Gov. Rick Scott waves as he is introduced to the Senate on the first day of legislative session, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)
As in the case of most mass shootings, except those that occur in Las Vegas, we are now in the throes of the “we gotta do something” phase. This will be followed by the “gridlock,” “disenchantment,” and “embitterment” phases but right now we’re into “do something.” A week ago Mitt Romney hopped on the train. Since then there has been a writhing orgy of politicians, left, right, and center, to get their two-cents in:
One of the most basic rules that law-abiding gun owners must follow is 'don’t turn your gun into a machine gun.' https://t.co/Hui31mVM0I
— The Federalist (@FDRLST) February 22, 2018
Legal analysis: The ATF originally concluded that the bump stock is just a firearm part, which makes it not subject to regulations, at least under the GCA or the NFA. https://t.co/RvkbrQVznW
— NBC News (@NBCNews) February 24, 2018
I don’t get the connection between a bump stock and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting but I often miss the big picture.
The award, so far, for the most counterproductive reaction come from Florida Governor Rick Scott. While Scott is not running for reelection, he may have his eye on a Senate run in the future, hence his need to “do something.”
My message to them has been very simple – you are not alone. Change is coming… and it will come fast.
I want to make it virtually impossible for anyone who has mental issues to use a gun. I want to make it virtually impossible for anyone who is a danger to themselves or others to use a gun.
I want to create a new program in Florida – I call it the Violent Threat Restraining Order. This concept is very simple, and very common sense in my view.
Let’s review the warning signs here… he had 39 visits from police, his mother called him in, DCF investigated, he was kicked out of school, he was known to students as a danger to shoot people, and he was reported to the FBI last month as a possible school shooter.
And yet, he was never put on the list to be denied the ability to buy a gun, and his guns were never removed from him.
Take a moment and read those two sections. Together.
Also, we will require all individuals purchasing firearms to be 21 or older. Let me repeat – we will require all individuals purchasing firearms to be 21 or older.
But an overwhelming number of U.S. mass shooting over the last 50 years were committed by adults older than 21 who would not have been affected by Trump’s proposal.
And in nearly all the mass shootings by shooters younger than age of 21, the guns were stolen from relatives or illegally purchased or the shooters were armed with guns not considered assault weapons.
Then on to the laundry list:
We will establish enhanced criminal penalties for threats to schools, like social media threats of shootings or bombings. We will also enhance penalties if any person possesses or purchases a gun after they have been deemed by state law to not have access to a gun.
And, we will completely ban the purchase or sale of bump stocks.
The second part of my action plan provides $450 million to keep students safe.
Today, I am calling for a mandatory law enforcement officer in every public school. These law enforcement officers must either be sworn sheriff’s deputies or police officers and be present during all hours students are on campus.
We are also increasing funding in the Safe Schools Allocation to address specific school safety needs within each school district. This includes school hardening measures like metal detectors, bullet-proof glass, steel doors, and upgraded locks. The Florida Department of Education, with FDLE, will also provide minimum school safety and security standards by July 1st to all school districts.
All school safety plans must be submitted to their county sheriff’s office by July 1st each year for approval. Once all plans and requests for school hardening have been approved by the county sheriff’s office, in consultation with local police, plans will be forwarded to the Department of Education by the school district to receive any state funds.
We will also establish a new, anonymous K-12 “See Something, Say Something” statewide, dedicated hotline, website and mobile app.
Next, we will establish funding to require access to dedicated mental health counselors to provide direct counseling services to students at every school. These counselors cannot serve dual roles, like teaching or academic advising. Every student must have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with a mental health professional, and receive ongoing counseling as needed.
Each school will be required to have a threat assessment team including a teacher, a local law enforcement officer, a human resource officer, a DCF employee, a DJJ employee, and the principal to meet monthly to review any potential threats to students and staff at the school.
Finally, we will require crisis intervention training for all school personnel. This training must be completed before the start of the 2018 school year.
A few observations.
Nothing on this list would have kept Nikolas Cruz from his rampage. There were deputies on the scene. He was the subject of numerous reports identifying him as a risk. He’d had multiple contacts with social workers and law enforcement. And on and on. The interior hardening of the school is really meaningless and, to the extent it prevents law enforcement from clearing a building, it is dysfunctional.
This is the quintessential government solution to a problem. It contains more restrictions on the rights and liberty of citizens. The restraining order idea has been used in California and the fact is that once one is placed on you, no judge is willing to remove it. Ever. And the level of proof needed is de minimis. To think this is not going to be abused is fanciful.
There is more money for the bureaucracy. More power for the bureaucracy. It doesn’t establish any system of accountability. As a friend of my said earlier today:
“It’s the same old pattern: from 9/11 to Parkland and beyond, in which government bungles, Americans die, and government therefore doubles down on its own power and prerogatives. Remember: there were more than adequate laws and mechanisms to prevent the Parkland massacre, then and now. What was missing — and is still missing — is a pathway to restore the accountability of government to ordinary Americans that should exist, and manifestly does not.”
I know why Scott has to be seen as “doing something.” That doesn’t mean we have to think it is useful, or wise, or necessary and for sure it is not conservative.