On February 14, 2018, a mass shooting occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen people were killed and fourteen more were hospitalized. Few events are more tragic than the senseless loss of life, especially when most of the victims were children. I cannot even begin to understand the grief of a parent who has lost a child or a spouse, a child who has lost their friend, etc. As is appropriate, there has been a tremendous outpouring of emotion and empathy towards the victims and a great deal of energy directed at finding a solution to prevent future reoccurrences of these horrible events.
The majority of the focus has been on gun control. While I don’t expect the focus to be shifted, I think it is crucial to address ALL of the issues, as gun control is only one aspect.
I am a huge supporter of Law Enforcement and the FBI, and this incident does not change that. However, a staggering amount of mistakes were made by officers and agents at all levels. I will not write his name, as he will not get fame from me, but this monster was reported to the FBI at least twice. He was reported to local law enforcement maybe 50 times. Law enforcement responded to his residence dozens of times. All school personnel were aware he posed a threat. Since 9/11, we have preached “See Something, Say Something”. In this case many people saw something and said something and still nothing was done. This represents a huge problem in our law enforcement system that must be addressed.
Law enforcement continued to compound these errors once the shooting started. An armed officer was present at the school. Some are calling him a coward. However after reading a statement from his lawyer, his actions do not sound as unreasonable as some make them seem. One fact is undisputed. This trained, armed officer did not enter the building and engage the monster. There are also reports that additional law enforcement officers arrived on scene and still did not enter the building. More disturbing to me are the reports that paramedics, EMTs, and other medical personnel were not allowed to enter the building and render aid in spite of being willing to assume the risks. This calls into question the policies and procedures of not just these law enforcement agencies, but all law enforcement agencies.
We also need to address the security of this school and every school in the nation. How did he get into the school? What physical barriers were there? Why were they ineffective?
I believe we also need to address the “mental health” aspect. I know some think this is a diversion tactic to avoid gun control, but I strongly disagree. I am not an expert in the subject, so I am not going to cover it in depth. As a parent of two children ages 10 and 13, I see firsthand how much stress and pressure they are under. I firmly believe that just as my generation had a harder time than our parents, my children’s generation faces more challenges with fewer tools to help them cope. The progress of time and technology is a double edged sword inflicting tremendous damage to our youth. Unfortunately the amount of mental health resources has been steadily diminishing since the 1970’s and their need is higher than ever. Like everything else, mental health is not the sole solution, but another piece of the puzzle that must be addressed.
And yes, Gun Control is another puzzle piece that needs to be addressed. I have been listening to many “experts” for weeks and the lack of knowledge on the subject is insulting. As a firearms dealer, collector, and trainer, I support the 2nd Amendment, the Individual Right to Bear Arms, the firearms industry, and I am a lifetime member of the NRA. Obviously I am biased. However, to make meaningful progress in the area of Gun Control, “their side” needs the support of people like me. When the media perpetuates myths, denigrates “our side”, vilifies the NRA, and bases conclusions on emotion rather than fact, why would people like me want to work with “their side” in spite of the fact that many of us support some levels of reform?
In an effort to increase the productivity of the Gun Control debate, I will publish additional gun control information aimed at dispelling the myths and then point out areas that need to be debated in an effort to find common ground and make meaningful changes. I will do this because I have a firm understanding on the subject and it ties in with my business and website. In order to stop (or more realistically reduce) the occurrence of tragic events like Parkland, it will take a lot more than Gun Control. I can only hope that others with appropriate skills address the other important issues.