This week, like so tragically many weeks in recent years, provided the United States with a stark and harrowing reminder of the threat of mass gun violence. In Parkland, Florida on Wednesday, a gunman opened fire at Stoneman Douglas High School, killing 17 people, 14 of them students. And on Friday, one of the state's many gun owners decided to take action ― this Florida man gave up his gun to the police, explaining that he know realizes nobody needs the kind of firepower the high-powered rifle provided him.
The man in question is named Ben Dickmann, and in a Facebook post on Friday, he described turning in his AR-57 rifle ― a variant of the infamous AR-15, which has been a reliable fixture of grisly mass shootings in the United States for years ― to the Broward County Sheriff.
"I am a responsible, highly trained gun owner. However I do not need this rifle. No one without a law enforcement badge needs this rifle. This rifle is not a “tool” I have use for," Dickmann wrote.
"A tool, by definition makes a job/work easier. Any “job” i can think of legally needing doing can be done better by a different firearm," he continued. "I enjoyed shooting this rifle immensely but I don’t need it, I have other types I can shoot for the same enjoyment."
According to Dickmann, he could have "easily" sold the rifle, but he didn't want to do that. Rather, he wrote that he doesn't believe anyone needs such a weapon, with the exception of trained law enforcement officers.
"I will be the change I want to see in this world. If our law makers will continue to close their eyes and open their wallets, I will lead by example," the post said.
Anyone who closely followed Dickmann on Facebook probably wasn't surprised when he announced he'd turned in his gun on Friday. On Thursday, just one day after the horrible shooting, he took to Facebook to talk about the shooting, as well as possible gun safety reforms. In that post, he also specifically spoke out against extended, high-capacity magazines, which allow guns to fire for much longer without reloading than originally designed.
"I’m sorry, but, as a hunter and someone that wants to defend my home, I do not need more than 6 rounds of capacity. There is simply no need for high-capacity magazines. I cannot see any justification for them. Those can go away," he wrote.
The Parkland shooting is far from the first incident of mass gun violence to inspire an outpouring of emotion, and pleas for reform. Just last year, 59 people were killed and more than 500 injured in a mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, one of the worst in American history.
Perhaps one of the most high-profile school shootings in recent memory ― prior to what transpired in Parkland this week, that is ― was the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut back in 2012, and that also fueled a broad public outcry for new gun laws.
In both cases, however, virtually no meaningful federal reforms or new laws resulted (although some robust state laws were passed), feeding into a sense of hopelessness for advocates for gun safety and reform. Polling suggests that public support for gun control measures has increased in recent years, however, even if the political class isn't inclined to take action.
It remains to be seen what policy proposals, if any, will result from the Parkland shooting. One thing is for sure, however ― some of the students who survived the attack, like Emma Gonzalez, are speaking out for change, and they're making it clear that they don't plan to fade away.