“Explanations exist; they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong.” — H. L. Mencken, twentieth-century journalist, satirist, social critic, cynic and freethinker
Like many of our Santa Clarita Valley neighbors, my family and I were horrified by the recent mass murders at a high school in Florida.
My wife and I have three sons currently attending college in Southern California and as parents, we’re naturally concerned about school and community safety.
I’ve written on the topic of gun violence in The Signal previously and make it a practice to not react to the news cycle until the arrival of verifiable facts from multiple sources.
Now that details are available, here’s a brief summary of known facts related to this homicidal attack:
- Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School had expelled the former student for violent behavior and school ground weapons violations.
- Local law enforcement had made dozens of in-person responses to residences/locations of the shooter prior to the attack.
- A recommendation that the perpetrator be involuntarily committed for a psychiatric evaluation that was decided against because the Sheriff’s School Resource Officer withdrew his support.
- The FBI had received a credible tip from a relative of the shooter detailing threats of armed assault. Another tip was received based on a comment made on a YouTube video, stating the attacker wish to become a “professional school shooter.”
- The FBI has advised it did not follow established protocols on the tips received and did not make a referral to the Miami Field Office to follow up.
- The assigned Broward County Sheriff’s SRO and 3 other deputies remained outside the campus perimeter while the murders were occurring.
Any objective review of these facts reveals a systemic breakdown of school administration communication and cooperation with local law enforcement compounded by failure at the Federal level.
Had government acted in these multiple red flag instances, it’s highly probable the mass homicide would have been prevented.
Curiously, the news cycle hasn’t been primarily focused on these government failures and the non-enforcement of extant law, i.e., arrest of those who present credible threats of violence and confiscation of weapons in their possession.
Ask yourself: what’s the probability that teenage survivors, understandably distraught and traumatized, would be capable within a week of the attack to initiate the necessary media contacts and build out of an organizational structure to orchestrate a national protest?
Isn’t it rational to conclude they’re being orchestrated by media producers and other organizations with political objectives?
Subsequently, we’ve read or heard other school news about a backpack explosive device, a mass knife attack and a school shooter who was disrupted by an armed School Safety Officer.
Despite these disparate means of attack, the primary focus remains on banning firearms and raising age limits rather than actual measures that will increase school safety.
Responsible law-abiding gun owners are assured time and again, “We’re not after your guns.”
Contrary to these assertions, House Democrats with over 150 signatories introduced a bill prohibiting sale of semi-automatic weapons, the overwhelming choice of Americans who choose to purchase firearms.
When a DUI driver causes fatalities, we properly ascribe blame to the person engaged in criminal behavior, not the automobile.
I’d posit Federal, state and local law enforcement need to develop a robust tip reporting system that the average person in a community could understand and access.
Such a system would provide legal immunity for the concerned citizen and have a rigorous process, metrics and resolution reporting by the controlling law enforcement agency with an audit trail.
Schools should review physical barriers and restricted access points that aren’t easily breached by unauthorized persons.
Additionally, the president should order compliance for military NICS reporting.
Congress should also examine ways to standardize as well as give incentives to states that report prohibited person data to NICS—with due process for those reported in error by an independent court unaffiliated with any Executive Branch agency.
I’m not a legal expert, but it appears none of the above would infringe on the Constitutionally recognized rights of law-abiding citizens.
Let’s have an authentic conversation within our community about solutions that have proven efficacy in our schools.
Ron Bischof is a Santa Clarita resident.