The way that lawmakers, a lot of social media, and those in popular media have been responding to the recent Parkland shooting in Florida, should tell you quite a bit about what their intentions are. The hashtag #GunControlNow is trending, and it seems many are of the thought that the only way that we can honestly approach dealing with situations like these is to clamp down on gun control.
While I understand why people are upset, passionate, and deeply concerned in how to move forward in a time such as this, I do wish that we would step away and get our fingers away from the “lawmaking” buttons and levers in times of emergency. There’s a lot of information out there as it pertains to situations such as these. There is a lot of alarming data involved. The rate of mass shootings in America is high, there is no denying that. It’s a problem, and it’s something that is very hard to solve for.
The shooter was a known violent liability.
Before we dig into my suggestions of how we can move forward, let’s look at the facts (involving what we know now and knew before the shooting) that we have available at the moment:
- The shooter had a history of violence
- The shooter had a history of threats toward other students
(At one point he was banned from bringing a backpack to school due to safety concerns from threats and behavior, and he was eventually expelled for the same reasons)
- The shooter was obsessed with firearms and made it very obvious on his social media accounts.
- There have been multiple reports stating teachers and students that had were not at all shocked this individual ended up engaging in this kind of behavior and noted Cruz to be obviously unstable.
- The FBI was warned about this individual possibly threatening a school shooting back in September.
By scanning this list along and not clicking through to the related stories it’s quite obvious that there was a warning sign or two that existed about this individual. The next question is what can we do about it? Often people will immediately jump to some sort of solution that involves a utilitarian hard-lined choice to be made out of two available options; Do we (1) infringe on the rights of a proposed threat who has not yet committed any crimes as a way of prevention, or do we (2) just do nothing and let this individual go by doing as he wishes until he finally decides to open fire on a school and take innocent lives?
Have we got to a point as a society where someone can honestly look at those two options and not question the existence of any other path toward competent problem-solving measures? I find the sheer fact that society is so blindly following this narrative of available solutions nothing short of terrifying, as it shows just how intellectually shallow and daft we’ve become.
Let’s perhaps reshape the way we’re looking at this from a problem-solving standpoint. Let’s say you are a homeowner. You, the homeowner, have a history of an individual who has a propensity for speaking out about appreciating violent behavior. This individual has a violent past, where there are accounts of physical abuse to other individuals. You’d had this individual in your home before, and you had to first insist this individual could no longer bring bags into your home where weapons could potentially be concealed. Law enforcement and the other people residing in your home had warned you about this individual making comments that he had intended to come to your home and shoot the people that lived within it.
In this situation, if we’re taking the same mentality that is being espoused all over the internet and in conversations everywhere following this shooting, then we are to believe we have two options:
1) Implement restrictions on the rights of every human being in the nation that surrounds you (as stated by the Constitution) as a way of ensuring that your home won’t have to deal with the possibility of the threat of violence.
2) Nothing at all.
Anyone who would honestly look at those choices as being feasible options toward protecting their family, or property, is completely delusional. I don’t think there’s anyone at all who would disagree.
At what point does this approach become something that people can treat as ridiculous as it actually is. And at what point can we treat protecting educators and our children the same way we would protect our homes? Why is the idea of security measures and defense for a school something that very few take the time to seriously consider when we have incident after incident where individuals are targeting schools for violent acts?
And why is everyone so insistent on handing over something so important to individuals who have proven time and time again they are not capable? At what point do members of a community come together to protect and defend educators and children within their own community? Instead, everyone is quick to pound the table for more laws and more restrictions on rights, despite unsuccessful attempts to use such mechanisms.
What would you prefer? A place of education where your children were protected and defended? Or a place of education where if someone with violent tendencies were to attack, your children were defenseless and unprotected? I believe this is a fairly obvious answer for most, yet this approach hasn’t been one I’ve seen discussed anywhere on this topic. If we are to look at this objectively it’s clear that despite regulations or laws these issues continue to occur. 98% of mass public shootings that had taken place from 1950 through 2016, took place in “Gun-free zones.” If legislating our way to safety was an option, statistics like this would not exist. Cruz was reported to authorities for making threats about shooting up a school, to no avail. And let’s not forget that in November last year, the regulatory error on behalf of the state led to an individual being able to legally purchase weapons needed to act out a violent shooting spree at a church in Texas. When we are not able to competently prevent violent situations from occurring with the current regulations and laws we have in place, why should we assume further attempts at regulation and litigation will be effective? Criminals who desire weapons to commit crimes will find ways to obtain weapons to commit crimes regardless of legal precedent. Regulating and legislating away individual rights to own weapons as self-defense only further puts the law-abiding citizen at a disadvantage.
Just look at the way people discuss the mental health issue whenever these situations occur. The conversation is never to address the mental health issues in terms of how mental health is evaluated and treated in the medical industry. Instead, the popular first instinct for conversation is to try and compile lists of people with mental health issues and restrict their rights to self-defense. This much is clear when one is to examine the methods used by the Obama administration in an attempt to address the topic.
Pictures like the one above get shared all over the internet as people cling to the idea that legislation is the only way to make sure anyone can be protected while ignoring that legislation is currently in place to attempt to ensure these situations don’t happen, and it is failing. This image mash-up is meant to be an “ah-ha” proving that Trump means none of what he says, but in reality, the “ah-ha” is on those sharing it, assuming they have a coherent argument to be made. There are other ways to prevent situations that do not involve sweeping legislation that removes constitutional rights from the individuals of this country. One can make a statement that they believe notifying law enforcement of potential threats is a good idea, without inferring that they need to be answered with federal legislation and regulation.