Posts Tagged ‘Safety’

Why Mass Shootings Continue

Monday, February 26th, 2018


In the wake of the Parkland, Florida shooting of February 14th, many people have offered their own assessments of why these sorts of incidents continue to happen.  They appear in media to tell us that “something must be done,” or that “something has to change.”  Few of them offer any but superficial remedies, but sadly, many people fall for this nonsense, uncritically believing their passion rather than questioning either the concrete concepts involved,  or because they conceptually don’t bother and just wish the human suffering they’ve witnessed to end.  In part, this is understandable, and I could forgive the general lack of detailed understanding, but because this blind spot is exploited to strip law-abiding Americans of their liberty, I simply won’t tolerate these senseless exclamations to go unanswered any longer. On this site, I’ve gone to great pains to explain the technical aspects of the firearms, and the philosophical aspects of the foundations of our law, including what constitutes a right.  I realize this site is not the most highly trafficked destination on the Internet, but for all the howling lunatics who insist that we can “fix this” by banning guns, or by background checks, or by any other simple solution, let me state it succinctly: We will never eliminate the phenomenon of mass shooting entirely, but neither will we significantly reduce it if we ignore the question: “Whose job is it to protect our children?”

Let us start with a few facts that most people seem to disregard on their way to blaming all the wrong things, and permitting all the wrong things to continue.  Let’s focus on the shooting of Parkland, Florida as the exemplar of this type of event.  In the lead-up to this event, the FBI had at least two leads, one called in by a bail-bondsman, that was a little less specific, but also somebody closer to the shooter called in a solid tip on this shooter in January, contending he was going to “explode.”  A PDF of the full transcript of this call was posted by the NYTimes.  It’s astonishing how specific the information was, and more astonishing that the FBI didn’t act.

Local police had dealt with him in at least thirty-nine documented calls for service(mostly 9-1-1 calls.) The school had continuously wrestled with this kid in an ever-escalating series of incidents including assaults, fights, and terroristic threats, culminating in his eventual expulsion.  There were countless “red flags” about this wayward soul.  His classmates even half-joked about him becoming a school shooter, and ironically, they may have even unintentionally implanted in him the idea.  It should have been clear by the time he entered high school that he did not belong in the mainstream school population, but today’s education fads make it difficult to remove a troubled youngster.  All of the aggregated incompetence of individuals in the system, and the oppressive bureaucracy itself could not avoid producing the result of February 14th.  It’s baked into the cake.

Given all the failures in advance of the event, it was almost inevitable that this event was going to happen.  All that could now change would be the number of dead, and the result was dominated again by the incompetence of individuals as well as the bureaucracies involved.  Let us start with Deputy Scot Peterson, the sole School Resource Officer on the campus at the time the shooting commenced.  Peterson had been with the Broward Sheriffs Office going back to 1985, and thirty-three years later, and apart from the shooter himself, he would come to be the person most instrumental in the final body count.  He arrived outside the building less than a minute after the shooting had commenced, and there he waited, effectively seeking cover, but taking no remedial actions of any kind.  Even as he was joined by additional deputies, Peterson did not rally them to make entry and confront the shooter.  They simply waited for the shooting to stop. How many were shot and killed or bled out for lack of medical attention or simple first aid while Deputy Peterson did nothing?  A time-syncronized analysis of the various surveillance tapes might provide that answer, or at least a reasonable approximation of it, but Sheriff Scott Israel, the highly political head of the Broward Sheriffs Office, will likely do all in his power to prevent the disclosure or obfuscate any analysis that may ever be done.  You can’t be permitted to know, but most importantly, the people who lost loved-ones in this shooting must never be permitted to know lest there erupt some sort of popular lynching of the Sheriff and his deputies.  While the word “disgrace” doesn’t cover it, it is nevertheless disgraceful. The bulk of the media is covering for him, of course, and this is why the underlying dereliction was mostly covered-up until the end of the week and the gun control narrative had been thoroughly seeded. Imagine the complete arrogance it takes to make the statement Sheriff Israel offers in the video clip below:

In for a penny, in for a pound.

It is at this point that something of an outrage erupts over the conduct of Deputy Peterson and his fellow officers, as well as the attempt to cover this up by Sheriff Israel, including his public attempts to deflect criticism onto the NRA.  The problem is that when all the outrage dies down, Israel and his deputies will have gotten away with it, as will the incompetent school, the incompetent FBI.  Their defenses will be their incompetence.  You can already hear it from their shills. “We’re too few, we have too little money, we have to few people, we didn’t know, and it’s the guns!”  What they won’t highlight, but I’m going to tell you, is the thing they don’t dare say in plain language to the ears of a listening world:

“It isn’t our job!”

Indeed, Sheriff Israel tells us that it’s his job to hire, train, and arm his deputies, but once they’re in the field, it isn’t his responsibility with respect to what they do as individuals.

Technically, they’re right: It isn’t their job to protect anybody.  It isn’t the school’s job, and it isn’t the job of police. It isn’t the job of the FBI or social workers or any other person even tangentially-related to this even, except: All the adults who were themselves the victims, or whose children were victims.

I know I will immediately face the angry roar of the crowd for having said this, but let me assure you that it is one-hundred percent accurate.  In more cases than can be listed here, time after time, courts have held that the only person with an affirmative duty to protect any person from harm is that person.  This duty cannot ultimately be delegated for a myriad of logical reasons. I learned this lesson the hard way back in the 1990s, when our own daughter entered Middle School.  It has always been my admonishment to her that she must never threaten violence, nor enact any, except in direct and immediate response to a physical attack upon her person.  On that point, I further explained that she had a duty to defend herself if she were ever to come under attack.  It goes almost without saying that she eventually crossed paths with a bully, older, and much larger, who attacked her in the hallway of the school, and when she rose in her own defense, perhaps feebly to scale of the task before her, by the rules of the school, which had adopted a “Zero Tolerance Policy” on school violence, she was as guilty as her attacker, and issued the same suspension. This is done by school districts so as to indemnify themselves against civil claims, but it provides no effective protection to anybody.

After several arguments, often heated, with faculty and administrators of the school and the district, we withdrew our daughter from that school in order to home-school her, because the school would not admit that she had a right to defend herself against physical attack, and because they would not assume liability for any future attacks.  In essence, they said that protecting our child against physical violence “isn’t our job.”  The question they refused to answer in light of that assertion was: “Who is liable to protect my child from physical violence?”  No affirmative answer, but only: “Not us.

One might read that and think that perhaps the school isn’t liable in any legal or financial sense, but that they must have some moral obligation to protect our children.  The courts are concerned solely with the law.  The subjective notions of morality we may hold are not their affair.  The same is true of the police.  Yes, they are supposed to stop criminals, detain and arrest criminals, thereby preventing them from committing further crimes.  What they do not have is a duty to protect you. On this matter, the Supreme Court has repeatedly held this to be the case.  Logically, it makes sense on even the most simplified basis: In order to carry out a theoretical duty to protect all people at all times, there would need to be a policeman standing guard over each of us twenty-four hours per day.  The most economical way to do this would be a prison, for all of us, including the police, who would need guards of their own.  The point is that there can be no affirmative duty to protect you or your children against every or even any conceivable harm.  It’s not possible.  This is why we withdrew our daughter from school.  We ultimately moved out of that district to a home in a vastly different district where we felt the level of risk, while still higher than we would like, was much reduced.  The school still could not (and would not) guarantee to protect our child, but the general environment was more conducive to her average condition of safety.

What does this have to do with Parkland, Florida?  Nearly every parent knows this, but pretends not to know it.  Ask any parent “whose job is to protect your children?” You would think the answer to the question would be self-evident and immediately proclaimed, but it isn’t. This same thing is true when you ask parents: “Who is responsible to educate your child?”  Or: “Whose has a duty to feed(or cloth or house or treat) your child?” Ask these questions and watch the expression on parents’ faces as they try to explain how somebody other than themselves is obligated to do all of these things.  Only honest parents will answer in all these cases: “It’s my job.”  That’s right, and it’s the only answer to any such question.

The truth is that only parents have the responsibility to protect their children against all comers. The schools know this.  The police know it.  Every department of government knows it.  The well-worn motto “…to protect and serve…” is merely a public relations pitch.  Once you understand that only you have responsibility to protect yourself and your children, we can begin to think about these mass shootings in a different light, and it immediately calls into question the whole notion of “gun free zones.”

In a “gun free zone,” under punishment of law, you are forbidden from bearing arms for any reason.  Put in other terms, what this really means is that in a “gun free zone,” you are prohibited from effective self-defense.  Much like my daughter in the school with a “zero tolerance policy,” to provide for your own defense is a crime.  When you deposit your child into one of these “gun free zones,” you have sent them into an environment where only the predators will be armed, because the predators do not regard the law as any obstruction, and they view the obstruction to law-abiding folks as an invitation to the mayhem they intend.

One of the reasons we have such large schools is for the apparent economies of scale, but such concentrations of people are inviting targets for the sort who intend massive carnage. This has always concerned me with respect to our schools, because any madman, intent on devastation, could exploit this large aggregation of our children, who we profess to be the most valuable extensions of our lives.  The truth is that the only way to stop people with guns is to confront them with guns.  All of the rest is nonsense, and as I have explained, the next school shooter is already out there.

The most pressing reason we won’t likely stop the next mass shooter is because we refuse to assign blame.  Everybody is happy to point at the killer, but people generally look for some larger reason.  The scale of the tragedy and the enormity of the human loss and suffering begs us to empathize with the victims and their loved-ones, and well we should, but we must not lose sight of the totality of this problem, requiring of us a clear-eyed assessments to come to the truth.  Let’s list them:

Let’s think of all the ways in which this shooting might have been avoided:

  • The FBI might have followed up on one or both of the tips they received
  • The school might have sought to press charges on Cruz when he committed previous acts of violence on their campus
  • The local Law Enforcement might have sought to press charges

Let’s be plain-spoken about this: If any of these entities had acted appropriately, Cruz would have been charged with felonies on multiple previous occasions, including assault with a deadly weapon(or whatever equivalent charge exists in Florida) and this would have prohibited him from purchasing a weapon.  The NICS system doesn’t magically know that some people shouldn’t have weapons.  That information has to be placed into the database.  As we saw with the shooter at Sutherland Springs, Texas church shooter, the Air Force failed to put information into the system about the shooter, permitting him to purchase firearms.  In the Parkland, Florida case, neither the school nor the law enforcement agencies ever created the paper trail that would have been entered into the database to prohibit Cruz from obtaining firearms.

This leads us to a very uncomfortable place, which is the reason guns are being blamed and the National Rifle Association is being blamed.  You see, all of the institutions named above have made quite sure they cannot be blamed, and that none among them will be held culpable, in any respect whatever.  We might become angry and claim they had “a moral responsibility to…” act or intervene or otherwise mitigated this circumstance, but the truth is that our outrage doesn’t constitute an enforceable legal claim.

I’m going to say the thing that will be most unpopular, and will cause many to heap disdain upon me, but it’s nevertheless true:  Every parent of every child enrolled in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (and indeed in every public school anywhere) knew or ought to have known all the facts outlined above long before the attack of February 14th. If they found these facts unacceptable, (and I certainly would have,) they had a responsibility to get their children out of that environment.  You might say that they had no choice but to enroll their kids in that school.  While I understand the practical arguments, I thoroughly disagree in an absolute sense, inasmuch as they are the parents, and they could move to another district, act to change that district, home-school their children, or enroll their children in other schools at their own expense.  Contextually, the tax-payers of any school district are held at gun-point to pay for that school system and in this case, for that worthless Sheriffs Office, and that is as much an indictment of our entire system as anything else.  It is said that we “get the government we deserve,” and this is equally true of schools and sheriffs.

What I would say to parents who truly wish to protect their children is to familiarize themselves with the facts variously described above.  They should inform themselves of the policies at their schools, and make their choices accordingly.  What I can say without reservation on this date is that I am unaware of a single public school in any jurisdiction, anywhere in the country, to which I would entrust the safety of my children.  To my knowledge, none of them can be trusted to provide for student safety, and none of them really want that responsibility.  You will naturally find a number of teachers who would accept that responsibility, but they are hamstrung by worthless bureaucracies, foolish unions and professional associations, and in many jurisdictions, the law.

If a teacher tells you that they are unwilling to be armed in defense of their students, what they are really saying to you is that they are not to be trusted with your children, because they don’t wish to take on the responsibility of protecting the lives of your children.

Period. End. Fin!

Everything they might say after that is merely a load of excuse-making, and largely ideologically driven.  Besides, apart from contraindicating physical disabilities, how competent is any adult who cannot(or will not) be trained to proficiency with a concealable firearm?  Should any person lacking that basic competence be permitted access to your children for any purpose?  I say “No.”

Where do we start?  We need people to answer honestly the simple question: “Who is responsible for the safety of my children?” Once you reduce that question to its irreducible constituents, the answer is all too plain.  “Something must change!”  Indeed, and what that something is must be that parents must reassert their responsibility for the lives and safety of their children.  When they do that, nearly all the school shootings will cease, and even when they do occur, there will be provisions in place to effectively defend against them.