‚ÄčTo say what's followed in the weeks since the latest mass shooting in the United States has alarmed me would be an understatement.

On what was Valentine's Day in the United States a gunman shot dead 17 people and injured more than a dozen others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

Police have since accused 17-year-old Nikolas Cruz of being the gunman and a public outcry about gun violence has morphed into an outright movement with the social media campaign hashtag #neveragain.

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It's a tale that's become all too familiar, even to those of us living in regional New Zealand, but the grief is always fresh and ever palpable.

The photos of those caught up in the shooting say it all; anxious parents waiting to hear if their child is still alive, distraught students processing the loss of friends and, perhaps most notably, President Donald Trump's unwavering countenance.

The President has since met with some of the shooting survivors and remarked that he would rush in to save students and teachers from a gunman with an assault weapon, even if he was unarmed.

However, he then went on to voice his support for the divisive idea of arming school teachers as a preventive measure against future school shootings.

All of these things and more are worth noting. However, I think the dramatic fallouts proceeding this shooting have clouded the issue and distracted us from the real solution of responsible gun legislation.

Mass shootings of this kind should inspire radical change to the laws governing access to firearms in the United States.

I personally struggle with the fact that the AR-15 military-style rifle used to kill 17 people in what was a heinous act of violence is at the same time a symbol of freedom America so desperately clutches to its chest.

The golden sheen has well worn-off the Star-Spangled Banner's lyric, 'O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?'

The national anthem's messages have recently been exposed as racist, with several high schools banning it entirely, and I believe its messages of freedom are just as outdated.

If the freedom to access firearms coincides with the freedom to walk into a school and execute a mass shooting I have grave concerns that such massacres will never cease to exist.

My heart sinks a little more each time news breaks of a school shooting, or any mass shooting for that matter, but I'm never surprised and this is perhaps the worst part of it all.

The system seems truly broken and my heart goes out to those in America who feel they are screaming into a void.

The worlds of those who knew those 17 people killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have been shattered and join a large contingent of shooting victims.

Undoing this damage cannot be done but meaningful change to ensure the such incidents are less likely to occur would go some way to consoling those who are hurting.

I think the issue really boils down to respect; respect for the bereaved families' grief, respect for life and respect for the immense power a firearm has to take away said life.

While some may argue access to firearms is their right to freedom, I don't think anyone should have that freedom if they don't respect it.

Better to disarm the few who are dangerous with stricter gun laws than leave that massacre-potential simmering away for the sake of those who'd like to keep their guns.

This school shooting, like the many others before it, is undoubtedly a tragedy but the question of whether or not we will learn anything from it remains to be seen.