It was Valentine’s Day 2018 when an armed man walked into a Parkland, Florida high school and opened fire, killing 17 students and teachers.
The attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School became the seventh deadliest shooting in US history, shocking a nation increasingly immune to gun violence. Suspect Nikolas Cruz, then 19, was charged over the killings.
It also sparked an unprecedented, nationwide push for tighter gun laws, prompting the historic March For Our Lives protest in March and making household names of activists including David Hogg and Emma González.
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Soon after the tragedy, US President Donald Trump himself sided with the controversial National Rifle Association (NRA), by publicly claiming teachers should be armed with guns to prevent future shootings.
“If you had a teacher who was adept with the firearm, they could end the attack very quickly,” Mr Trump said at the time.
“They’d go for special training and they would be there and you would no longer have a gun-free zone.
“Gun-free zone to a maniac — because they’re all cowards — a gun-free zone is, ‘Let’s go in and let’s attack because bullets aren’t coming back at us.’”
Mr Trump’s comments immediately sparked backlash, with former New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton slamming the concept of arming teachers as “the height of lunacy”.
The Florida teachers union has also rubbished the idea — but now, an official report into the slayings has recommended it be adopted.
The 15 members of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, who were tasked with investigating the attack and outlining ways to prevent similar future shootings as well as improving the response to them, handed down their findings in a 439-page report this week.
And in it, they recommend changing the law to allow teachers who were “properly selected, thoroughly screened and extensively trained to carry concealed firearms on campuses for self-protection, and the protection of other staff and students in response to an active assailant incident,” the report states, according to USA Today.
At the moment only teachers with police or military backgrounds are allowed to carry guns.
The report also criticised the response of both police officers and school staff following the shooting.
It also pushes for law change to allow schools to raise taxes to beef-up security and to force mental health care providers to report patients who threaten the safety of others.
“All stakeholders … should embrace the opportunity to change and make Florida schools the safest in the nation,” the report says.
“There must be a sense of urgency — and there is not, across-the-board — in enhancing school safety.”
Without asking, the teachers have a second function and will become Clint Eastwood, best gunner in the far west. Viva America, paradise of killers.
— Vvo (@vvo123) January 3, 2019
Um, have you Sky Screamers seen the report unanimously approved by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission? You know, the one which says teachers should be armed? More guns for the good guys, baby!
— Vince Pinto (@vincepinto) January 3, 2019
One does not need a vivid imagination to see the chances for fatal errors and prolonged carnage arming teachers provides. How will swat teams know a teacher is not a perpetrator?
— Really (@Contrarrion) January 4, 2019
MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL PUBLIC SAFETY COMMISSION -After #Parkland shooting, recommendations to allow teachers to be armed. This is common sense in how to stop bad people from killing kids. No gun signs and wishful thinking won’t #ksleg #ksed https://t.co/End7nYCoox pic.twitter.com/sc8rYHaCeq
— Nathan (@Ho8Go8L1N) January 3, 2019
Naturally, the response to the report if further dividing the nation, with those in the pro-gun camp arguing arming teachers is the best way to keep schools safe, while opponents slam the idea.
According to the Mass Shooting Tracker, an online tool which charts the country’s gun massacres, there were 426 mass shootings in the country in 2018, with 528 people killed.
And according to CNN, there was an average of more than one school shooting per week in America last year.
Nikolas Cruz, a former student at the school, was indicted on 17 counts of first-degree murder by a grand jury.
He now faces the possibility of the death penalty.
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