“But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants is the liberty of appearing.” — Thomas Paine, Founder, philosopher, political theorist and revolutionary
In a recent column published Thursday, March 29, local CAUP25 political activist and entertainment writer Anthony Breznican used the media gimmick of making an accusation in a headline that my column stated the Parkland students were “fakes, actors” while later in the column he clarifies that I, in fact, did not do so.
He goes on to list some absurd conspiracy theories and then attempts a fallacious guilt by association.
It was an amusing bit of performance art that failed to address the serious substance of my column.
In my professional experience, I’ve managed multiple teams on global projects at the Fortune 500 multinational level and am, therefore, familiar with the significant logistical challenges of preparation and execution on that scale.
With that context, asking a question about the probability of traumatized students within a week of the attack initiating media contacts and organizational structure to coordinate a national protest is a fair one that was unanswered in Mr. Breznican’s polemic.
The Parkland students aren’t monolithic in their opinions and others haven’t received as much media attention.
For example, Marjory Stoneman junior Kyle Kashuv has met with the president, vice president and members of Congress to advocate for increased school safety funding and fixes in reporting to the the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, to prevent criminals and the mentally ill from purchasing firearms legally.
Those efforts to fund school safety and the Fix NICS Act were successfully passed in the recent 2018 Omnibus spending bill signed by the president.
Additionally, a USA Today/Ipsos poll was conducted subsequent to the Parkland attack. For the poll, 1,112 young people were interviewed between March 14 and 20. The groupings consisted of 605 people who were ages 13-17 and 507 aged 18-24.
When asked, “Do you think tightening gun control laws and background checks will prevent more mass shootings in the United States?” 47 percent of the 13-17 and 54 percent of the 18-24 respective cohorts responded affirmatively.
This underscores a range of opinions that exist on a complex topic that can’t be reduced to simplistic talking points.
Also unaddressed was the primary substance of my column, i.e., the systemic dysfunction of government—specifically school administrators, mental health counselors and the Broward County Sheriff’s Department and FBI failing to protect the students from the homicidal attack.
The lack of intellectual curiosity about the root causation of the fatalities demonstrated by Mr. Breznican is puzzling.
Perhaps he’ll focus on school safety rather than politicking in a future column.
Alson, in another op-ed published last week, Jess Phoenix, Congressional Candidate for District 25, wrote this:
“Since 1994, when the Republican-controlled Congress stripped gun research funding from the Centers for Disease Control, our nation’s top research organization has been unable to investigate the root causes of gun violence.”
That’s a misrepresentation of the Dickey Amendment contained in the 1996 Omnibus spending bill. As a scientist who claims to desire data, Ms. Phoenix’s research missed the mark on the actual content.
The amendment instead states “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”
It’s an important distinction and there’s nothing in the provision that restricts the CDC from conducting research into “root causes of gun violence.”
In fact, the CDC funded such research in 2013 and their own study in 2015.
More recently, the Omnibus spending bill just passed by Congress contains language in a report accompanying the legislation that clarifies that the CDC can, in fact, conduct research into gun violence.
I hope Ms. Phoenix doesn’t repeat this again on the stump. It’s wrong on the facts and a scientist should alter or discard an inaccurate hypothesis when new correcting data is received.
I’m encouraged by the local recent school safety discussions and actions taken by our local school districts in consultation with our Sheriff’s Department professionals.
Those substantive actions to protect our children and community are worthy of our support.
Ron Bischof is a Santa Clarita resident.