School shootings like Tuesday’s Michigan tragedy can happen at any school, anywhere in the country. When they do occur, the impact is keenly felt in Parkland, among families who lost loved ones in the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre.
“It’s so infuriating that it’s been decades since the Columbine shooting and almost four years since Parkland and this violence, this senseless violence continues to happen,” said Max Schachter, who lost his son, Alex, in the Parkland shootout.
“We remember the loss of our loved ones, I remember my beautiful and bubbly daughter, Gina, who we sent to school and she never came home that day, and we know the families of the victims in Oxford Township are feeling exactly that, that punch, âsaid Tony Montalto, chair of the advocacy group, Stand With Parkland.
Since the MSD tragedy, Montalto and Schachter have dedicated their lives to making schools safer. Schachter runs Safe Schools For Alex, another advocacy organization.
“There are far too many guns and unfortunately we can’t put this genius back in the bottle, what we can do is make our society safer and work to prevent this from happening again,” he said. Schachter said.
“We need more than thoughts and prayers, these families deserved more than thoughts and prayers, what this nation needs is action from Congress,” Montalto said.
Montalto and Schachter each support national extreme risk protection orders, known as red flag laws, which allow police to temporarily remove guns from mentally unstable people. Several states, including Florida, have them.
They also support laws that provide more mental health counseling in schools and behavioral threat assessments for at-risk children.
“And the purpose of these threat assessments is not to incarcerate anyone, it is not to punish anyone, it is not to stigmatize anyone, it is to connect students who need help with available services before resorting to violence, âsaid Montalto.
Ironically, Montalto and Schachter met Michigan Senator Gary Peters just a few weeks ago, asking him to support Stand With Parkland’s bipartisan program. Montalto said his last words to Peters sounded tragically prescient now.
“The consequence of Congress’ inaction is to meet more devastated families like mine,” Montalto said, as they left the senator’s office.
Schachter said there were lessons learned from Parkland that saved Michigan lives: Classroom doors were locked and the presence of a school resources manager was vital. SRO got the shooter to surrender with 18 live ammunition still on him.
In Florida, every school is required to have a police officer or armed guardian on campus.