Almost immediately after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday afternoon, anti-gun group Everytown for Gun Safety decried it as the sixth school shooting so far this year. Others claimed that the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old who was previously expelled from the school for disciplinary reasons, was a mental case who should never have had a firearm in the first place. In most media the common theme was the danger of guns and their proliferation.
Cruz left abundant clues about his mental instability: gruesome pictures he published on social media of animals that he had brutally killed, claims that he wrote “Allahu Akbar” on Instagram, revelations that the FBI knew of his erratic behavior months ago when it was reported to them by one of Cruz’s classmates, the decision to expel him last year from the same school he attacked for “disciplinary” reasons, classmates being intimidated by him and avoiding contact with him because he was “weird” and a “loner,” and so forth.
Regardless of his mental condition, Cruz carefully planned the assault. He entered the building near the end of the class day on Wednesday, wearing a gas mask and armed with smoke grenades and firearms. He set the grenades off and then triggered the fire-alarm system, which sent students scurrying into the halls where Cruz picked them off one by one with his rifle.
Twelve of the people he shot were found dead inside the school building, while two others were killed just outside and another one on a street near the school. In all, Cruz murdered 17 and wounded dozens more.
He wasn’t found and arrested until nearly two hours later, as he had left the building and deliberately blended into the crowd of fleeing students. Surveillance cameras later picked him out of the crowd, and he was discovered, arrested, and taken into custody about two miles away from the school. He's being charged with 17 counts of first-degree murder.
President Trump agreed with the assessment that Cruz was unstable when he tweeted: “So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem.” This view was confirmed by one of Cruz’s former classmates, Matthew Walker, who told a local television station that he “knew it was going to be him. A lot of kids threw jokes around saying that he was going to be the one to shoot up the school. It turns out that everyone predicted it. That’s crazy.”
Some of the school’s teachers knew Cruz was a problem and a danger, including his former math teacher, Jim Gard. Gard told the Miami Herald last year that Cruz “wasn’t allowed on campus with a backpack on him. There were problems with him last year threatening students and … he was asked to leave campus.”
Solutions to the problem of mental cases such as this surfaced immediately, nearly all of them asking the wrong question: How do we keep guns out of the hands of crazies? President Trump tweeted his solution: “Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!”
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel offered his solution:
If you are on a website and you know something or you’ve seen something, you see a person with rifles and weaponry, and you see something that’s not right, you owe it to your family, you owe it to your community and you owe it to law enforcement to make this a safer nation by calling up someone tonight.
Call up the FBI, call up the Broward Sheriff’s Office, call up someone tonight and let them know that you have information that something’s not right. You can prevent a major tragedy like this devastation that happened in Parkland tonight.
So the solution appears to consist of turning every student into a snitch whenever strange — definition yet to be defined — behavior is observed. Of course, if students bought into such a plan, each separate clique of students in each school in the country would likely single out several people. Are they all going to lose their gun rights, or will they pass some sort of superficial review, as Cruz apparently did. Big Brother here we come!
The problem with giving government the power to determine who is crazy, as some are suggesting, is the risk that the government eventually declares everyone crazy and therefore no one is entitled to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
Unnoticed or deliberately missing from the discussion over solutions on how to avoid ghastly atrocities such as this one from occurring in the future is the issue of armed adults being prohibited from carrying on school grounds and consequently unable to protect themselves thanks to "gun free" zones. Cruz walked right by two police cruisers on his way into the halls of Marjory Stone Douglas High School, knowing that, once inside, there would be no one there to return fire. Under Florida law it was a “safe zone” for shooters, and Cruz knew it.
In a world increasingly populated with crazies such as Cruz, there is no way that a “hardening” of the site will work: cameras, metal detectors, police cruisers in the parking lot, etc. Even if one is crazy, he may be still smart enough, like Cruz was, to work his way inside, knowing that once inside he would be free to wreak the havoc the mainstream media would only be too happy to publish in all its lurid bright red details, through hundreds of videos of dead and dying students.
It would only have taken one individual — an adult student, teacher, janitor, or administrator — armed and with skill at arms, to have solved the problem of Cruz. But somehow, in the twisted logic of anti-gunners, by attempting to make Florida schools safe by declaring them to be “gun free,” they have instead turned them into shooting galleries.
Image of school shooter being captured: Screenshot from YouTube video