Another School Shooting: The Gun Violence/Mental Illness Debate Continues
In the aftermath of the Valentine's Day school shooting in Florida, I have read quite a number of articles, blogs and posts about the event. It is disturbing--and I think inexcusable--that many people take the opportunity to use horrible tragedies such as this to push their own particular agenda.
In particularly insensitive and tone-deaf tweet, conservative political commentator Tomi Lahren wrote: "Can the Left let the families grieve for even 24 hours before they push their anti-gun and anti-gunowner agenda? My goodness. This isn't about a gun it's about another lunatic."
Of course it's about mental illness. But it is also undeniably about gun control. Because a mentally ill person had open access to guns and no one stopped him, 17 people are dead: Young people with their lives ahead of them, their teachers and coaches.
These were lives senselessly lost in a tragedy that almost certainly could have and should have been prevented.
Rather than politicizing this and making it an "either-or," "left or right" issue, let's set politics aside and pick up our common humanity to discuss solutions--real solutions--to this ongoing problem so that we may prevent more tragedy and the further, needless loss of innocent lives.
And just to be clear for the sake of those that tend to see complex issues only in black and white: the call for gun control is NOT intrinsically "anti-gun" or an "anti-gunowner" agenda. It just isn't. Get over it.
Carly wrote to Lahren: "I was hiding in a closet for 2 hours. It was about guns. You weren't there, you don't know how it felt. Guns give these disgusting people the ability to kill other human beings. This IS about guns and this is about all the people who had their life abruptly ended because of guns."
On Wednesday afternoon, the students and faculty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida weren't concerned about politics. They were concerned about one thing: survival.
We must find ways to identify individuals with the potential for violence and both prevent them from obtaining weapons and/or take them away from them should such individuals already have them in their possession. This must be priority #1. Then, when the immediate threat is removed, we can begin to find ways to try to treat the underlying mental issues which cause some people to want to hurt others. We must accept the fact that some of these people will likely never be cured. They should never be allowed access to weapons of any sort. Never.
But this brings up another failure of our system: even when law enforcement and other authorities have been informed about potentially dangerous individuals, they often do nothing. Sadly the case of Nikolas Cruz gives ample proof of that.
Reportedly, law enforcement had been called to the Cruz’s home an astounding 39 times over a 7-Year Period (CNN: CBS Miami). Wow. Just Wow!
As reported yesterday in the NY Times, "The F.B.I. received a tip last month from someone close to Nikolas Cruz that he owned a gun and had talked of committing a school shooting." The bureau has both acknowledged that it received the tip and that it failed to investigate.
This is just not right.
In a recent statement in response to this school shooting, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said: "It has never been more important to encourage every person in every community to spot the warning signs and alert law enforcement. Do not assume someone else will step up -- all of us must be vigilant. Our children's lives depend on it."
That's great, assuming that law enforcement will actually DO something about the tips they receive.
As Florida Governor Rick Scott stated: “The FBI’s failure to take action against this killer is unacceptable. Seventeen innocent people are dead and acknowledging a mistake isn't going to cut it.”
Scott continued, “We constantly promote ‘see something, say something,’ and a courageous person did just that to the FBI, [but] the FBI failed to act. 'See something, say something' is an incredibly important tool and people must have confidence in the follow through from law enforcement."
We clearly cannot have confidence in "follow through from law enforcement." This is an area over which we the people and our elected representatives have control. This an area where change can be affected and it must be done so immediately. But it is not just the FBI, but all local and regional law enforcement agencies which need to step up and be proactive, not reactive, in this matter.
Lives depend on it.
Next time--and I hope there isn't a next time, but there almost surely will be--it could be your child, your sibling, your spouse or parent that is killed. It could even be you.
Does it have to come to that for all of us to be outraged?
Gun advocates will tell you that guns are for defense purposes. Obviously (to NRA members), defending yourself may require that you have tons of ammunition and dozens of automatic weapons. After all, we know that Armageddon is coming and having a hand gun is not going to be enough in those circumstances. Bunch of lefties, how dare they suggest to restrict having as many automatic weapons as I want and thousands of rounds of ammunitions. It's against the second amendment. (sarcasm, of course)
Oh I forgot the great and indisputable argument, buses can kill too! you know. Are you going to ban buses???
Never a jw, you raise some interesting points in your first post. I'm curious to see how other forum members will respond so I will refrain from comment for the time being.
But I will repeat this point for emphasis: Gun control does NOT equate to a gun ban. A call for the former is not a call for the latter.
Good points JP.
But this brings up another failure of our system is this: even when law enforcement and other authorities have been informed about potentially dangerous individuals, they often do nothing. Sadly the case of Nikolas Cruz gives ample proof of that
I have to say I am sorry to see the demonization of the FBI on this. Obviously they dropped the ball, and there needs to be an investigation, but I think some in the right have jumped on this because of the current political climate. Somehow the bureau is being portrayed as a left wing organization, which is ludicrous if you know anyone who actually works there, they tend to be quite conservative, like most law enforcement organizations everywhere.
The bureau gets hundreds of thousands of tips every year. With limited resources, they do a very good job of prioritizing and acting on the most urgent. Obviously there are going to be cases where they would have acted differently, had they known, Hindsight is 20\20 vision, as they say. If it's a case of ineptitude, let the chips fall where they may, but I personally know a few people in the bureau, they are all hard-working, patriotic and dedicated to fighting crime as best they can, nobody would knowingly ignore an obvious threat.
Like almost all governmental organizations, it's not as dynamic and quick to change as it could be and that needs to be fixed. It is very case oriented, attempts to be more intelligence driven (i.e. anticipating issues rather than reacting to them) do not go far enough, the culture is too entreched. I'd like to see this issue drive that, but I don't see that happening, instead of looks like they will probably replace the current director, which will do nothing but demoralize those who work there.
LR: I am sorry to see the demonization of the FBI on this.
Thanks Lisa for your response.
To be clear, I am most certainly NOT demonizing the entire FBI organization. I wouldn't even "demonize" the specific individuals that had be warned about Nikolas Cruz and failed to follow-up. But I do think we deserve an explanation. Don't you?
My quote, which you excepted, refers to "law enforcement" (LE) broadly. However, it is a fact that, in this particular instance, the FBI had been informed about Nikolas Cruz behavior and didn't act. It highlights a problem that must be addressed.
I agree with you that a resignation of the current FBI director is not a good solution. Heck, if you want to follow that practice to it's logical extreme then every US President should resign anytime a low ranking official makes even the most minor of mistakes or commits the smallest of misdeeds. Obviously, that's a dumb idea and I honestly don't know why people ever suggest it.
Nevertheless, all law enforcement agencies do need to improve their responsiveness to tips and be more proactive.
Maybe it would help if the public knew more about the tragedies that are prevented when LE gets it right!
Having limited resources is often a valid answer to failures of law enforcement, and yet the pro tax-cuts people will not even consider that as a possibility in this case. Don't assume that I am a "lefty"; that's far from the truth. I fit better with Libertarians than with any other group. I just find the Republican increasingly hypocritical. They dress themselves as the party of good old fashion Christian values, but I don't see that at all. Cutting taxes without cutting expenses burdens our children with a huge national debt. Neglecting doing something about climate change affects our children and grand children far more than it affects our own generation. And this business of relaxed gun control is having a much greater effect in the young than in the old. I would have assumed that Christian values meant to care for others, but the current generation of Republicans don't seem to be very inclined to the well being of coming generations.
I just saw this thought-provoking article on the subject in yesterday's Boston Globe:
WE KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT
Parkland. Las Vegas. Sutherland Springs. Newtown. On and on: In America, mass shootings have become so familiar that they seem to follow the same sad script.By Nestor Ramos, Globe StaffFebruary 16, 2018
He will be a man, or maybe still a boy.
He will have a semiautomatic rifle — an AR-15, or something like it— and several high-capacity magazines filled with ammunition.
The weapon will have been purchased legally, the background check no obstacle.
He will walk into a school, or a concert, or an office building.
And he will open fire into a crowd of innocents.
Even as he’s still firing — crack crack crack — word will begin to spread. Survivors huddled in closets or behind bandstands will send pictures, text messages, and videos into a world that is again aghast.
Televisions will play the videos recorded amid the carnage, the sound somehow worse than the images. The fear in the victims’ voices will be familiar, yet too potent — a sound outside the boundaries of our own empathy.
We will hear about the heroes: Teachers who barricaded their classrooms or threw themselves between their students and the gunfire; concertgoers who shielded strangers as bullets plowed into their backs.
And we will hear about him: He was strange and troubled and cruel to animals; he’d shown signs of mental illness; he lost his job; he beat his wife.
A chorus will rise to ask why anybody should own such a weapon, much less someone so obviously troubled; another chorus will accuse the first of politicizing tragedy. Some will point to the Second Amendment, and blame a lack of treatment for the mentally ill.
Politicians, and then the president, will emerge. Some will plead for new laws. More will ask only for thoughts and prayers. Some will not mention guns at all.
Any promises will be broken. Beyond the shattered orbit of the school or church or concert that became a shooting gallery, the whole thing will recede too soon into memory.
And then it will all happen again.
Whoever he is, he may already have the rifle. And he will follow the script.
So will we.
There are only three things we don’t know about the next time:
WHO, WHERE, AND HOW MANY?
Never_A_JW » You're overstating what gun advocates say. The Second Amendment doesn't directly have anything to do with personal self defense. (Neither does it have anything to do with hunting.) The Second Amendment is all about having the American people armed in the event of an oppressive government. This is one reason that Hillary Clinton and the Deep State want so desperately to disarm the American people. They cannot put into place their agenda if the People are armed.
Advocates of gun control want to outlaw AR-15s because they've been used in high profile crimes (but not crimes in general). Only in high profile shootings. But if we banned AR-15s, the shooters will get Ruger Mini-14s, and so it goes. In all of these shootings, the people who should have protected us at some point dropped the ball.
We know Hillary put a great emphasis on disarming the American people. The question is, WHY? Hillary has never put her concern for others high on her agenda. Her agenda is always self-centered. So why did she place disarmament so high on that agenda? It had to do with her own interests, and make no mistake, she was dead serious about it, even going so far as to planning on how to implement it once she was in office.
The Second Amendment was put into place to protect the people from would be tyrants like Hillary. And I've heard people say, "What could a bunch of people with AR-15s and other semi-automatics do against the military if there ever was martial law? Actually, quite a bit, especially with the number of veterans in the U.S. today.
Whatever the reason, the Second Amendment is law. The states can implement their own gun laws, but the Constitution specifically prohibits the federal government from regulating or "infringing" in any way "arms." And the very term has nothing to do with hunting. The founders put a very high emphasis on both national defense and self defense.
In the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II, a small number of handguns wreaked havoc with the German sentries. The Ghetto was later subdued, but at great cost to the Germans. Handguns were easily concealed and the Jews were able to pop off a number of the sentries assigned to the Ghetto.