Man arrested after posting photograph to Instagram in the wake of Florida school shooting
In the aftermath of the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School last week, more and more American citizens are calling for greater gun control. Former student Nikolas Cruz opened fire with a semiautomatic AR-15 in the hallways and school grounds, leaving a death toll of 17. This makes it the most fatal US school shooting since 2012, and one of the world's deadliest school massacres. In any case, the students of Stoneman Douglas aren't sitting back and accepting the condolences of politicians.
"I think it’s great that they’re saying ‘thoughts and prayers,’ but it doesn’t do anything. And after every single shooting that’s what they say over and over again, but nothing ever changes," said 17-year-old Carly Novell, who hid in a closet for two hours while the gunman rampaged through the high school. "It has to be political because this happened because of guns, this happened because of the relaxed gun laws that we have."
And now, police in Texarkana, Texas have arrested 24-year-old Ricky Jared Rankin for reportedly posting a photograph of an AR-15 - the model of semi-automatic rifle used in the Florida shooting - to Instagram, with the caption "I’m thinking about finally going back to school".
According to KTBS, the post resulted in an immediate police investigation, and as a precautionary step, local school districts were notified of the potential threat. Officers and FBI agents obtained a search warrant for Rankin's property and arrested the individual without incident.
While the firearm in question has not been found, weapons belonging to other family members in the home have been secured. Chief Dan Shiner confirmed that Rankin is currently being held in custody.
He stated, "We don’t know if this post was meant as a joke or if he really planned to go to a school with a gun. However, our department takes comments like this very seriously and will take swift action to protect the children in our schools. No one wants the tragic events that we’ve all seen in other places to be repeated here."
Rankin is one of several individuals to be detained after making ill-advised social media posts, which show them brandishing guns or making threats. Yesterday, WCTV reported that the Wakulla County Sheriff's Office in Florida has arrested 18-year-old Kane Watson for purportedly sending a Snapchat video of himself loading a firearm with the caption, "Don't go to school". And at least three students from Chattanooga, Tennessee are in custody after making threats or poorly received hoaxes on social media.
But whilst it's reassuring that law enforcement has been especially litigious in the wake of the mass slaughter in Parkland, Florida, the debate surrounding greater gun control is as topical as ever. Certainly, Florida's democratic senator, Bill Nelson, has repeatedly queried what it will take "for enough to be enough".
"Don't tell me tomorrow isn't the appropriate time to debate gun violence. If you're a political leader doing nothing about this slaughter, you're an accomplice," he wrote on Twitter.
Our thoughts lie with everyone affected by this tragedy.