The Existing System is Broken: How Government Failures Helped Enable Four Recent Mass Shootings

Posted: Feb 16, 2018 2:00 PM
The Existing System is Broken: How Government Failures Helped Enable Four Recent Mass Shootings

Glaring failures of the US federal government have at least partially enabled four of the worst mass shootings that have rocked the country in recent years.  Today, we learned that in addition to multiple additional red flags flapping, the FBI received a specific threat tip about the Florida school shooter -- who seems to have been very well known to local law enforcement, too -- in early January.  Weeks later, the deranged young man became a spree murderer.  What happened?  We don't know full details yet, but the feds are acknowledging that "protocols were not followed."  This is absolutely infuriating:

This calls to mind the revelation that the Orlando jihadist who slaughtered dozens of innocents at a gay nightclub in 2016 was on the FBI's radar screen for some time, but their interest lapsed.  Assessing threats is obviously very challenging, complicated, and perhaps overwhelming.  Nevertheless, the wrong call was made in that case, and the results were historically deadly.  Then there was the horrific Charleston church shooting, committed by a sick killer who was able to obtain his weapon because of a government error related to his background check:

According to a DoJ report issued on Wednesday, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) has failed to be properly maintained and updated. NCIS has “lacked timely and accurate data from local agencies that could have prevented the alleged shooter from purchasing the gun he allegedly used,” the report said. During this investigation, it was discovered that Dylann Roof, the Charleston church shooter, was able to get around the NICS background check due to faults in the system. When Roof initially tried purchasing a firearm, his sale was delayed and he was given a three-day waiting period. During that time, it is expected that the DoJ will look into a potential purchasers criminal background. Unfortunately, the local authorities neglected to note that Roof admitted to drug possession when he was arrest, which would have immediately made him a prohibited person, even before trial.

The same applies to the monster who mowed down congregants in a Texas church last fall, who was also ineligible to purchase firearms -- yet slipped through the bureaucratic cracks:

As many people call for more gun control in the wake of yet another appalling and heartbreaking attack, it's important to scrutinize the efficacy of such proposals with clear eyes, as well as weigh the serious trade-offs.  Emotionalism is understandable with more than a dozen teenagers dead, but viable solutions are much harder to come by than angry blaming.  Perhaps before considering any new measures -- and I'm not opposed to discussing options -- we should take a hard look at the existing system, the disastrous errors and oversights of which have failed to prevent a terrible amount of bloodshed.  Maybe it would be wise to fix what's clearly broken before piling new responsibilities upon a government structure that is already whiffing badly on its current obligations.  On that score, here are several concrete ideas worthy of careful examination: