The teenage charged with unleashing one of America’s worst school shootings may have chosen Valentine’s Day to strike after the end of a relationship with a girlfriend. Nikolas Cruz gunned down 17 people at his former school in Parkland, an suburb north of Miami, Florida. Police said he Cruz fired an AR-15 assault-style rifle for a few minutes. “It’s one of the most horrific crimes in the history of America,” Finkelstein, a public defender in Broward County, said.
People who knew him described Cruz as a weird and racist with anti-Semitic ideas, gun-obsessed loner, having a troubled life filled with unnerving behavior, suggestions of violence and repeated brushes with law enforcement. A former student who was expelled from the high school last year for disciplinary reasons.
Last fall, a Mississippi bail bondsman noticed an alarming comment left on one of videos in YouTube channel. “I’m going to be a professional school shooter,” said a user named Nikolas Cruz. The YouTuber, 36-year-old Ben Bennight, alerted the FBI, emailing a screenshot of the comment and calling the bureau’s Mississippi field office. The FBI received a lot of warnings that the 19-year-old charged in the massacre might carry out an attack at a high school but then investigators failed to act on it.
Assault-style rifles are relatively cheap and easy to buy in US and there are estimated to be millions of these rifles already in civilian hands. The AR-15, in particular, is most popular rifle in America and estimates Americans own more than 8 million of them. The National Rifle Association has called the AR-15 the semi-automatic (one shot with each trigger pull), civilian version of the military’s M-16.The weapon has been used by killers in many recent mass shootings including Aurora, Orlando, Las Vegas, Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Sutherland Springs and so many more.
California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey and New York, have laws banning the sale of assault weapons or components for increase the Assault rifles performance. However gun owners and gun manufacturers have found ways around the ban, they make small modifications, how to allow the replacement of various parts after purchase. AR-15 and similar weapons are highly customizable, allowing for the addition of aftermarket sights and components which allow shooters to quickly reload that make them more effective and easier to wield. So federal attempts at banning assault weapons have been largely unsuccessful.
In 1994, then-President Bill Clinton signed a federal ban on the manufacture, sale and possession of assault weapons. The law specifically banned certain semi-automatic weapons, including the AR-15, as well as rifles that could accept detachable magazines. That ban lapsed in 2004, when Congress did not reauthorize it. After the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut, some members of Congress sought to renew the assault weapon ban but was excluded from a vote by the full Senate due to Republican opposition. House Democrats again pushed for renewal in late 2015, following the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, and in 2017 following the Las Vegas and Texas shootings; without seeing any results so far.
Nikolas Cruz legally bought the weapon he used to slay 17 people even though he is too young to legally buy a beer. Governator Rick Scott at a press conference said: “If somebody is mentally ill they can’t have access to a gun.” However Cruz obtained the weapon despite his alarming behavior over the years: He had undergone mental-health treatment, displayed an obsession with guns and demonstrated a propensity toward violence, his social-media posts also showed his love of weaponry.
There’s plenty of debate over what constitutes a shooting as well as what drives those who commit them. But it’s increasingly clear that individuals who want to inflict mass casualties are taking advantage of the widespread and easy availability of weapons in United States. What we wrote are some of the reasons Cruz bought his killing machine with ease.