Yesterday Nikolas Cruz shot and killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida. He injured at least a dozen more. He was a former student, expelled for disciplinary reasons and the subject of an email warning that he could be a potential threat to students from a year ago. He was reportedly banned from campus if he was wearing a backpack.
He carried an AR-15 and reportedly had smoke grenades. He pulled the fire alarm to draw his victims out and opened fire. What could have been done to prevent this tragedy? Nothing. It’s a grim conclusion, but no new gun laws would have prevented any of the recent mass shootings. As both sides enter the trenches again on this issue, it may be incumbent upon us to be our own protectors in the sense of saying something when we do see something. David French at National Review has more (via NRO):
Mass shootings are among the most premeditated of crimes, often planned months in advance. The shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School reportedly wore a gas mask, carried smoke grenades, and set off the fire alarm so that students would pour out into the hallways. Though we’ll obviously learn more in the coming days, each of these things suggests careful preparation. A man who is determined to kill and who is proactive in finding the means to kill will find guns. He can modify guns. He can find magazines. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can do. When policies fail, people can and should rise to the occasion. Looking at the deadliest mass shootings since Columbine, we see that the warning signs were there, time and again. People could have made a difference. Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik spent at least a year preparing for their attack in San Bernardino, Calif. Farook may have even discussed the attack three years before the murders. A neighbor reportedly witnessed suspicious activity at the shooters’ home, but was afraid to report what she saw.
It means that Americans need to be aware that this contagion exists, that this “ever-evolving riot” is under way. We can’t deflect responsibility upwards, to Washington. We’re still the first line of defense in our own communities. We cannot simply assume that the kid filling his social-media feed with menacing pictures is just in “a phase” or that strange obsessions with murder or mass death are morbid, but harmless. We’ve trained ourselves to mind our own business, to delegate interventions to professionals, and to “judge not” the actions of others. But in a real way, we are our brother’s keeper; and an ethic of “see something, say something” is a vital part of community life.
That’s not public policy. It’s personal responsibility. It’s also the best way to confine the contagion that’s killing our kids.
French also includes how the state has also failed us, but not because they didn’t pass new gun laws. He noted that twice the FBI interviewed Omar Mateen, the Pulse Nightclub shooter, when he claimed to have terror ties. Seung-Hui Cho, Virginia Tech, was ruled to be “an imminent danger to others,” but was discharged from outpatient care. The most recent, the church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas is probably the toughest to swallow since the Air Force never sent the FBI shooter Devin Patrick’s criminal record to be updated in NICS. Kelley had served a year in jail for domestic abuse, and that conviction bars him from owning firearms. This paperwork error could have prevented a mass shooting. If Aaron Alexis—the Navy Yard shooter—had his disturbing behavior properly reported, he would have lost his clearance and had zero access to the facility.
Yes, see something, say something might not satisfy the anti-gun Left, which is aching to get another crack at trying to chip away at Americans’ Second Amendment rights, but it might be all we have right now—and it’s worked. While Florida suffered tragedy, Washington State breathed a sigh of relief as a grandmother stopped her grandson’s plot to commit a school shooting in Everett (via Seattle Times) [emphasis mine]:
An Everett teen who was arrested on investigation of attempted murder Tuesday noted in his journal that he’d learned from other mass school shootings, wanted to make the body count as high as possible and wrote he couldn’t “wait to walk into that class and blow all those (expletives) away,” according to police.
The 18-year-old student was arrested at ACES High School after his grandmother called police to report that she had read a few pages of her grandson’s journal and was alarmed, according to the document of probable cause submitted by the Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
According to court documents, the 18-year-old, who The Seattle Times is not naming because he has not been formally charged with a crime, wrote about shooting up his school, making pressure bombs, filling inert grenades with “black powder” and hiding a rifle in his guitar case.
The rifle is said to have been an AK-47 (via K5 News, local NBC outlet) [emphasis mine]:
Prosecutors allege the suspect had inert grenades in his bedroom that he planned to fill with black powder along with the AK-47 hidden in a guitar case.
The student attended Kamiak High School last year before transferring to ACES Alternative School this fall. Detective say he simply flipped a coin to determine which school to target. It came up ACES.
ACES High School was contacted and told about the threat. The student was arrested at the school, and a knife and marijuana were found on his person.
Mukilteo School District spokesman Andy Muntz said the teen was not on their radar, adding everyone is incredibly grateful for that grandmother's decision to turn the young man in.
Yes, it was lucky break—all because the grandmother saw something and reported it to the authorities. If we do have a conversation about new policy (I highly doubt it’ll be constructive), then this is our best defense for now. And as you can see—it’s saved lives.