She is in a public position that puts her at risk like that school psychologist that got killed in Sandy Hook. It is because ALWAYS a number of the students, parents, teachers and administration have mental health problems that are not being adequately addressed if even addressed at all.

    So every time that an incident happens like this one in FL happens, I get deeply disturbed. I can’t imagine losing my kindly daughter, who wants to serve humanity, in a deadly shooting. I can imagine the pain of people who did suffer such losses.

    Something needs to be done and done quickly to fix our broken health care system. The work that my daughter does is simply not enough! (Some of the adults and children with whom she deals are outright vicious. Others are crazier than coots!) … Her job is the support of children, but she is swamped in work. So our society needs to step up to make corrections. This little daughter of mine CAN’T do it all on her own. Impossible!