School Shooting Threats Spike Post Parkland Tragedy

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School Shooting Threats Spike Post Parkland Tragedy

America has been reeling since the tragic school shooting in Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School that left 17 students dead. Many survivors of this tragedy have been marching across the nation to demand reform, dubbing the phrase “never again” to describe the threat placed on their lives by loose gun-control laws.

Unfortunately, while the left and the right have been avidly debating gun-control, school safety, and mental illness, school shooting threats have increased exponentially since the Parkland Florida shooting.

The Educator’s School Safety network, a nonprofit organization that provides training and research in an effort to keep schools safe, notes that there have been “up to 65 threats to US schools a day [since the shooting], compared to a daily average of 11 before.” Although it is normal for these threats to increase slightly after a mass school shooting similar to Florida’s in what is dubbed a “copycat effect,” the increase in recent threats have been statistically unprecedented and significant.

Particularly in our local community, an 18-year-old Hills graduate, Christopher Ruby, was arrested for possession of an illegal weapon after he posted a photo of it on Instagram. Captain Laurence Martin stated, “In light of the recent tragic events that occurred in the state of Florida and the acts of gun-related violence reported throughout the United States of America, this investigation is a clear example of how vital it is for law enforcement to vet information in a timely manner for the purpose of proactively investigating and apprehending individuals who are suspected of being in possession of illegal firearms.” There was no direct threat made, but the individual had documented previous run-ins with police authorities.

In terms of school closings, Nutley schools were closed on Friday because of a security threat made in an Instagram video by 18-year-old Joseph Rafanello, who was charged with third-degree false public alarm. Rafanello had posted a video of him in a shooting range set to the song “Pumped Up Kicks,” which details students running away from a “six shooter gun.”

Over seventeen New Jersey schools have been impacted by potential school shooting threats within ten days of the Stoneman Douglass High School tragedy. Several individuals have been arrested, several lock-downs have been cleared, and several schools have closed.

In light of school tragedies and lost lives of innocent students, it is sometimes easy for people to become detached and have the “it can’t happen to me” or “it can’t happen here” mentality. But unfortunately, the sad fact is that it can, which is why the national conversation about school safety is all the more important and topical to our local community.

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