On Parkland, Valentine’s Day and Trump

The sun rose over Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14, 2018, with kindred spirits and an amorous air. By 2 p.m., Valentine’s Day in Parkland became a day that no longer yearned for heart-shaped chocolates. It yearned for 17 families and a nationwide epiphany on gun control.

Seventeen lives were ended almost one year ago by a sole shooter, Nikolas Cruz, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSDHS) in Parkland, Florida.

It was a day that allowed domestic terrorism to inch even closer to our home in Miami.

This shooting, one that claimed 14 students and three faculty members, was not mentioned once in President Trump’s 2019 State of the Union address, despite his Mar-a-Lago resort club being 40 minutes away. In fact, gun safety was not mentioned at all.

After Parkland, there has been 18 mass shootings in the United States; three were located in Florida.

As President Trump argued that illegal immigrates contribute to the high crime rate in the United States, he not once mentioned the crimes committed by white American men like Cruz, who have easy access to guns.


Despite the survivor-driven movement that the Parkland students and families sparked, President Trump refused to address or even mention guns in his State of the Union address. His immediate reaction to the Parkland shooting was to raise the age limit on buying certain assault rifles from 18 to 21.

However, by March, the president insisted on tackling the school shooting issues by arming school faculty instead. This plan is one that has been propagated by the National Rifle Association. In the 2016 election, the NRA spent $11.5 million to support Donald Trump.

They spent another $20.7 million to oppose Hillary Clinton. According to Fortune, “That’s over $31 million spent on one presidential race.”


It’s been a year filled with anguish and activism. However, all hope is not lost. While President Trump fails to have the gun-safety conversation, some states have acted. According to a year-end report by the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, 67 new gun laws were enacted by both Republican and Democratic legislators in 26 states and Washington D.C.

“I think we moved the needle. Not enough, but we did,” said Jaclyn Corin, one of the founding members of March For Our Lives and a senior at MSDHS.

And today, a year later, we mourn. We prescribe a little more hope each year as we continue fighting for the lives of the 17 people slain in the Parkland shooting. We mourn for them, and we ache because their deaths have not provided President Trump with sufficient pain. For him, Feb. 14 will continue just being Valentine’s Day. But that is not to signal defeat.


This year, I feel the same pain I felt one year ago. I will sit in my classroom, near the exit, always vigilant. I will see roses and think about them being placed on 17 gravestones instead of the arms of a lover. I will continue thinking about the families who have not slowed their mourning. I will remind my parents that I love them every single day.


But most of all, I will continue denouncing these domestic crimes as the symptom of a bigger illness: one that strains us by prioritizing an American subculture, capitalism, and the Second Amendment over the lives of children and those who exist to protect them.

The 17 victims lost were Alyssa Alhadeff, Scott Martin Duque, Jaime Guttenberg, Gina Montalto, Cara Loughran, Alaina Petty, Alex Schachter, Peter Wang, Luke Hoyer, Carmen Schentrup, Nicholas Dworet, Helena Ramsey, Joaquin Oliver, Meadow Pollack, Scott Beigel, Aron Feis and Chris Hixon.

Daniela Perez is a junior majoring in journalism and political science.