The recent horrific school shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida sickens us all. We weep for the Florida shooting victims and their families and pray for the speedy recovery of the injured. We question who the shooter is, and what could have possibly driven the alleged Florida shooter to commit such a heinous crime? We know from the videos that are appearing online the shooting created the type of chaos and fear that can drive extreme emotional injury, in addition to physical injury and deaths of the Florida shooting victims.
Senseless shootings of this nature make us all question what is wrong with our society and culture that cause a mass shooting to happen. Some politicians are already agitating for more gun control laws before we know all of the facts around the incident. Early reports seem to indicate that firearms background checks that center on criminal history did not prevent the purchase of the AR-15 reportedly used in the school shooting because the Florida shooting suspect had no criminal record.
We know that the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 which is the federal law that prohibits possession of a firearm on school grounds has been ineffective in stopping school shootings like the one at Douglass High School in Parkland Florida, or Sandy Hook in Newton, MA, Columbine, CO and other locations. It seems obvious to this writer that the sick individual who premeditates murder of innocent school children is not going to be deterred by a mere sign or a law prohibiting firearms on school grounds.
As a father, I want my child to be safe from these types of attacks. As a citizen, I know the police, as great a job as they do, cannot be everywhere, all the time, every time. Even though I hold an Ohio License to Carry a Concealed Handgun permit, state and federal laws prohibit me, or any other licensed parent or teacher from carrying a firearm on school grounds. Our instructors in Utah, as well as the teachers in their schools, face no such prohibitions as long as they hold a valid Utah permit. We know because, we have taught hundreds of teachers in our Utah CCW classes, that a fair number of teachers are quietly and safely armed in Utah schools and prepared to defend their students from an active shooter. One of our own instructors, for example, is a college professor and legally carries his firearm on campus every day. He is highly trained, safe, and no one other than himself knows about the defensive tool he carries. He hopes no one ever needs to know. And so it goes with hundreds of teachers, educators, and faculty in states that allow firearms to be carried on school campuses. They are armed and prepared, every day, in the very place where they would be most needed if tragedy strikes.
I cannot help but think of the heroic Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School football coach, Aaron Feis, who shielded students with his body as the gunman opened fire in that Parkland Florida school. What if Aaron, a Parkland school security guard, and football coach, had been allowed, after proper training and certification, to be an armed protector with the ability to fight back? Aaron proved in his actions that he was willing to give his life to protect his students. If he had been armed, and trained he might have had a fighting chance to save his own life, or at least mitigate the loss of the life in that Florida school. In Israel, as a society, they understand the need for armed security, and every school with 100 or more students is required by law to have an armed protector on site.
My own school superintendent sent out an email today in reaction the shooting that contained the following words: “Our elected officials must give us sensible laws and policies that will better protect our children and adults. It is incumbent on all of us to demand that our leaders address this issue before another human being is harmed.” I agree with the intent of the superintendent, but suspect that with the wording “sensible laws” he is lobbying for more restrictions on firearms rights in a well-meaning, but futile, attempt to prevent criminals who do not obey laws from committing more harm.
It appears the Florida school shooter’s intentions were reported to the FBI in September of 2017. “[A] YouTube user named [REDACTED] left a comment on a video stating, “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.” The video’s creator alerted both the FBI and YouTube.
The San Bernadino shooters were not reported by suspicious neighbors because those neighbors were fearful of being accused of racial profiling by reporting the suspicious activity
I think it would more productive, politically feasible and effective to enforce the laws we currently have on the books and make some “common sense” preparations to ensure our schools and our children are not the soft targets of choice for the mentally deranged.
Redeploy our recently retired servicemen and women into our schools to guard our children:
America has a rich resource of recent servicemen and servicewomen who have already helped their country in the military. Many of these fine people would gladly serve again to protect our children in our schools and are looking to transition back into civilian life. I would feel much better if my son’s school had a recently retired marine or army specialist standing guard as an armed protector of the children. Let’s give those who have served overseas so well, the chance the serve again stateside.
Get the NICS system fixed now:
The NSSF’s campaign to FIX NICS to prevent prohibited persons from acquiring firearms is a good place to start and is the rare firearms legislation that enjoys some level of bipartisan support. It is too soon to know if the proper enforcement of state agencies reporting information into the NICS database would have prevented the shooting in Broward County, Florida, however, we know if the NICS database had been updated correctly, it would have prevented the perpetrator of the mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas from purchasing the firearm he used in the killing. The law was in place, it was just not followed by the US Air Force which had a legal obligation to report the gunman’s domestic violence conviction and his dishonorable discharge in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) National Crime Information Center database, which is used by the National Instant Check System to flag prohibited purchases.
Aside from providing armed protection for our children in our schools and preventing prohibited persons from obtaining firearms, we need to figure out how we can identify these potential threats and be proactive in making sure they do not become actual perpetrators. We need to look into our culture and society and identify what we are doing to create these broken individuals. We need to find them and get them under medical or law enforcement supervision or both. We need to make it socially acceptable to for people to follow the mantra “See Something, Say Something” without fear of being ostracized for profiling a suspect. We need to work with law enforcement to provide them with tools to understand and monitor these various threats while still protecting individual liberties.
And finally, in what is probably the largest and most difficult task, we need to repair our society so that we do not create these monsters to prey upon our children. We have a media that appeals to the egos of these killers with 24/7 press coverage after the killings. A culture that divides, technologies that isolate, and social media that amplifies extreme viewpoints where sick individuals can surround themselves with others of the same ilk in a digitally contrived echo chamber of groupthink.
In his article “Flashback 30 Years: Guns Were in Schools … and Nothing Happened” J. Christian Adams makes the salient observation that many high schools had gun ranges in the basements 30 years ago way back in 1985 and there were no school shootings. I am dating myself, but my high school had just such a range, and my friends and I brought our .22’s to school so we could participate in the Tuesday afternoon rifle club and outdo each other’s marksmanship in a friendly competition. We had fun, learned about marksmanship, firearms handling and safety, and nobody got hurt. Christian asks what has changed? And then by process of elimination, the final conclusion he draws is that our culture and society are the only variables that have changed since 1985. That conclusion is disturbing because I fear he is correct.
The Modern Sporting Rifles (MSR’s) aka “assault rifles” that are often singled out as “the culprit” for these mass shootings by gun control proponents first became commercially available in 1959 with the Colt AR-15. Colt had a monopoly on the design until 1977 when the patent expired and other manufacturers could copy the design. I recall talking with my friends about them in the 80’s and the common criticism of AR-15’s at the time was that they were mechanically unreliable. But then we also spent most of our time outside, had free reign of the neighborhood until the street lights came on in summer, enjoyed the freedom of having a bicycle (not a car) that allowed us to travel all over town without supervision. For the most part, we did not get into too much trouble. We had access to firearms and ammunition. It almost seems comical now but in the mid-80’s putting an unloaded shotgun on the top shelf of a closet, hidden under some blankets with the shells stored separately in the garage qualified as “safe gun storage.” Now we know better.
There is no magic law or silver bullet in the form of legislation that can change our society and the culture that produces these killers. This will be a long and difficult journey that will require deep introspection and hard work from all Americans, pulling together to reach a common goal. I am concerned we cannot engage into real conversation between people of goodwill but differing viewpoints without it degrading into a shouting match. I am skeptical we possess the national will to even embark on such a journey to heal our society, let alone possess the collective fortitude necessary to put in the work in to see it through to the end. I hope I am wrong. I fear I am right. Please prove me wrong.
We will keep the Florida shooting victims, their families and loved ones in our thoughts and prayers. We will hope for a speedy recovery for the shooting survivors. As events unfold we will monitor the story as more information becomes available.
Also, we know that the words above are meaningless unless we follow through with actions.
On our part we are putting our money where our mouth is:
First, we are announcing a national 20% discount on our CCW courses for teachers and school employees through September 30, 2018. Our goal is to get 10,000 school staff trained and certified across the country to help protect our children. If you are a school employee please go to www.mylegalheat.com/instructors to find out how to receive your promo code. If you know a school employee who might like to participate please share that website with them. Please note that different state laws vary widely regarding concealed carry in schools and on school grounds. In our classes, we will cover the laws in each state that teach in that relate to concealed carry on school grounds in that state.
Second, we are formally announcing our full and formal support for the National Shooting Sport Foundation’s Project ChildSafe. Project a national campaign to promote firearms safety in the home and especially with children. We will be promoting the project through our classes, social media, blogs, newsletters, and other available venues. We are also going to offer our students the opportunity to support and promote Project ChildSafe with each purchase on our website while offering them a discount on their classes.