we go again with yet another “national conversation” about guns
that is neither a conversation nor national. And not productive.
as with the Newtown, Conn., elementary school massacre in 2012,
the agonized outcries and visceral fears after the outrageous
Broward high school
deaths on Feb. 14 erupt from parents who entrust their most prized
treasures to a public school. The betrayal is horrendous. The
suffering unimaginable. And we flail around trying to find answers
for the unimaginable, the inexplicable, the unacceptable.
must be something we can do to prevent such awful events. There
is. We could have.
certain to hear much more of the tiresome, trite arguments from
all sides this week as the annual Conservative Political Action
Conference meets near Washington. You know, Second Amendment, our
blessed children, only government can do something, government has
no place, yada yada.
one needs a crystal ball to know what will come of all this:
Nothing. Same as after previous incidents.
a little more than five years ago to protect himself against
political backlash, President Obama handed the molten gun-control
debate to Vice President Joe Biden to honcho new restrictions
through Congress so school shootings would never happen again?
could do what Israel’s been doing in large schools for decades
after terrorists killed scores of children in an attack. Lock the
doors. Train and arm a few unidentified teachers to conceal-carry.
some new restrictions will be necessary. Recall after the even
worse mass shooting in Las Vegas last fall even the National Rifle
Association endorsed restrictions on the so-called bump stocks
that turned his long guns into virtual automatic weapons. What
happened after that “national conversation”?
until just this week when the president ordered a ban.
here’s a silly idea that doesn’t involve dramatic photo ops
outside the Capitol. It’s not something to fuel angry marches for
news cameras. Won’t fire up cable show bookers to get guests
arguing vehemently between the Pepcid and Cialis ads.
isn’t a game played out for anyone’s entertainment — or political
gain. Why don’t we try making all the existing enforcement and
preventive tools work — really work — before we slide routinely
into the comfortable, predictable and almost certainly
unproductive arguments about dubious news ones?
may sound unrewarding if you want to stay hysterical or score
political points. Congress members would have to give up
statements of rage when seemingly encountering reporters by
accident in Capitol hallways. And as tempting as it might be to an
impulsive president under FBI investigation, he’d have to forsake
self-serving tweet storms against that agency.
the goal is not just to score political points — how silly to even
mention such an outlandish idea these days, right? — but actually
to make such murderous mayhem less likely, it’s pretty smart to do
what you already can do legally. Try the obvious. It’s so crazy,
it might just work.
look at the Broward County tragedy with a touch of pragmatism:
This confessed killer had a long history of anti-social behavioral
problems and mental trouble. Sounds eerily familiar.
bless well-meaning foster parents for their dedication, charity
and hopes, but adults in the home are society’s early warning
radar. He was on strong medications. Good for him probably. But if
he’s still killing small animals for sport in an urban
environment, as neighbors report, there’s another red flag that
didn’t get waved.
been a long-time problem in high school such that it expelled him.
Red Flag. Not waving. And fellow students warned. Police visited
his home 39 times. 39 more flags.
talks about cancer in America. But mental health is touchy;
someone’s obvious maniac is another’s harmless crazy uncle. In
2016, the kid made a Snapchat video while cutting his arms and
announcing he was going to buy a gun.
state’s Department of Children and Families arranged a psychiatric
evaluation. Yes, he had the cuts and a swastika on his book bag.
But he was taking his meds on schedule and laws only allow holding
someone 72 hours. He was deemed not ready for hospitalization.
September, the FBI got a tip about a Nikolas Cruz vowing online he
was going to become a professional school shooter. Let’s be fair
here just for a sec: Law enforcement gets thousands of tips about
bad stuff. Most are bad tips. We only hear about ones that get
through the cracks.
FBI took a Russian tip and interviewed the Boston bombers. But did
nothing. Now it says it couldn’t find Nikolas Cruz. Seriously? Red
for a moment arguing whether any civilian outside the Middle East
needs such a weapon, this kid followed all existing rules and
laws. He passed the established background check. He purchased an
AR-15 and ammo and numerous magazines. Why? Because existing red
flags weren’t in the system.
January, on a government tip line a man told an FBI employee about
his friend’s behavior, gun and plans to shoot up a school. The tip
went nowhere. Seriously? Red flag waving. Also rockets going off.
9/11 and the after-report that found numerous little pieces of
separate suspicious planning on file that others knew nothing
everybody seems to know, we didn’t know,” said a bereaved foster
father. The same could be said for dozens of other people and
institutions along this latest lethal way.
what new law could make people do what they already can do but