OAKLAND, Calif. — No sooner had the smoke cleared when the canned clamor for more “common sense gun safety measures” began.
Those are Orwellian code words for further criminalization of law-abiding gun owners in violation of the Second Amendment. But it did not take long for the actual facts to emerge behind the horrible murders of 17 innocents at the high school in Parkland, Fla.
“I’m going to be a professional school shooter,” said one “Nikolas Cruz” in a YouTube post five months ago.
The FBI couldn’t locate the person with this rare name. Then in January a tipster actually identified Cruz and related his apparent plan to shoot up a school. The FBI failed to forward this explicit threat to its Miami office.
At the local level, police were called 39 times for service involving Cruz. One school kicked him out for fighting and another for misbehavior. His new school, apparently fearing he might bring a weapon, forbade him from having a backpack. Fellow students feared what he might do.
Criminal charges for terrorist threats, assault and shooting at a neighbor’s chickens could have been brought; convictions would have made him ineligible to buy firearms. Yet no prosecution was brought.
Cruz planned carefully and picked the ultimate soft target — a “gun-free” school zone.
There were no trained teachers with hidden firearms to defend against an armed intruder bent on murder. The nightmare of all nightmares would happen. Defenseless victims were gunned down, some of them brave teachers and a coach who gave their lives to save others.
The countless Americans who recoiled in horror and mourned include good citizens who own firearms and who have children in schools. Yet instantly, pre-programed attacks were launched against the NRA for its support of the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun owners. The goal is to criminalize exercise of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
Under federal law, a person aged 18 or more who passes the background check may purchase a rifle from a gun dealer. Eighteen-year olds can vote and join the military.
Yet because negligent government bureaucrats failed to prevent a massacre, the cry goes out to ban rifle sales to millions of responsible citizens age 18 or over.
The most popular rifle favored by millions of Americans is the AR-15, which fires only one shot per trigger pull and is not a military rifle.
The Supreme Court ruled in D.C. v. Heller (2008) that the Second Amendment protects the arms that are typically possessed for lawful purposes by law-abiding citizens. That includes the AR-15. Yet because negligent government actors failed to prevent a massacre, the cry goes out to ban this rifle.
The expired 1994 Clinton ban on “assault weapons” — a propaganda term for modern sporting rifles — had zero effect on crime. A Department of Justice study verified that. Yet a similar ban is now advocated because government failed to act and prevent the murders.
American students deserve better than to be placed in “gun free” killing zones. They deserve better than to live in an authoritarian regime in which only the military, the police and criminals possess firearms.
And they deserve to live in a society in which all provisions of the Bill of Rights are respected, where those who claim to be law enforcement actually do their jobs, and where they are protected in fact from those who would do harm.
Stephen P. Halbrook, Ph.D., J.D., is Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute, 100 Swan Way, Oakland, CA 94621, and author of “The Founders’ Second Amendment, Gun Control in the Third Reich,” and “Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France.”