By now, you’ve probably heard of what happened at a Parkland, Florida, high school. A former student, expelled for disciplinary reasons, apparently set off a fire alarm, then opened fire on students as they were leaving the building. This tragedy has left 17 dead as of this writing. What can we learn from this tragedy, like those in Paris and elsewhere?
One important lesson that we re-learn from past incidents is that while police, EMTs, and firefighters are brave and will do their best to protect a community, when something like this goes down, they are not the first responders – the people on the scene are. When seconds count, these first responders are minutes away. This doesn’t take anything away from their courage or willingness to serve the community, it’s just the facts. Assistant football coach Aaron Feis, who also served as a security guard, bravely put his body in front of students. Both the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI have information on what to do in these attacks. Get the best training and tools you can for you and your loved ones.
The second lesson: Gun-free zones don’t protect people from mass shooters. Instead, they simply serve as places where a terrorist or madman can rack up a high body count. When Israel faced terrorist attacks at schools, they provided armed security at the schools and allowed teachers to carry firearms as well. We’ll never know if Coach Feis could have stopped the shooter instead of just blocking bullets with his body, but his odds would have been much better, as this 2015 list of mass shootings stopped by an armed citizen shows. D.C.’s police chief in 2015 said people should try to take the gunman down. Well, maybe those folks should have more than their bare hands to do that.
The third lesson: When these shooters give off warning signs, act and report them. Students who talked to the media recalled people predicting that the gunman “would be the one to shoot up the school.” Yet there was no sign of any action beyond banning him from having a backpack on campus after he was threatening other students prior to his expulsion. The expulsion was arguably long overdue but should have been followed up with a police report. Calling law enforcement at the time of those incidents could have led to commitment for mental treatment, which would have made the shooter ineligible to purchase a firearm (he reportedly purchased the AR-15 he used legally).
This isn’t just something that matters for the security of a school or business establishment. For a private citizen, this paper trail can help you out in the aftermath of a situation where you are forced to use your Second Amendment rights to protect yourself. It will also help in other situations that are not as risky to your life but could be very risky for your reputation or livelihood.
Then again, it would be no guarantee. At least one report indicates a warning sent to the FBI in September 2017 wasn’t heeded. The shooter who carried out the horrific attack in Sutherland Springs, Texas, was supposed to be ineligible due to a domestic assault conviction, but the Air Force never got that information into the National Instant Check System. I can’t speak for anyone else, but screw-ups by government agencies that lead to these events do not warrant me surrendering any portion of my Second Amendment rights.
It only took hours for those who want to strip us of our Second Amendment rights to try to capitalize on this. Feinstein, who once said she wanted a complete ban – “Mr. and Mrs. America, turn them in” – is flogging her gun-ban legislation again. Celebrities like Kim Kardashian jumped in as well (even though the far-stricter gun control laws in France didn’t disarm the thugs who robbed her in Paris, nor did it stop the perpetrators of two significant terrorist attacks).
Not only are they demanding a ban on the AR-15 (in essence punishing millions of people who didn’t shoot up a school, mall, or movie theater) and other semi-auto rifles despite FBI stats showing that that rifles of all types are less likely to be used in murders than clubs or people’s own fist and feet, they are saying that those who have opposed gun control in the past are somehow complicit in this latest tragedy.
This takes us to one other important lesson Second Amendment supporters need to take to heart: The only person or persons responsible for these horrific acts are the perpetrator(s). Law-abiding citizens like yourself who have exercised their First Amendment rights in opposition to gun control by writing legislators, joining the NRA, talking with friends, or contacting the media (in other words, what Barney Frank described as “good, straight democracy”) do not have any culpability or complicity for this shooting or any other. And the NRA (as well as other gun-rights groups), by representing us, has done nothing to contribute to those shootings, either.
When gun control advocates claim that you are responsible because you don’t fall in line with whatever scheme they’ve put forth, they are engaging in a vicious combination of emotional manipulation and reputational blackmail to shame you into being silent as they try to take your rights away. Don’t let them succeed.