We all know there is something wrong in our land. Desperately wrong. The recent massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., is just another example of how the soul of our nation is rotting. There were heroes in the shooting, of course. The people who were gunned down were innocent and much loved by their families. But down deep we all know that something is wrong with our nation … and it is only getting worse.
What is the problem, and how do we address it? Can we even solve the problem once we diagnose it? Are we even ready to face what will not work and what just might work? We now know that several things had been going wrong for quite some time, and all these wrong things finally erupted in a “perfect storm” of bloodshed last Wednesday.
We know that law enforcement knew about Nikolas Cruz, but did nothing to stop him. The FBI knew of his aberrant and potentially violent behavior — his postings on social media — and did not follow their own protocol to address the imminent danger. They admit this.
We also now know that local law enforcement was called to Cruz’s home some 39 times in the past seven years!
His fellow students uniformly report that they knew that he was dangerous. They knew that he was fascinated with guns and with killing. They knew he made online threats. Yet, there was NOTHING that the police could do?
Here’s what we do know, so far, about this young man:
His father died a few years ago; his mother died this past November. Did his parents or other family try to get him help for his mental illness? We don’t know. But it does seem to me that enough people knew he was unhinged, yet he never got the medical help he needed.
Then there is the school district. The people who write policy for the public schools in Broward County may have been very well intentioned when a few years back they re-wrote policy on how to deal with troubled and violent students. According to their “PROMISE” program, they wanted to reduce the number of students begin charged with crimes for minor offenses.
They wanted to cut down on the “school to prison pipeline.” So instead of calling the police for things like vandalism and assault/battery and hauling people to jail, they tried the counseling approach. Here is the “matrix” that they use when dealing with problem students. Notice that for issues like fighting, harassment, bullying, and vandalism, the answer is counseling, something called “restorative justice,” “developmental assets profiling,” and “assessments with coordinated social skills lessons.”
These school policies may lead to more, not less, crime.
I don’t doubt that this “PROMISE” approach has worked for some or even many students. But there certainly are violent students for whom “counseling” and “intervention” will not work. (Can you imagine using these techniques on members of the notorious MS-13 gang?) They need to be removed from society and placed behind bars for a long time to keep the rest of us safe. The school expelled Nikolas Cruz and banned him from coming to the school with a backpack. That did not work, did it?
By now you and I have been inundated with calls to “do something.” Usually that call is followed by a desire for stricter gun control or even to confiscate and/or ban all guns. The Hill has a fascinating article illustrating just how our country is already rather restrictive on firearm ownership.
So, when someone starts flapping their gums at you about the need for tighter gun laws, have them read all the federal laws ALREADY on the books in this piece published by The Hill. Folks, we have over 80 million gun owners in this country. They own more than 300 million guns. Does anyone seriously think that the federal government would be able to confiscate all those weapons? Realistically, that just ain’t gonna happen.
And by the way, this is for all the people who say we need to ban “assault rifles:” Please read The Hill article again. An AR-15 is NOT an assault rifle!! It is a semi-automatic rifle just like 75 percent of all the rifles out there that people use for hunting, sport shooting, and self defense (the AR-15 is one of the most popular firearms out there for hunting).
According to the federal government, the legal definition of an assault rifle is a rifle that has a selector switch that can make the gun fully automatic. Such guns are ALREADY banned!! They have been for years!! In eleven states you can get around that by purchasing a special license to buy a fully automatic gun, however. You must register with the government, and the price for an automatic gun (assault rifle or machine gun) starts at about $10,000. Way out of reach for the average American. I’ve seen them run at about $30,000 to $60,000. (But don’t worry — the mafia and the drug gangs can get them a lot cheaper.)
The point is, any criminal who is bent on murdering people can get hold of a gun, or anything else to be used as a weapon (like a truck, a knife, fertilizer to make a bomb, or box-cutters to hijack airplanes).
Please dispense with the useless rhetoric about banning guns or making the laws stricter. Connecticut gun laws are some of the strictest in the nation, yet their laws did not stop Adam Lanza from murdering teachers and kids at Sandy Hook Elementary.
So what can we do? None of the following ideas will individually solve the problem. It took us 40 to 50 years for us to get into this mess; so don’t expect to see a turn around in a day. But here are a few ideas to get us started:
1. Train teachers.
All teachers in every school in America needs to be trained in how to deal with an active shooter situation. I highly recommend the ALICE training seminars. (ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate.) Here is their website.
I have personally gone through the course and am certified to teach it. The course does not involve the use of firearms at all, but does provide excellent strategies and tactics to save lives. Learn more about ALICE training here.
2. Get police in the schools.
We already have air marshals on airplanes, shouldn’t we have law enforcement in the schools? I know, forty years ago we didn’t need them … well, our culture has changed hasn’t it? This is no time to dream about the way things were. This is reality now.
If the school district cannot afford police officers in the schools, then arm the teachers. Give them the training they need to conceal and carry, have them jump through as many hoops as you want, but give them the ability to protect themselves and the students.
3. Get rid of “gun free zones.”
Yeah, those signs really stopped the terrorists and crazies from shooting up places, didn’t they? I’m sure the signs made lunatics stop in their tracks and say, “Wow, this is a gun free zone — I’d better get out of here!” Let citizens be armed to defend the defenseless and protect the innocent.
4. Stop coddling lawbreakers.
End school policies that coddle thugs and cover up their violence. I’m all for counseling those who respond to it, but for those who won’t — send them to prison. Remove them from society. Education is not a right; it is the responsibility of parents, and the privilege of students. If they don’t cooperate, get them out of the school.
5. Home educate.
That is an option. Yes, I agree it is not for everyone. But have you seriously thought about it for your family? There are public school systems that offer home education through their schools. Other families want to come up with their own curriculum.
It is indeed a sacrifice. Are you willing to sacrifice for the safety of your kids? Think about it and see if it will work. If you decide that it will not work, then check out your private or public school’s security. If you have any doubts about their ability to keep your kid(s) safe … give homeschooling a second thought.
6. Start parenting.
Most parents I know are absolutely terrific. They are in charge and the kids know it. But there are others who think that parenting means they are to be their kids’ “buddy.” The parent wants to be “cool” and “liked” by their kids.
Surprise: you are their parent, not their buddy. It is not your job to be liked or to give them everything they want. It is your job to teach them and prepare them for the future. You are their primary teacher — not the school or their friends. That means take away bad influences from their lives, encourage good influences, and be the example in honesty, hard work, and a truly healthy enjoyment of life.
Wow, Jeff, now you’ve gone from preaching to meddling. Yes I have. Where was our nation 40 years ago? Fifty years ago? Did we have this problem? I started school in the late ’60s and graduated from high school in 1980. There were no massacres. Kids had pickup trucks with gun racks and shotguns or rifles in the racks (I grew up in Georgia). No one killed anyone. What changed?
Look around on Sunday morning. What is the biggest church in your area? Probably Wal-Mart or the grocery store. The parking lots are packed on Sunday at 11 a.m., aren’t they? Look at the football games on Friday night. Packed. How about your church, is it packed? Probably not. Where are people?
When a society no longer thinks that God is real or important, when they will go and worship God only if they have “nothing better to do,” when a society no longer believes that there is a final Judge of mankind to whom they will give an account, and when society thinks people are just accidental blobs of goo without any purpose or meaning … then we get what we get. And, ladies and gentlemen, we are getting it right now. We don’t like it much, do we?
What would happen if millions of us honestly repented and put God first and worshiped Him with our families instead of worshiping convenience and entertainment? Would there be a change in our society? If we started believing that the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount were real, and it was the primary responsibility of the father and the mother (not the responsibility of the school or the preacher) to teach our kids real eternal moral truths, do you think we might just see a turn around?
Do you think God would hear the earnest cries of repentance … the cries of a nation that has largely ignored and ditched God? I doubt a turnaround would happen in a day or a year, but maybe in a few years … after all, it took us decades to get to this current mess.
But it would be worth a try, wouldn’t it?