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In the wake of the Parkland school shootings, the Left has gone into overdrive–its default mode these days–pushing for more gun control. Any gun control, apparently, as I haven’t seen any proposals emerge that are new, or that would have prevented the Parkland murders.
Ironically, the facts that have come out about Parkland and Nikolas Cruz do point the way toward possible reforms. But they lie in the realms of law enforcement and mental health, not more controls on firearms. The FBI has already admitted that it dropped the ball by not following up–not adhering to its own procedures, in fact–when it received a warning that Cruz was a potential mass murderer. Locally, law enforcement responded to his home on 39 occasions, and fellow students described him by saying, “Like if there was someone to shoot up a school, it would be him.” Cruz wrote multiple times on social media, and apparently told everyone who would listen, that he aspired to be a school shooter.
After all of this, nothing was done. To be fair, though, what should have been done? Even if the FBI had followed up properly, what could they have done other than interview Cruz? In the U.S., the standard for involuntary commitment is very high. There was no serious likelihood that someone like Nikolas Cruz would be locked away for the rest of his life, for fear that he may act on his expressed desire to be a mass murderer. Maybe this should change, but many on the Left (and right, for that matter) would fight dramatic expansion of involuntary commitment for mental illness on civil rights grounds.
Instead of addressing these mental health and law enforcement issues intelligently, the Left has peddled misleading statistics and outright lies in order to push its anti-gun narrative. CBS News, for example, absurdly claimed that it is easier to buy an “assault rifle” in Florida than to buy cold medicine:
Is CBS News seriously unaware that you have to pass a federal background check to buy a gun? Unlike cold medicine? I assume they do know better, and are just lying to promote their agenda.
Similarly, multiple bogus “statistics” about the frequency of school shootings have been peddled relentlessly. James Fox at USA Today does a good job of debunking them:
We were informed, for example, that since 2013 there has been an average of one school shooting a week in the U.S., and 18 since the beginning of this year. While these statistics were not exactly lies or fake news, they involved stretching the definition of a school shooting well beyond the limits of most people’s imagination. *** Nearly half of the 290 were completed or attempted suicides, accidental discharges of a gun, or shootings with not a single individual being injured. Of the remainder, the vast majority involved either one fatality or none at all. *** Since 1990, there have been 22 shootings at elementary and secondary schools in which two or more people were killed, not counting those perpetrators who committed suicide.
Whereas five of these incidents have occurred over the past five-plus years since 2013, claiming the lives of 27 victims (17 at Parkland), the latter half of the 1990s witnessed seven multiple-fatality shootings with a total of 33 killed (13 at Columbine).
In fact, the 1997-98 school year was so awful, with four multiple-fatality shooting sprees at the hands of armed students (in Pearl, Miss.; West Paducah, Ky.; Jonesboro, Ariz.; and Springfield, Ore.), that then-President Clinton formed a White House expert committee to advise him.
If better security is needed at public schools, let’s have better security. But I don’t see anyone on the Left talking about that, just as no one on the Left seems to be talking about failures of law enforcement or our mental health system.
The problem of attacks on schools by crazy and/or evil people goes back a long way. The worst attack on a school in our history occurred in Bath, Michigan in 1927. Andrew Kehoe–a school board member!–killed 44 people, including 38 children. He didn’t use a gun, however. He used a bomb made from dynamite and shrapnel.