It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. Charles Dickens probably never thought of a shooting as the best of times, nor would anyone else. However, if you HAVE to have a shooting, then the obvious "best of times" is one where only the gunman dies. Unfortunately, that isn't always the case.
Today we had yet another, preventable shooting at a soft-target school, where the best defense the government can come up with is making the school a gun-free zone, and occasionally a couple of cops.
The facts will continue to play out, but while two police officers acted heroically today (take note, Broward County Sheriff's Office) what we do know is that there were still far too many innocents killed. The first officer was shot before he knew what was happening, and the second seems to have moved as fast as he could, though no one can be everywhere at once.
This will be a story that is played out in the press for days, while the talking heads on Fox News and CNN spout various "solutions" to the problems of mass shootings. Most of these talking heads won't have the first clue what they are talking about.
I am a former military and civilian firearms instructor. I still teach friends and family who want to learn, but I don't charge anymore. I was a Texas Concealed Handgun Instructor. I know the law in Texas. A 17-year-old having access to his father's weapons like what happened today is a Class-A misdemeanor for the father. Yes, there is a DEFENSE to this charge if the gun was used in self-defense, but this was not the case here, and so the father can not use this defense in court, though I'm sure his lawyers will try if they're paid enough. The father of today's shooter (I won't use his name and give him the fame so many of these killers desire) WILL see time in prison if Attorney General Ken Paxton has anything to say about it. The father may have obtained his guns legally, but in no way was a 17 year-old legally using them.
Obviously, today's shooting was the worst of times.
The best of times happened just yesterday in Dixon, Illinois, when a school resource officer shot a would-be school shooter. There were snippets about this in the NY Times and other major news outlets, but that story has already gone away, while this one will not. It SHOULD be talked about just as much as today's shooting. We need to talk about successes in stopping school shootings just as much as we talk about failures. We need to have an honest conversation about what DOES and what DOES NOT work.
I'm not going to use this piece to go into a great detail on the gun-control debate, though I'm sure that's where the Left will continue to take us, even though they admit there are no additional laws they want that would stop these horrific tragedies. I DO want us all to come to some common ground on this issue of school shootings though.
1. ALL of us (we, the common people) want these to stop. I say we the common people because there are a great number of politicians on both sides of the debate, but particularly on the Left, who make a great deal of hay when these incidents happen.
2. We have to have an honest conversation about what does and does not work. An HONEST conversation, by the way, Lefties, does not mean what levels of gun control we're willing to accept. And for those on the Right, yes, we need to talk about gun control. It's our job to demonstrate to those who are ill-informed why gun control has not and never will work.
3. We need to approach this with logic and facts, not emotion.
This honest conversation has to begin with certain undeniable facts:
1. The shootings with the lowest body counts are those stopped by a good guy with a gun. It's not ALWAYS a cop. Arming responsible teachers who both desire to carry and have demonstrated that they can handle a gun is something we need to talk about. I've heard good arguments for this, and one or two reasonable concerns against.
2. In nearly every incidence, mental health has played a factor, and could be seen BEFORE the shooting.
3. In MOST (not all) incidences, there were already mechanisms in place within current law that COULD have and SHOULD have stopped the gunman from obtaining firearms. Take today for example. Daddy is going to go to jail, and he should, for not having his firearms secured where his son could get them. I'm speculating here, but I'm willing to bet a lot of money as the investigation goes on, that the father of the gunman knew his son was disturbed, and should not only have kept his firearms secure from his son, as is the law in Texas, but also should have been seeking mental health for his son.
4. The Left is going to hate this one, but it's an undeniable fact. Almost every one of these mass shootings, and ALL of them in schools, are in gun free zones. Those who know little to nothing about guns may think this irrelevant, but it is one of the most important points. They are soft targets that are chosen because most if not everyone there is completely defenseless.
There is more we could talk about on today's shooting. We could talk about the explosives, the fact that neither of the guns used are ones the Left (currently) claims it wants to ban, or the instant calls for gun control. I did see something just yesterday that I found interesting from the Left. They were complaining that Parkland was disappearing from the news and it wasn't getting any attention anymore, a month later. They wanted to push for gun control and nothing else.
Well, I have a solution for this. Adhere to the above rules for a conversation, and accept the undeniable facts above, and then engage us with logic and reason, instead of pure emotion. The kids from the Parkland shooting got famous not for their calm reason, but for their rage.
And before you think I'm not emotional ENOUGH about all this, just keep in mind I have two little boys in public school here in Texas. Yes, I'd love for the teachers and administrators in their schools (those who want to be) armed and willing to protect my kids. I'll donate the time on the range to help them become proficient. I'll even pay for the ammo and range time.
But before anything else, we need to give the same attention to the school shootings that are stopped almost before they begin as we do to the one where so many innocents are killed.
Mr. Wilhelm, I commend you for writing such a thoughtful and balanced article. I agree more attention should be paid to the lives saved, such as in Dixon, IL. And more attention should be paid to the victims, not the shooters. Basic facts & one photo of the shooter is sufficient. Any further reporting should be factual updates. Then the attention should be on the victims and solutions. But I'm not holding my breathe. I have my theories about causation and societal cures. But they won't be popular. But I am grateful for the calm logic that you have brought to the discussion. I pray people will listen. Thank You.
one of these days, when you're not too busy thinking up solutions to solve all the world's problems, I'd be more than happy to teach you the difference between BREATHE and BREATH.
Let's just print signs on 8 1/2" x 11" that say Gun Free zones and let all the armed guards at government buildings go home. if future generations don't need to be protected we don't need to protect the last ones right?
I am not an expert nor instructor, and i agree with 95% of what you say. But with being a guard for 25yrs, and dealing with what i am going through now, it must be realized that it goes deeper then that in the mental relm of these happenings. Everyone says the father will pay, what about his mother? We don't know the whole story and probably never will. "The best interest of the child" has been proven time and time again, a failure! Where has the APA been? Why are doctors not been held accountable? I am just touching on the surface of how deep these problems are. We need to bring more to this discussion then people realize. IMHO it will start with common sense and moral values.