On Feb. 14, a very disturbed and well-armed Nikolas Cruz, 19, walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., slaughtered 17 people, injured a dozen more and calmly walked out with the crowd of terrified, fleeing students.
He was captured after purchasing a drink at a Subway inside a Walmart store and sitting for awhile at a McDonald’s.
According to published reports, Cruz, whom the Florida Department of Children and Families in Broward County says has a history of autism, ADHD and depression, also has a violent history.
His aberrant, violent behavior raised many red flags, yet no official agency — whether it be children’s services, which determined Cruz was at a “low risk or harming himself or others”; the local police, who responded numerous times to disturbances at his home; the school district, which at least once alerted a crisis unit to get him counseling; or the FBI, which failed to investigate a very specific Jan. 5 hotline call — took effective action to prevent last Wednesday’s slaughter.
The failure of these agencies to contain a young man, who had posted a YouTube video stating he wanted to be “a professional school shooter,” is unbelievable and unforgivable.
Guns can be scary. Guns in the hands of the wrong people are dangerous.
Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, including Cameron Kasky and Emma Gonzalez, are taking action to prevent a future tragedy by planning a “March for Our Lives,” March 24 in Washington, D.C.
The group is seeking “stronger gun legislation” and, according to Kasky, is aiming the message at politicians who accept money from the NRA.
In June 2016, the U.S. Senate, in a 47-53 vote, defeated amendments that would have added additional gun control regulations to those already on the books.
The first amendment, sponsored by Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., required background checks for all gun sales (including gun shows) and additional information to be added to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
The second, by Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, would have increased funding for that background check system. The amendment would have also made clearer the wording regarding mental health issues and the ability to purchase guns.
Maybe now the amendments sponsored by Murphy and Grassley will rise from the ashes, spurred on by the efforts of the young survivors of this latest tragedy.
“See something, say something” has long been the mantra since the 9/11 attacks on this country by terrorists.
Perhaps, a better slogan should be directed at law enforcement agencies and the legal system: “If someone reports something, DO SOMETHING!”
History has again repeated itself with the FBI interviewing Orlando, Fla., terrorist Omar Mateen at least twice before he killed 49 people and wounded 58 others at the Pulse nightclub June 12, 2016.
Why do agencies designated to protect American citizens continue to remain asleep at the switch after so many horrific massacres?
My anger is with Cruz and the FBI.
My heart is with those devastated by the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School; the Columbine massacre in April 1999; the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Conn.; the 2006 shooting at West Nickel Mines Amish one-room schoolhouse in Lancaster; and the survivors and families of those lost in the all-too-many other mass murders in this nation.
My hope is for the children of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who, from the depths of their sadness, have taken the lead and are seeking to make something good come from the horrific and devastating loss they have experienced.