The most recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida has taken the nation by surprise, and has everyone wondering how events like this continue to happen. Those on the left are quick to call this a symptom of America’s gun culture, but very few things are that simple. What’s loosely termed as America’s “gun culture” has existed since its founding. What’s new is how increasing numbers of young people are getting access to and using guns to do harm to others.
Dr. Darrin Porcher is a retired NYPD lieutenant and addresses this: “Gun control has been seen as a panacea to gun violence. This is a flawed monolithic strategy because it fails to attack the root causes of gun violence.” Porcher continued, “Gun control only targets law abiding citizens; however, criminals will always find a way to acquire weapons. Gun violence is a societal issue which requires a triangulation of education, mental health and socioeconomics.”
People know how to commit evil acts regardless of whether they have access to guns. I have a lot of thoughts about how we ended up in this situation. I could point to the number of dysfunctional families, the increasing numbers of unchurched people, the lack of prayer in schools, or a culture where parents permit their children to have violence and anger constantly in their faces in the form of video games, social media, YouTube and television shows.
However, this situation is different from past shootings of note. While the shooter is clearly to blame for his actions, some human and institutional error bear responsibility for the high death toll.
Porcher continues, “Immediately confronting the shooter minimizes the window for casualties. The shooter began his assault on the external grounds of the school. The security assigned to the front door should have immediately locked the door and called police. The Florida school shooting could have been minimized by simply closing and locking the front door of the school.”
“The FBI holds some level of responsibility in connection with the massacre. A tip was received in January from one of the shooter’s associates; however, the FBI’s complaint referral system failed the victims,” Porcher says. “Traditionally complaints come into the FBI’s call system and are farmed out to the FBI regional office. The tip should have immediately been sent to the Miami office for assignment to an agent. Unfortunately, this did not occur.”
Having recently returned from tactical active shooter training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, I know there are now different tactics taught when addressing an active shooter. Police officers are now expected to be more bold. Prior to the Columbine and Sandy Hook massacres, standard procedure in an active shooter situation was for the first officer on scene to set a perimeter and wait for SWAT to arrive. Now officers like myself are trained to go in to the building and eliminate the threat as quickly as possible, minimizing loss of life.
However, not all officers are getting this training. Communities are not addressing a real and growing threat with thought out solutions. Who is protecting the children? Are local officers trained in the most modern techniques for dealing with active shooters? As some communities are cutting the sizes of their police departments and budgets, how are they filling the gap?
Amy Benningfield, a deputy constable from the Houston, Texas area had this to say: “Unfortunately it’s come down to needing better security in schools, such as metal detectors.” Benningfield, who is also the mother of two young children continued: “Homeschooling is the best and safest option although not a realistic option for all families. However, teachers should be armed so they can protect their students, and we as parents need to give our kids info on how to protect themselves in these kinds of situations.”
There is merit to what Benningfield says. What people are quick to forget is that it is not the job of the police to provide personal protection. However, personal and group protection is available for a lot of members of American society. Politicians, office buildings, major sporting events, banks and jewelry stores are afforded protection, while the most innocent of those among us in society are left to the mercy of a sign that restates what the law abiding citizen already knows and has committed to — This is a gun free zone. Our children need more safety than a faded sign can provide.
America's Constable, Council Nedd, is an Anglican bishop in addition to serving as Pennsylvania State Constable. When he is not serving the members of St. Alban's Anglican Church, he can be found capturing fugitives or engaging his 40k Twitter followers.