ShareThis Page
Trib Sunday Duel: Mass-shooting blame rests with authorities |
Featured Commentary

Trib Sunday Duel: Mass-shooting blame rests with authorities

| Saturday, March 17, 2018 9:00 p.m.
AP Photo


No sooner had the smoke cleared when the canned clamor for more “commonsense gun safety measures” began.

Those are Orwellian code words for further criminalization of law-abiding gun owners in violation of the Second Amendment. But it did not take long for the actual facts to emerge behind the horrible murders of 17 innocents at the high school in Parkland, Fla.

“I’m going to be a professional school shooter,” said Nikolas Cruz in a YouTube post five months ago.

The FBI couldn’t locate the person with this rare name. Then in January a tipster actually identified Cruz and related his apparent plan to shoot up a school. The FBI failed to forward this explicit threat to its Miami office.

At the local level, police were called 39 times for service involving Cruz. One school kicked him out for fighting and another for misbehavior. His new school, apparently fearing he might bring a weapon, forbade him from having a backpack. Fellow students feared what he might do.

Criminal charges for terrorist threats, assault and shooting at a neighbor’s chickens could have been brought; convictions would have made him ineligible to buy firearms. Yet no prosecution was brought.

Cruz planned carefully and picked the ultimate soft target — a “gun-free” school zone. There were no trained teachers with hidden firearms to defend against an armed intruder bent on murder.

The nightmare of all nightmares happened. Defenseless victims were gunned down.

The countless Americans who recoiled in horror and mourned include good citizens who own firearms and who have children in schools. Yet instantly, pre-programed attacks were launched against the NRA for its support of the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun owners. The goal is to criminalize exercise of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

Under federal law, a person 18 or older who passes the background check may purchase a rifle from a gun dealer. Eighteen-year olds can vote and join the military. Yet because negligent government bureaucrats failed to prevent a massacre, the cry goes out to ban rifle sales to millions of responsible citizens age 18 or over.

The Supreme Court ruled in D.C. v. Heller (2008) that the Second Amendment protects the arms that are typically possessed for lawful purposes by law-abiding citizens. That includes the AR-15. Yet because negligent government actors failed to prevent a massacre, the cry goes out to ban this popular rifle.

American students deserve better than to be placed in “gun-free” killing zones. They deserve better than to live in an authoritarian regime in which only the military, the police and criminals possess firearms.

And they deserve to live in a society in which all provisions of the Bill of Rights are respected, where those who claim to be law enforcement actually do their jobs and where they are protected in fact from those who would do harm.

Stephen P. Halbrook, Ph.D., J.D., is senior fellow at the Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif., and author of “The Founders’ Second Amendment,” “Gun Control in the Third Reich,” and “Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France.”

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.