5 years after Parkland and mass shootings keep going up; local student activist says culture must change
WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- For some, Valentine's Day is a reminder of the lives that were lost due to senseless gun violence.
Feb. 14 marks 15 years since the mass shooting at Northern Illinois University, where five people were killed and 17 others were hurt. In addition, five years ago on Tuesday, 14 students and three staff members were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Most recently, a gunman killed three students and wounded five others at Michigan State University on Monday night before leading authorities on a manhunt, which ended after he fatally shot himself.
Karly Scholz is originally from Madison, Wisconsin, and she said she became an activist against gun violence following the Parkland shooting.
"A lot of the victims were freshmen in high school, and I was also a freshman in high school at the time, and it really showed me that gun violence can happen anywhere, and it doesn't differentiate from its victims," she said.
Mass shootings continue to rise nationwide. So far this year, at least 67 mass shootings have been reported in the U.S., just short of two months into 2023, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The organization defines mass shootings as attacks involving at least four or more individuals who have been shot.
Scholz said she's been working on preventing gun violence statewide in Wisconsin since the age of 14. Last fall, she was inside a library at the University of Virginia when a manhunt ensued for the shooter who opened fire on a bus full of students returning from a field trip.
"All of a sudden, I was experiencing it, and so we ended up being held in the library for 12, 13 hours overnight and it was weird and scary, and frightening and frustrating to know what was happening, especially after having kind of worked in the gun violence prevention sphere for so long," she explained.
"We need young people to understand that they (guns) make us less safe," Scholz said. "That more guns mean more gun violence, and I think when we get that cultural shift in young people, then a lot of movement and legislation and everything kind of follows behind that."
On Tuesday, in light of the Parkland shooting anniversary, President Joe Biden posted on Twitter, in part saying: "For the lives lost and the lives we can save, we must ban assault weapons."
Five years ago, a gunman committed an act of horror at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.— President Biden (@POTUS) February 14, 2023
Today, we mourn the 17 loved ones lost. And pray for the countless loved ones left behind.
For the lives lost and the lives we can save, we must ban assault weapons. pic.twitter.com/CRR4g6oLXK
Many like Scholz are waiting for leaders to step up and make drastic changes on gun reform at the federal level.