The new principal walked toward me early one morning, coffee tumbler in hand, its steam wafting into the cool autumn air. It was 1995, my second year as a school resource officer.
“Deputy Jennings, I cannot believe that student just cussed me out in my own office!”
Mr. Clark (not his real name) was not happy. His previous school was in a peaceful, rural area where he knew the names of all his students and most of their family members. This high school was different.
“Just wait until the parents and grandparents come here and do the same,” I half-jokingly replied. (Neither the parents nor grandparents did; I believe the mother took her son out of school by his left earlobe).
Today, everyone has a social media platform to curse the president, the National Rifle Association and anyone else with whom they disagree. Civil discourse is a lost art.
My 38 years of law enforcement experience includes being wounded in a shoot-out with two armed robbers, one of whom illegally obtained a rifle from Kmart. Back then, Rosie O’Donnell was the spokesperson for Kmart.
After the Las Vegas massacre on Oct. 1, I wrote that there were no easy answers to evil; there still isn’t.
The Florida school massacre has spawned a new wave of activists calling for more gun laws and vilifying the NRA. They are misinformed and are being manipulated by the media.
Blaming the NRA for a mass murder is like blaming Weight Watchers for obesity or the American Kennel Club for dog attacks. NRA members don’t commit mass murders. However, NRA-trained citizens use firearms to deter and prevent violent crimes daily.
Demonstrators demand a five-minute cure for a 25-year-old symptom, and they won’t allow good facts to stand in the way of bad laws.
There is no simple strategy to combat the evil that permeates social media, video entertainment and the hearts and minds of wicked people. Criminals do not obey gun laws, whether there are 20 or 20,000 new gun laws.
The next two school shooters have already procured their firearms and have planned their attacks. They are merely waiting for the time and date that will enhance their notoriety.
Law enforcement nationwide, in unity with their school districts, are proactively planning deterrence and reaction to the next shooter. I recommend that off-duty and retired peace officers be allowed to carry their firearms on school campuses at any time.
We can plan and train, but enhanced background checks must be a part of continual deterrence.
To prevent future violent crimes, there should be a national database of all children being treated for emotional or behavioral problems, especially those being treated with psychotropic drugs. When they reach the age of majority and wish to purchase a firearm, the background check will include this database. A physician or a judge, or both, would have to adjudicate their mental condition prior to the purchase of a firearm.
The millions of people who are addicted to heroin and fentanyl should also be placed into a national database preventing them from purchasing a firearm.
Will databases and background checks prevent all shootings? No, but it is one step in a multidisciplinary approach.
Will confiscating everyone’s firearms, all 325 million, prevent future gun violence? No, because criminals do not obey laws.
Finally, instead of blaming innocent people and organizations for the acts of evildoers, prosecute the criminals.
Is there anyone else angry at the Florida shooter besides me?
Dan Jennings is a retired military police captain, a retired police sergeant and a lifetime NRA member. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org