Gun Scares Continue in Wake of Parkland Shooting

On March 13, Portland Police responded to a report from administration about a student with a gun on Franklin property. They arrested the suspect at their house the same day, according to an email from Principal Valder. Photo by Nathan Wilk.

A Franklin High School student sent a threatening Snapchat that showed them “with a handgun in their waistband while in a Franklin classroom,” on March 13, according to an email sent to parents in the school community.

The student took the photo during school hours, and sent it to other students in the building. One recipient of the message, whose name was withheld by administration, filed a report, prompting administration to contact authorities. “…We received some information and then immediately reported it to the police… It was followed up [on] within two hours,” Principal Juanita Valder tells the Franklin Post. An arrest was made later that day.
“It’s an ongoing criminal investigation,” Vice Principal Mather says. Under FERPA laws, many of the specifics of the event are confidential, but administration emphasizes that “there’s no information that is shareable that hasn’t been shared.”

Mather also notes that although the incident occurred the day before the March 14 walkout, administration “[doesn’t] have any evidence to believe there was any connection between this incident and any present, past, or future school shootings.”
Regardless, the incident comes during an uptake in reports of threats and violence since February 14, when 18-year-old Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

In Florida, an 18-year-old was arrested after a list of target students was found in his backpack, along with a knife and drawings of peers being shot. Two days later, on February 21, a 13-year-old from Ohio killed himself in a middle school bathroom with a semi-automatic weapon. Text messages found by police later revealed he had been planning a shooting “bigger than anything this country’s ever seen.”

On March 20, four days before the March for Our Lives saw students and supporters alike gathered across the country to protest against continuing gun violence, another boy shot two classmates and himself in a Maryland school.

In total, more than 1,447 threats have been reported since the Parkland shooting, an ongoing report by the Educator’s School Safety Network reveals. 48 percent of reports of threats have come from ten states, including Ohio and Florida, according to the same study. Oregon is not among those listed as under most concern.

However, local tip line SafeOregon has still recorded a spike in activity. Between December 1, 2017 and February 28, 2018, the service, which allows local students to anonymously voice their safety concerns, received 381 reports, more than triple those between September and November of 2017.

Substantial research on the causes of the statistical changes does not yet exist, but there are two major theories.

The first is that the Parkland shooting helped inspire a number of copycats, which is mainly supported by historical research. A study published in 2015 in the Public Library of Science found “significant evidence of contagion in mass killings and school shootings.” After shootings, especially those where more than three people were killed, there existed an approximately 13 day period of heightened violence and replication.

The second theory is that due to increased concern following Parkland, as well as more visibility of reporting services, people are simply voicing their concerns more often. Across the nation, peer leaders, teachers, and school administrators have launched campaigns to educate children on the dangers of gun violence and their options in combating them.
As statistical information over the effects of Parkland continues to come in, the trajectory of these trends will be revealed. For now, staff, parents, and students in the Franklin community and across the country are vigilant for possible future threats.

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