Yesterday, Daytona police received reports that a 19-year old student at Florida’s Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University was planning to carry out a mass shooting before winter break. According to Spectrum News, investigators say the student purchased a folding rifle along with hundreds of rounds of ammunition. It is a crime in Florida for a person under 21 years old to purchase a firearm, but because the state does not require background checks on unlicensed sales, there are avenues for people to purchase guns with no background check and no questions asked. Classmates alerted campus security after seeing photos of the weapon with alarming captions on social media, and authorities were able to stop the planning from going any further.
In September, two Harns Marsh Middle School students were also accused of conspiring to commit a mass shooting. A fellow classmate reported that one of the students had a gun in his backpack, and though authorities didn’t find one, further investigation revealed that the two were studying the 1999 Columbine mass shooting and were plotting to carry out a similar attack. Searches of the students’ homes revealed a gun and several knives.
Just last week, a South Florida teenager made a school shooting threat against Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in a social media chat room with classmates. The threat was reported, and school parents were alerted via robocall.
In these incidents, quick action from fellow students helped prevent potential tragedies, but this isn’t always the case. Nationally, 2021 has seen an unprecedented increase in gunfire on school grounds. Between August 1 and October 31 this year, there have been 89 instances of gunfire on campuses, killing 15 and wounding 63 — the most instances and people shot in that period since Everytown began tracking in 2013.
Leaders at every level have an obligation to help prevent gun violence in and around schools. In October, Everytown shared recommendations with the Biden-Harris Administration focused on preventing school gun violence before it happens and providing clear guidance on active shooter drills. Last month, heeding Everytown’s call, the White House announced new actions to prevent suicide, including the promotion of secure storage.
Guns are the second-leading cause of death among children and teens in Florida. In an average year, 187 children and teens die by guns in the state, and 66% of these deaths are homicides. More on Florida gun violence can be found here.