Once again, our nation is shocked and saddened with news of the mass shooting that occurred at a bar in Thousand Oaks, California.
Every time that I hear news like this, it feels like a punch in the gut. I salute the brave officer who lost his life trying to stop the gunman. It has become all too familiar to hear of these terrible tragedies, especially when it seems that most of the victims were young college students enjoying a night of music and friendship. When Americans hear of senseless murders committed in schools, houses of worship, concerts and restaurants, it seems like there is no safe place. No one wants to see their fellow citizens killed, and everyone can agree that there must be some action taken to prevent these mass shootings from happening.
All too often, while everyday Americans are still reeling from this awful blow, activists from both sides of the spectrum are quick to speak up and bring politics into the conversation. As a former Law Enforcement Officer and Security Expert with nearly 50 years of experience, I can categorically state that safety and security should not be a political issue.
Early reports indicate that the gunman was a military veteran and used a legally purchased weapon. However, he did use a high-capacity magazine — which is banned in the state of California. It also seems like the gunman had several interactions with police, including a domestic violence call where a mental health crisis team stated he didn’t need to be taken into custody. California has Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO) laws where guns can be taken from homes where there is a mental health and domestic violence risk — why wasn’t one used in this case?
There are still severe gaps in the dissemination of intelligence regarding potential high-risk individuals. In the aftermath of many shootings hindsight reveals numerous incidents that should have been red flags but were ignored. We need to have better cooperation between law enforcement, the courts, mental health professionals and the community to ensure that individuals who exhibit irrational behavior are examined. At the very least, even if the person harbors no ill intentions, they could get the help they need.
While we don’t yet know the motives and we don’t have a clear picture of the gunman’s mental health, it is a sad fact that many of our nation’s veterans are suffering from PTSD or other mental health issues. Modern medicine has advanced in amazing ways, and wounds that may have killed a member of our armed forces in the past can now be treated and healed. On the other hand, we still do not have a comprehensive strategy to deal with the psychological and emotional wounds that many service members incur. I have heard from many active duty troops and veterans that seeking help for mental health issues is stigmatized by their commanding officers. This is simply unacceptable. We need to address this and take better care of our vets; it is the least we can do for those who are brave enough to fight and put their lives on the line for our nation.
The debate over gun control and gun rights can rage forever. I’m not a politician, but I am a safety expert. It is imperative that all venues open to the public conduct security assessments and identify risk. I’m not saying that every church and restaurant needs to have x-ray machines and metal detectors, and I’m certainly not saying that we should arm waitstaff in restaurants. But there are ways to address vulnerabilities and mitigate potential attacks.
May God comfort those dealing with this tragedy.
Richard “Bo” Dietl (@BoDietl) was a New York City police officer and detective for 16 years. He served as co-chairman of the National Crime Commission under President George H.W. Bush and chairman of the New York State Security Guard Advisory Council under Govs. George Pataki and Elliot Spitzer. Since 1985 he has been CEO of Beau Dietl & Associates, an investigative and security firm.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.