The case for arming teachers and other school employees continues to grow with every tragic mass-shooting the country is forced to endure. The most recent example being the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, which took place Wednesday afternoon in Parkland, Florida.
The gunman, a mentally disturbed 19 year old boy, who was not afraid to showcase his fascination and love of weapons online, while posting disturbing comments about wanting to be a “professional school shooter.” Law enforcement and school officials failed each one of the students and teachers who were injured or killed that awful day.
As the investigation into the life of this killer continues to dig deeper, facts will continue to rise to the surface, and the number of red flags will provide a sobering truth that nobody wants to admit; law enforcement, friends, family, school officials, and others close to these potentially dangerous individuals sometimes let the obvious warning signs fall through the “cracks,” opening up the opportunity for terror to be unleashed on our children’s campuses.
Sadly, looking back at the timeline of events in the shooter’s life, one can easily deduce that this was an extremely troubled young man, who had access to weapons with the capacity to harm a large number of individuals. Beginning with the school he would eventually unleash hellish carnage upon, Nikolas Cruz had been expelled from Marjorie Stoneman Douglas HS for fighting.
According to USA Today, at least one teacher stated that the young man had been “flagged as a potential threat” and was subsequently banned from the campus, due to administrators’ “growing concerns.”
Jim Gard, a math teacher at Marjory Stoneman, mentioned Cruz had been “aggressive” toward students in the past. A classmate told of Cruz’s “hot temper” and tendency to make “dark, gun related jokes.” Cruz moved in with a friend’s family after his mother passed away last November 1st, bringing his AR-15 along with him. The family reportedly knew he had the firearm. However, they said they made him lock it up in a cabinet, though the young man had a key. Cruz had supposedly been receiving treatment from a mental-health facility, but “hadn’t been back in over a year,” according to Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.
According to former classmates and friends of Cruz, he had been displaying increasingly troublesome behavior, as well as posting disturbing messages and videos on various social media sites. One student, who fled from the scene on Wednesday, recalled seeing an Instagram post of Cruz with a gun in front of his face. Another student, who claimed he was a former friend of Cruz, said the young man had been posting about killing animals on Instagram, and boasted of rounds of backyard “target practice,” with his pellet gun.
None of the aforementioned facts from the killer’s recent past is meant to place blame on those around him. The information is simply necessary to build toward the simple truth that prevention of these types of situations are extremely difficult. Without allowing the government to have carte blanche access to the lives of American citizens, dark and evil individuals will always have the ability to live out their worst desires.
Yes, law enforcement, school officials, and those close to troubled individuals need to do all they can to stop tragedies from coming to fruition. When those first lines of defense fail, the intended targets of these mentally unstable individuals need to have access to a reasonable means of self-protection.
Arm the potential targets. Now, I do not believe arming students is the answer. However, trained and skilled faculty members, armed with handguns of their own, accomplishes a couple of things at once. On the one hand, if an armed person enters the campus, armed faculty members can quickly intervene, deescalating or shooting the assailant, effectively stopping the massacre attempt in its tracks. The very threat or knowledge of armed faculty members would reasonably deter those entertaining the idea of setting out to go on a shooting spree. The worst case scenario, being that the gunman gains entry to the campus and begins firing, could still lead to far fewer casualties, once an armed teacher or official is able to shoot and subdue the suspect.
Many armchair experts have brought up placing armed police officers in schools, as opposed to arming teachers, citing the teachers lack the training to effectively respond to an active shooter situation. However, most high schools already have armed Resource Officers, and we see how well that’s worked in preventing school shootings. If these teachers are provided NRA training and range time, they would still provide much greater protection than being forced to use their bodies as human shields. Perhaps the school boards could incentivize ongoing weapons safety courses, and develop training programs with local first responders.
Simply put, allowing responsible adults to protect our children is the answer. Americans place their sons and daughters in the care of these protectors every day. We, as a society, should allow these individuals to possess the tools needed to stop those who would seek to harm the very children we charge them to protect. Good intentions and partisan grandstanding should never get in the way of solutions.