“What are we doing?”
That question rang through a riveted and silent CPAC crowd on Friday as the president repeated it, “So what are we doing?”
He continued, “We want to ensure that when there are warning signs we can act and act very quickly. Why do we protect our banks, our airports, and our government buildings, but not our schools?”
As the discussion since the Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has progressed, a couple of comparisons have emerged that are truly disturbing. Their outcomes hold remarkable similarity.
1. The Protestors vs The Preventionists:
In the nearly immediate aftermath of the shooting, anti-gun activists/gun control advocates (or however they wish to be identified) didn’t even allow the students (who had just experienced some of the worst trauma many of them will ever experience) to seek counseling, to ask questions, or to begin to put the pieces of their lives back together. Instead the “Guns are the problem” crowd immediately ginned up public protests, press conferences, and rallies. George Clooney, Steven Spielberg, and Oprah Winfrey ponied up $500,000 each to round up the still grieving students to bus them to Tallahassee and Washington, D.C. to chant, scream, and demand. They insisted that “something” be done. These coordinated efforts were designed not to find solutions to school shootings, but to rage against Republicans, the NRA, and inanimate machinery that can never be held morally accountable. CNN staged a very manipulated town hall meeting with Florida’s senators and a spokeswoman for the NRA. And endless hours of kids crying while attempting to read speeches filled news channel programming. It was one of the most egregious and unkind responses to hurting hearts I’ve ever witnessed.
The abuse evident in such methods said a great deal, not about the passions of the still grieving kids, but of the heartless, merciless, and cruelly inhumane puppet masters, politicians, and celebrities who would not let the opportunity to “exploit this crisis, go to waste.”
Simultaneously another group of people—those genuinely concerned with not only the health of the victims but also the immediate safety of schools charted a different path. Putting forward as much of a non-partisan, idea-centric, low-cost, seven step plan to immediately secure our schools, the readers of the plan shared the ideas more than a quarter of a million times (just on Facebook) within four days. Prior to that column I devoted a column just to the primary idea that the president has now put forward, allowing qualified, certified, gun adept school personnel to be better prepared for an active shooter. In addition, a sheriff in Ohio opened up a voluntary certification class for teachers who would like to be able to “conceal carry” and had to cut off the number at 250 for the first batch of those who are desiring to protect their classrooms. Other reports and personal inquiries have revealed that there are literally thousands of teachers across the nation who are desiring to not be given "sitting duck” status in the event that outer protections break down with an active shooter. I would also include in this group the president and the administration for (unlike CNN’s staged town hall event) opening the White House doors to a range of people affected by gun violence. Though the ideas in the room contrasted greatly with each other in some cases, the discussion was agreeable, even compassionate, and showed great potential for how such a divided country could come together.
As that discussion was just fading out we then awakened to some disturbing new news about the day of the massacre.
2. The Confiscators vs. The Certified:
An armed officer, Scot Peterson, refused to take action upon arriving at the scene of the shooting even as he could hear the killing going down inside building 12 on the school's campus. Scot Peterson is the linchpin that tears apart the “gun control” argument. The gun confiscators (my preferential reference for them) for some reason do not wish certified gun handlers—who also happen to be teachers—to be empowered to protect their classrooms and school children. They tell us that only police should have weapons. They tell us this consistently even though an average mass shooting in America takes 3 minutes from start to finish while the average response time for police units away from schools is 5-8 minutes nationally. But Scot Peterson was supposed to be the difference. He was a resource officer armed and stationed at the school specifically to deal with violent threats of deadly force. He is authorized by his training, his badge, and his job assignment to use deadly force to save lives as necessary. He’s supposed to be how the gun-control solution works.
Compare that to Coach Aaron Feis, an unarmed security guard at the high school. As bullets began to spray he threw himself in front of a young girl saving her life and others. As the JV football coach and alum of Douglas High he spent his life attempting to impact the lives of the kids at the campus. He died as selflessly as he lived. But he didn’t have to. Had he been armed as a coach or teacher at the school he could have been able to still run towards the fired shots, but in a different turn of events, perhaps taken down the out-of-control gunman and saved the lives of maybe all of the 17 needless victims.
It makes no sense not to arm someone like Coach Feis, but to arm the cowardice of Officer Peterson.
The president has engaged this issue and his singular focus appears to be the main contention of my simple seven ideas from last week: make our schools a hardened target where perpetrators dread taking any actions that might be met with deadly force. This is a proper and clear-headed response to the evil roaming our world looking for soft targets to attack.
It’s the right thing to do.
The gun confiscators get children killed.
Securing our schools will do the opposite.