Nearly a week after a school shooting in Parkland, Fla., killed 17 people, gun control remains a leading topic of conversation across the nation.
An uneasiness continues to linger, and gun control and school shootings dominate the national conversation nearly a week after an attack at a Florida high school.
Threats of more shootings, and continued and canceled raffles of AR-15 rifles — the type of gun allegedly used during Valentine's Day's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 people dead — have ignited gun control debates in several states that voted for President Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election, including Texas, Arkansas, Missouri and South Carolina.
Trump, who ran partially on a gun rights platform and spoke at the National Rifle Association's national convention while a candidate for the presidency in May 2016, backed an effort to strengthen the federal gun background check system Monday after nearly a week of incidents that gained greater exposure because of Wednesday's shooting.
A South Carolina high school student was arrested Thursday in South Carolina after he threatened “round two of Florida” on social media the night before. The student intended the Snapchat posting as a joke, according to the Spartanburg (S.C.) Herald-Journal, but the school district said this was no laughing matter.
Volusia County, Fla., Sheriff Mike Chitwood said Friday that there were 15 false threats against Volusia County schools in the two days after the shooting, resulting in the arrest of a middle-schooler. The child allegedly joked that he was going to "blow up the classroom"
“A child may think it’s a sick joke, but we take everything very seriously,” Sherri Horton, a Spartanburg School District 3 spokeswoman, told the Herald-Journal. “Whether a child considers it a joke or not, the safety of our staff and students is paramount.”
An employee of the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff was arrested Thursday for a similar threat.
According to a probable cause affidavit, Joseph Howard Trotter, 67, left the message on the direct line of UAPB Police Chief Maxie Thomas, saying he was “about to become an active shooter.”
“Trotter has been ordered by the court not to return to campus, university spokeswoman Tisha Arnold said in a released statement. “Pine Bluff Police Department is working with campus police and other authorities on any criminal charges that might arise.”
And Pine Bluff wasn't the only Arkansas community dealing with a threat. According to The Stuttgart Daily Leader, the Stuttgart School District on Tuesday will implement new safety measures after several members of the district's administration received an email Friday with threats against one of its schools.
Stuttgart Superintendent Rick Gales said in a statement that local, state and federal law enforcement agencies are investigating the validity of this threat.
The new measures include exterior and interior doors being locked throughout the day, stricter building access for visitors and upgraded door lock systems throughout the district.
Meanwhile, debate continues to grow across as AR-15-style rifles are used in charity auctions and fundraisers throughout the country.
A South Lyon, Mich., high school football booster group canceled its raffle for an AR-15 after the Parkland shooting, but many similar efforts continue.
In Neosho, Mo., a youth baseball team for players 9 years old and younger will not stop the raffle of an AR-15 that began before Valentine's Day.
Neosho Mayor Ben Baker is among those who support the team continuing the effort.
“I firmly support the raffle and think it should continue,” Baker said in a statement. “I think its reprehensible that a handful of hateful people have attacked a good man (the team's coach, Levi Patterson) that is trying to make a difference in our community by giving his time to mentor the youth. I don’t mind when people have an opposing view, this is America and I believe in the first amendment! But when you viciously attack the personal character of people for trying to do something good and misconstrue the facts to fit a narrative, that’s simply wrong. It should never be where a man is fearing for the safety of his family because he oversaw a gun raffle. We’re better than this! The overwhelming majority of people in southwest Missouri are behind Levi Patterson in support of the raffle, and the amount they are raising for the baseball team is showing that.”
In Sherman, Texas, a Sherman-Denison Herald Democrat freelance photographer captured the scene as part of a speaking engagement of former Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz. One of the photos was then posted to Facebook. The photo showed Barbara Woodroof, the chairwoman of the Grayson County Republican Party, holding an AR-15 and objected to the politician holding the gun.
" 'Too soon' to talk about common sense gun control. But not 'too soon' to play around with guns at fundraiser," text superimposed over the photo said.