Chinese New Year celebrations are over, the Winter Olympics are half over (with only one Russian caught doping, so far), and life in the Excited States of America goes on as usual. Another day, another mass killing, this one a school shooting in Florida. Walt can't tell you how many that makes this year, as I've already lost count.
The usual "thoughts and prayers" have been expressed by all and sundry. But along with the expressions of grief -- real and genuine -- we're hearing shouts of anger, and plenty of them. The latest yesterday's rally at Parkland FL, where 1000s of angry students, parents, teachers and neighbours of the high school where 17 people were killed demanded that immediate action be taken on gun-control legislation.
There were also rallies in St. Petersburg, on the other side of the state, and in Fort Lauderdale, about 25 miles from the scene of the horrific crime. Delaney Tarr, a student at the school where it happened, told the crowd in front of the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, "Because of these gun laws, people that I know, people that I love, have died, and I will never be able to see them again."
Let's think about that. What "gun laws" was Mr Tarr talking about? Laws exist, and the laws allow the purchase of an AR-15 assault rifle provided the purchaser has been properly vetted by the police and other bureaucrats charged with enforcing the laws. Since the killer, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, was known in the community to have exhibited signs of mental disturbance, it seems to me that the problem is not with the laws (or lack thereof), but with the system by which the laws are supposed to be applied.
It appears now, from public records, interviews with friends and family and online interactions, that Mr Cruz was unstable and violent to himself and those around him. Alas, even though a number of agencies, including the FBI, were notified about his threatening behaviour, but did little to stop it.
The Sun-Sentinel reported that Florida's Department of Children and Families investigated when Cruz posted on Snapchat a video showing himself cutting his arms. That was back in August of 2016. The agency's abuse hotline was told, "Mr Cruz has fresh cuts on both his arms. Mr Cruz stated he plans to go out and buy a gun. It is unknown what he is buying the gun for."
According to the paper, the DCF investigation was completed in November. The agency concluded that Mr Cruz had not been mistreated by his mother, was receiving adequate care from a mental health counsellor and was attending school. Mental health centre staff "came out and assessed the [victim]," the DCF report said "and found him to be stable enough not to be hospitalized."
"Attending school"... yes... At school, Mr Cruz routinely fought with teachers, was accused of swearing at staff and was referred for a "threat assessment" in January 2017 (two months after the DCF investigation wrapped up), according to the New York Times. School records seen by the Times show he was suspended several times in the 2016-17 school year and was frequently absent. They also show Cruz attended at least six schools, including a school for students with emotional problems, the newspaper said.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said his office had received more than 20 calls about Cruz in the past few years. He did not say what action his department took... if any. Which brings us to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, America's super-cops.
The FBI said "a person close to Cruz" called the FBI's tip line and provided information about Cruz's weapons and his erratic behaviour. The caller was concerned Cruz could attack a school. The agency acknowledged the tip should have been shared with the FBI's Miami office and investigated, but it was not. Perhaps those responsible were too busy with the investigation into the non-existent connection between Russian conspirators and the Trump campaign!
Dear American readers, how safe do you feel? Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that "they" -- terrorists, gangstas, crazy people -- aren't out to get you! The FBI, your state and local police and other agencies of social control (as I characterize them) are supposed to be "serving and protecting" you. Are they? Ha!
Now the usual gang of snowflakes, lefties and SJWs want to use events like the Parkland school killings as an excuse to take away your guns. Do you know what will happen if more restrictive gun laws are passed that would, for instance, make carrying a gun of any kind in a school zone illegal? I'll tell you! What will happen is that no-one will have a gun at school except someone evil and/or crazy enough to not give a shit about the new tough law!
Here's another question. How would such a law be enforced? What are they going to do, make all the students (and teachers and visitors) pass through a metal detector and undergo a pat-down search on entering the school? How many more law enforcement officers would that take? Would they be as effective as the rent-a-cops employed by the TSA to keep you safe at airports? Ha!
IMHO, the best defence against people like Nikolas Cruz is that envisioned by the Second Amendment to the Constitution. The Parkland massacre would not have been averted if the heroic football coach or any other teacher had been packing heat, but the loss of life would have been considerably less. Perhaps only Mr Cruz would have been killed.
Let's close with a thought from Thomas Sowell, an American economist, turned social theorist, political philosopher and author, who was born in North Carolina but grew up in Harlem. "The key fallacy of so called gun control laws is that such laws do not in fact control guns. They simply disarm law abiding citizens, while people bent on violence find firearms readily available."