The Maneater

Column: The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School should be anything but a call for more gun control

The shooting that happened at the high school in Florida was an enormous tragedy but the facts should be assessed before calling for the government to pass any kind of gun control.

Brandon Bartlett is a freshman political science major at MU. He is an opinions columnist who writes about politics for The Maneater.

On Feb. 14, 2018, tragedy struck the nation when a 19-year-old male entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and opened fire on the occupants. The shooter used a legally purchased AR-15 style rifle to take the lives of 17 people and injure 14. The suspected shooter was apprehended while walking down a street within a couple hours of the shooting and has since admitted to committing the horrendous act.

Many students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and family members of the victims have called for the government to, once again, enact stricter gun control. These requests have been echoed by much of the American public and many in the media. These requests are understandable, especially from those directly affected, and my thoughts and prayers have and will continue to go out to them. However, I feel it is important to look at the facts of the current situation. And the facts that have come out about this shooting point to anything but more gun laws since the ones already on the books aren’t being enforced.

There was complete and utter failure by law enforcement to prevent this horrific act. It also seems the more that is reported the more it is made clear that the Broward County Sheriff's Department was incapable of handling the situation as it was happening.The shooter, in this instance, had been reported to the FBI twice. Once last September after commenting “I'm going to be a professional school shooter” on a YouTube video and again on Jan. 5 when he was reported by a tipster who claimed he had a “desire to kill people, erratic behavior and disturbing social media posts.” The Broward County Sheriff’s deputies had also been called to the shooter’s home 45 times, at least 19 of which were related to the shooter. The calls ranged from complaints of him fighting with his brother, cursing at his mother and throwing her against a wall. He was also examined by a mental health agency in 2016 after sending a Snapchat video “in which he cut his arms and said he wanted to buy a gun” according to NBC News. However, after being examined it was determined he wouldn’t be hospitalized.

This maniac should not have been allowed to keep his guns in this case, and it was completely irresponsible for the Broward County Sheriff’s Department to allow him to do so. Legal experts have stated that his threats of wanting to shoot and kill people were enough to constitute authoritative actions to deprive him of firearms. So why was there no action taken by the sheriff’s deputies? Sadly this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the careless acts by the Broward County Sheriff’s Department.

It’s been reported that there was an armed school resource officer who waited outside of the school building and avoided conflict by standing outside, while the shooting was happening. Not only did the one resource officer not enter the building but three other deputies simply stood outside with their guns drawn after the shooting had supposedly ended while there were innocent people inside who needed critical medical attention. It has also been alleged by two witness to the shooting that EMS personnel were not allowed into the building to administer such life-saving medical attention by the Broward County Sheriff’s Department. All of this brings to mind several questions about the competence of the Broward County Deputies. Maybe the Sheriff of Broward County, Scott Israel, could answer these questions if he weren’t too busy placing blame on anyone but himself.

During CNN’s Feb. 21 town hall, Israel sat on stage with Dana Loesch, a spokesperson for the NRA, and said to her “I understand that you’re standing up for the NRA but you just told this group of people that you’re standing up for them, you are not standing up for them until you say, ‘I want less weapons.’” He did much of the same in an interview with Jake Tapper from CNN. When asked by Tapper why he wasn’t taking any responsibility for his department missing multiple red flags Israel responded, “I can only take responsibility for what I knew about. I exercised my due diligence. I have given amazing leadership to this agency” and “You don't measure a person's leadership by a deputy not going into a — these deputies received the training they needed.”

In response to Sheriff Israel’s refusal to admit the mistakes made by his force, Tapper said “Maybe you measure somebody's leadership by whether or not they protect the community.” In my opinion, this sorry excuse of a sheriff deserves to be fired. There are 17 people who died as an effect of incompetence from his department. He and his deputies completely failed to take appropriate measures to keep the community of Broward County safe.

Had the authorities reacted properly, this shooting may have been prevented. The shooting may have been preventable had the laws already in place been enforced, so there is no need for new gun legislation to help prevent future atrocities. The shooter was reported to the FBI twice, law enforcement 45 times and examined by a mental health agency. The gunman used 10-round magazines rather than the AR-15’s standard capacity 30-round magazines (the magazines which Democrats are currently attempting to ban) and was still able to kill 17 people. To prevent future atrocities, we need to enforce the laws already in place, or, if anything, have fewer gun laws so that the public can defend themselves in such situations.

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