President Joe Biden took advantage of the third anniversary of the Parkland school shooting to call for stricter gun control laws.
For most Americans who only ever followed the story of Parkland through the mainstream media, that call made sense. Most journalists only cared about my daughter's murder and the murder of 16 others as far as they could use it to prop up their own political agenda through an opportunistic teenager who has now become a partisan pillow salesman.
But for me, having done a thorough investigation into what went wrong and why in Parkland and in other school shootings in recent years, I expect Joe Biden’s gun control proposals to have about as much effect stopping school shootings as David Hogg’s pillows.
For all the sound and fury about the fact that the Parkland shooter used an AR-15, the fact is that he could have used a musket and murdered as many kids. That’s because the police gave him 11 minutes all to himself in a building with 800 kids.
Most people know the story of how the school resource officer on campus simply refused to go in. Some know the story about how eight other Broward Sheriff’s Deputies arrived on the scene while shots were still being fired and refused to go in.
But many don’t realize that after the police finally entered the building, it took them about a half hour to reach the third floor where my daughter had been shot.
That’s because the police had bad and mixed intel on what was actually happening inside that building. The school district refused to share live camera feeds with the police as a matter of policy. School administrators rewound the security tape and then relayed old scenes as though they were live. When you study the minute-by-minute, second-by-second account of that day like I have, it just boils your blood to see how the most basic things failed.
Ever since my daughter Meadow was murdered, I made it a mission to make schools safer. Last year, I launched an initiative called the School Safety Grant, which provides school districts with the software infrastructure to share their camera feeds with the police in an intuitive and easily navigable center. It’s a simple thing. It’s not polarizing. It’s not going to get anybody’s adrenaline or blood pressure up to talk about. But it’s the simple stuff like that that can make the difference between life and death.
I’ll never forget the first time we provided a display of this technology to the Coral Springs Police Department, whose officers rushed past the lazy and cowardly Broward Sheriff’s deputies that day only to enter a building with bad intel and great confusion. It almost brought a tear to my eye when the police chief told me “Andy, before we were in a rowboat, now we’re in a spaceship.”
School safety hasn’t been at the forefront of anyone’s mind this year, for the simple and obvious reason that for the most part schools have not been open. Yet we’re still seeing Democrats play politics with kids’ lives, threatening to keep schools closed – which has led to so many tragic youth suicides – unless and until they get more than a hundred billion dollar bailout from the federal government. When things get back to normal, I don’t expect them to do much more to focus on school safety.
But Republicans at the state and local level will still be looking for concrete ways to keep kids safe. And there are so many. From providing schools with the kind of technology from my School Safety Grant project, to hiring more school resource officers, to keeping doors locked so that there’s a single point of entry, responsible local leaders can do so much to keep kids safe. Hopefully these kinds of things never get used, but if the worst should occur there’s no doubt in my mind that kids’ lives will be saved.
Republicans and responsible leaders of any belief set just have to tune out the partisan political theater and focus on what will actually keep kids safe. That’s what I’ve been doing, and what I’ll keep doing. As Democrats try to exploit tragedy for partisan gain (or for pillow sales), and Republicans focus on making people’s lives better and children safer, more and more Americans will see the difference and act and vote accordingly.