Tags: parkland | shooting | gun debate

How Do We Prevent Another Parkland?

Image: How Do We Prevent Another Parkland?
Police officers stand in front of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as students arrive to attend classes for the first time since the shooting that killed 17 people on February 14 at the school on February 28, 2018, in Parkland, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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Friday, 02 March 2018 02:51 PM Current | Bio | Archive

In the aftermath of another school shooting, we are in danger.

Not physical danger, since crime is at historically low levels, and the odds of a shooting at your child’s school is infinitesimally low.

The danger is much more profound: desensitization.

When experiencing something for the first time, we feel the most emotion. But the more it occurs, the more we succumb to desensitization that accompanies routineness.

We aren’t quite at the point of: “Oh, another school shooting? That’s a shame. Pass the pretzels” — but we’re getting perilously close, since mass shootings are becoming routine.

And make no mistake, they will keep happening until we stop searching for feel-good tactical “solutions” to an eminently strategic problem — tactics that have zero chance of preventing massacres.

For a non-politicized analysis, it is necessary to separate mass killings into two components: how to physically prevent them, and, much more difficult, figure out why they are a relatively new phenomenon.

This column will consider the “preventative” measures.

1) Laws should be enacted that preclude the government from publicly releasing the names of mass killers, at least for a year. Doing so would strip them of the one thing they crave above all: a social media legacy steeped in their warped sense of romanticism and infamy.

It would be hard to enforce, naturally, as freedom of the press should not be restricted, and acquaintances and neighbors would talk. But perhaps the media, in a nod to journalistic responsibility over sensationalism, could honor the “name blackout,” with any outlet violating the “code” being publicly shamed and shut out of related media events.

2) At its core, the “gun debate” is, ultimately, irrelevant.

Consider:

— There are at least 300 million guns in America, and likely more.

— “Assault weapons” may be guns that look scary, but in fact, there is no legal, mechanical, or practical definition designating them as such. For the record, more mass killings are carried out by those using ordinary pistols than “assault weapons.” (And no, the “AR” in AR-15 does not stand for “assault rifle,” but an abbreviation of the original manufacturer, Armalite.) The inflammatory language and loaded phrases must stop.

— Some ask why such weapons are available. The same can be asked of virtually anything. Why are cars capable of vastly exceeding speed limits — something that could be dangerous? Why is alcohol legal?  Because we live in a society that values freedom and personal responsibility. And just as we don’t punish responsible drivers and those who drink responsibly for the sins of those who abuse speed and booze, neither should all gun owners be penalized for the illegal actions of the extreme.

— The nation’s worst mass shooting zones also have the strictest gun laws (Chicago, New York, L.A., etc.), demonstrating that there is no correlation between increased gun restrictions and lower death/violence rates.

— Excluding war, the nation’s two worst mass attacks (9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombing) were accomplished without a single bullet. People intent on mass killing will find a way, and no laws, no matter how stringent, will dissuade them.

Both sides need to arm themselves with knowledge, with special emphasis on seeing the other’s perspective. There may not be a lot of common ground, but right now, we’re missing all of it.

— Those calling for an “assault rifle ban” as a panacea should be aware that, according to FBI statistics, fewer than 400 people (in a country of 320 million) are killed by rifle fire annually, most of whom are not mass shooting victims. And of the seven school-related shootings in 2018 (not eighteen, as some are erroneously reporting), a rifle was used in only one. That’s still one too many, but anyone who believes banning “assault rifles” will put an end to gun violence is simply ignoring the self-evident truth.

— Enforcing existing laws and closing loopholes go a long way toward achieving “common sense” gun regulations. But idiotic laws do not, such as a new Massachusetts law making ownership of previously-legal “bump stocks” punishable by potentially life in prison. So rapists and murderers receive lenient sentences, but possible life in the slammer for someone who inadvertently failed to dispose of a once-legal device. Bump stocks should be outlawed, but seriously, where’s the common sense?

3) Laws keep honest people honest. Rational people don’t debate whether to rob a convenience store or go to work. Instead, Americans make the right choices, not just because we are a moral people, but because we don’t want to go to jail and lose everything. But that’s not how the minds of mass shooters work.

Almost all mass murderers, on their chosen day, have committed to seeing their last sunrise, content to die by their own hand or suicide-by-cop (the Florida shooter was different in that he attempted to escape, though he too was surely willing to die). Rules of war couldn’t stop Kamikaze pilots, and laws don’t stop suicide bombers. Their die-or-die mentality should be enough for us to realize that advocating more laws to “prevent” attacks is pointless.

In other words, had there been a gun ban, the Florida murderer would not have shelved his plans in favor of resuming a “normal” life of college, cookouts, and ball games. He had snapped, and no law was going to stop him from carrying out his “vision.” And if he didn’t have a gun, he would have found an alternate way to kill. As ISIS has proven, more people can be killed by mowing them down in a car or truck than shooting them. The Florida killer could have done the same thing as school recessed, when students were closely packed by the hundreds.

Let’s also remember that the Columbine killers committed their atrocity while an assault weapons ban was in place. And the Sandy Hook murderer killed his own mother to steal her gun.

We must focus our energies on identifying these troubled children sooner, and attempt to render help before they act.

4) Our children cannot learn if they are paranoid zombies, afraid of life. Schools should be schools — not prisons.

Strengthening entry points, bolstering locks and glass, adding cameras, and initiating shooter drills are all important steps. But these should be just as infrequent as fire drills, or we will forever scar our children with unfounded fears that an attack is imminent and “they will be next,” when in fact the likelihood of that is almost nil.

5) Should teachers be able to carry guns? Yes, so long as that decision stays local. Just as we trust commercial pilots with guns, so too should we accept a gun in the hands of the person with whom we entrust our children. In the event of an attack, teachers will attempt to protect our children anyway, so let’s at least give them the ability to fight back.

And while expensive, schools should consider hiring retired police and military to provide armed security, so long as they are unobtrusive and do not turn schools into military zones.

Part Two of this article will look at why mass shootings didn’t occur just a generation ago.

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Freindly Fire Zone Media. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.

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In the aftermath of another school shooting, we are in danger.
parkland, shooting, gun debate
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2018-51-02
Friday, 02 March 2018 02:51 PM
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