Who is at fault for seventeen dead children and staff in the Parkland, Florida high school? I assume you feel the same way I do and want to keep our children safe. That means we have to look at what worked to save lives at Parkland. We also have to see what failed in this latest murder. Without that examination, we’re likely to repeat our old mistakes. It sounds shocking, but we’ve done that before and I don’t want to repeat our mistakes again. I want to be an intelligent consumers of politics. We have to be smart and informed because politicians will try to sell us their latest agenda even if their proposal doesn’t work. I don’t want political theater to get in the way of our children’s safety. That is why we have to ask some tough questions. What worked, what failed this time, and what fails over and over?
What failed at Parkland?
Politically correct politicians were elected to the Broward County School Board. They told school staff and law enforcement officers to ignore crimes that would put students in jail. In particular, school staff were ordered to ignore threatening behavior that would have put this violent murder in a psychiatric hospital. On the one hand we were told to say something if we see something, but then the bureaucrats get involved and ignore the threats that are politically troublesome. We can save lives by removing that politically motivated willful ignorance.
Broward County Social Services knew there was a problem. They had numerous contacts with the murderer, his brother, and his family. Social services looked the other way. Reporting the murderer as psychologically unfit would have made him a prohibited person. A record of psychological problems would have made it illegal for him to buy a firearm. Let’s report those who need treatment.
Broward County Public Schools ignored years of bullying. They also knew that the murderer had problems. The murderer had been expelled from school six times for violent behavior and threats. Let our public schools expel violent students and report mental illness.
The Broward County Sheriff’s Department had been to the murderer’s home over three dozen times. The murderer made threats and pointed firearms at family members. Reports from the Deputies suggested that the murderer should be detained for a mental health evaluation. Then never acted on those recommendations. Let’s pay attention to the smaller threats so they don’t grow into mass murders.
Magazine capacity restrictions are proposed as a solution to stop mass murders. Magazines hold a certain number of cartridges. In theory, a smaller magazine limits the lethality of a firearm. That doesn’t work in practice. We’ve seen mass murderers who used illegal magazines, and we’ve had mass murderers who used small magazines, or none at all. All firearms, like all rental trucks, are lethal. Both were used by mass murderers to kill numbers of people.
Background checks are also proposed as a solution to stop mass murders. In theory we could stop criminals and crazies from getting a firearm by making it illegal for them to buy one. That fails in two very predictable ways. By definition, a background check looks backward at a person’s history. A background check always fails to stop the first crime. It also fails to stop criminals who get their firearms illegally. A recent study looked at criminals charged with violent crimes. They found that most criminals were repeat offenders and they got their guns illegally. We know that criminals don’t bother to obey firearms laws, so let’s not waste time with background checks that don’t work.
The FBI failed…again. The murderer at Parkland had posted threatening videos on YouTube. He bragged of being a mass murderer in a school. Several people reported those threats to the FBI. The FBI concluded that the videos themselves were not illegal, and the FBI closed the investigation. So much for the effectiveness of “See something, say something.” We saw. We reported…and the FBI did nothing. This makes several times that the FBI was warned of a mass murderer and then the FBI failed to stop the attacks. To the best of my knowledge, no one has been fired at the FBI for their failures.
Broward County School Resource Officers failed to stop the attack. These particular school resource officers knew the murderer by sight and reported him when he arrived on campus. They and other deputies then drove away and waited for the killing to stop. Unfortunately, the Florida legislature proposed adding more school resource officers as a solution. Doubling down on failure evidently works for Florida politicians…and Florida voters.
Gun control by age or by type of firearm has also been proposed. Murderers come in all ages, sex, and races. They use any or all of the tools they can get. Since a crazy nut used a gun to kill children, we’ve been told that we should all be disarmed so we couldn’t stop the next crazy nut that comes to kill children. That idea is a placebo, but not a solution. If young people under twenty-one are not old enough to protect themselves then it is our duty to protect them. Too often, politicians would rather look the other way.
The News Media failed horribly. There were dozens of attempted copycat crimes after the murders at Columbine High School. These copycat attacks usually occur four to six weeks after the previous event. These copycat murderers decided that they can make a name for themselves if they kill others. Our new media is all too happy to oblige. A responsible media would refuse to broadcast the name and face of the murderer. We don’t have a responsible media. We’ve already seen a secondary surge in attempted school murders due to the extensive media coverage at Parkland.
What saved lives at Parkland High School?
Students saved other students. They pulled barriers between the murderer and their friends. Sometimes students used their body as a barrier to protect others. It is important to remember these young men and women because these are the same people we propose to disarm in the name of student safety.
Teachers attacked the murderer. Teachers saved students by shielding them with their body. At the same time, we’ve been told that teachers are incapable of defending students and teachers must be disarmed.
Local law enforcement who happened to be on campus helped save lives. One officer was married to a PE teacher at Parkland. The officer was on campus and immediately moved toward the sound of the attack. He moved injured students to safety and then joined other officers who entered the school.
Emergency Medical Personnel did a great job. They did not wait a safe distance away and wait until the scene was declared safe and secure. Instead, they positioned their trucks between the murderer and wounded victims. The trucks gave them cover as they loaded up the injured. That saved countless lives. In contrast, it took almost an hour before medics treated the wounded inside the elementary school at Sandy Hook, Connecticut. It looks like these Parkland EMTs learned valuable lessons from past attacks.
Coral Springs police entered the school while Broward County Deputies remained outside. Time is the enemy and several people will be killed each minute in one of these attacks. Unfortunately, it took eleven minutes for Coral Springs police to arrive at the school and enter the correct building. The murderer had already grown tired of killing and had left the campus.
Two SWAT team members from Miramar, Florida happened to be training near the Parkland High School. They responded to the scene. They were later reprimanded for acting without orders.
Hurricane glass had been installed on the school windows. The glass would normally shield students from hurricane debris and murderers shooting into the school. In this case, the shatterproof glass kept the murderer from shooting at students who ran outside the school while the murderer was still inside. This probably helped the EMTs get to the wounded students who managed to escape.
We know some of the failures that contributed to the murders in this case. We know some of the actions and decisions that saved lives. We saw that the police were ineffective in stopping the murderer. Other police training agencies concluded that defenders must be at the school before the attack starts. Sadly, we’ve seen politicians propose things that will be ineffective in stopping the next murderer.
We know that there have been, and will be, violent people among us. We don’t have all the answers. We don’t know everything that could have been, or should have been, put in place to make our students safer. We know that time is the enemy. Murderers plan for years. We need to respond to an attack in seconds.
Let me ask you. What works to save our children’s lives? Take all the time you need.
Image: CCO Creative Commons: Excerpted from: https://pixabay.com/en/desperate-sad-depressed-cry-2048905/