How to Frame the School-Shooting Problem Without Partisan Stumping
By Adam Salomon - March 25, 2018

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of articles taking a non-partisan approach to deconstructing the problem of school shootings, and discussing solutions.

Post Parkland: Are We Missing The Mark?

People love narratives, and why not? They help us cope with a sudden tragedy when the pieces of the puzzle are either missing, hard to comprehend or even when we find it hard to face facts. Here we stand looking down the barrel of days gone by, salt in our still-healing wounds questioning things we could have done, should have done or would have done had we not let narratives get in the way. But in trying to understand school shootings and how to move forward in their wake, are we missing the mark?

What follows will not be popular among Republicans, nor should it be. Likewise, it will not be popular among Democrats, nor should it be. But it needs to be said to serve as a voice of reason in the aftermath of an event that somehow divided us when it should have brought each and every one of us together.

Failures of Epic Proportions

The story begins in February 1996 when Barry Loukaitis, a ninth-grade student who was continuously teased, arrived at Frontier Junior High in Moses Lake, Washington dressed in black and armed with a rifle. By the end of this school rampage, two students and a teacher had lost their lives. As unfavorable and vile as this shooting seemed at the time, it was only the beginning.

Two fatal shootings occurred in 1997. In October, Luke Woodham, then 16, killed his mother, went to his high school in Pearl, Mississippi with a gun, and shot nine students. Two of them died during the rampage. Two months later, during the holiday season, three students were killed and five injured, as a Michael Carneal, fourteen, brought a gun to a West Paducah, Kentucky school and opened fire in the hallway.

In March 1998, the death toll reached five during a shooting in Jonesboro, Arkansas. The shooting occurred when Andrew Golden, 11, and Mitchell Johnson, 13, pulled the fire alarm and waited in a nearby woods for the student population to make their way out of the building. Once they had a clear view of the students, they opened fire and claimed the lives of four girls and a teacher.

Three other shootings occurred that year, including one at a Fayetteville, Tennessee high school parking lot on May 19th. Only two days later in Springfield, Oregon, two teenagers were killed and more than 20 injured when Kip Kinkel, then 15, opened fire at his high school. In addition, Kip’s parents were found dead at their home.

There aren’t always warning signs. Among these school shootings, only three of the killers showed signs of aggression beforehand. Barry Loukaitis, who opened fire at his school in Moses Lake, Washington, wrote poetry about killing with the “ruthlessness of a machine” weeks before the incident. Kip Kinkel, who murdered his parents, then some students at his school in Springfield, Oregon, told a class that he dreamed of becoming a killer. Finally, Mitchell Johnson, the gunman at Jonesboro, became more aggressive in nature after his parents’ divorce in 1994.

The public questioned the mental health of the individuals involved, but did nothing. People even accepted the findings as “normal.” In fact, Scott Johnson, Mitchell’s father, stated, “He started talking back and always pushed the limits. Mitchell saw a therapist on one occasion after the divorce.” However, his mother, Gretchen, asserted, “A therapist for what? This is a little boy who played football and basketball and loved school.”

All of this happened before 1999, the year Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold entered Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Columbine ripped open the wounds of those still healing and exposed a fear we never thought possible. Harris and  Klebold entered Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado armed with several guns, explosives and knives and murdered 12 students and one teacher. They injured 21 additional people, and three more were injured while attempting to escape the school. After exchanging gunfire with responding police officers, the pair committed suicide. The blame game started, and heavy metal musician Marilyn Manson seemed to find himself directly in the crosshairs of social controversy.

Eric Johns, a member of the now-defunct metal band Simple Aggression, was quick to defend Manson at the time, “Perhaps the reasons for such tragedies are right under all our noses and we just don’t want to see it,” he said in an interview. “We don’t want to believe that the society we raise our children in is somehow flawed.”

The “Motor City Madman” Ted Nugent, an avid gun enthusiast, chimed in during an interview with Metal Edge Magazine following the attack:

“I think Marilyn Manson and the bloody video games are silly and inconsequential — if parents give guidance…  In the absence of any real parenting, Marilyn Manson and the recent video games and movies all of a sudden mean something.”

Jaysinn, a member of the Kentucky-based band Crush, wants to know:

“Why didn’t anyone show them some attention before this?  Is this what one has to do to get some attention?  If it is true that the music did play a part in this, how can the parents be so disconnected with their children that they aren’t aware that they have a hate-filled website, making bombs, or planning the mass-murder of their peers?”

Years passed, and many other shootings occurred, including one at Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 2007 by Seung-Hui Cho, 23, who went on to kill 32 people with a Glock 19 pistol and Walther P22 pistol before taking his own life. Like many before him, Cho began showing signs of mental instability during his adolescence, talking about suicide and murder during therapy sessions. However, the Virginia Tech professors who did take the time to notice Cho’s troubles “ended up doing little more than coddling him — rewarding his most troubling writing with grades of B and even A,” reported the Washington Post.

Just a few years later on December 14, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut, 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children between six and seven years old, as well as six adult staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary. Prior to driving to the school, he shot and killed his mother. As first responders arrived at the scene, Lanza committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.

The shooting prompted renewed debate about gun control in the United States, including proposals for making the background-check system universal, and for new federal and state gun legislation

banning the sale and manufacture of certain types of semi-automatic firearms and magazines with more than ten rounds of ammunition.

Ultimately, very little was done in the wake of Sandy Hook. The calls following the attack during a Las Vegas country music festival on October 1, 2017, were no different.

What Makes Parkland Different?

Fast-forward to February 14th, 2018 in the Parkland section of Coral Springs, Florida, when Nikolas Cruz entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School armed with an AR-15, murdered 17 students and left 15 others injured. When the issue of stronger gun control came up in the media, the high school students in Parkland jumped as if on command and issued tear-filled pleas while expressing anger and disgust at the NRA and President Donald Trump.

While at an anti-gun rally during the days that followed, Douglas High student Emma Gonzalez simply called, “B.S.” toward the organization known for their political clout and a president everyone loves to hate as tears streamed down her eyes.

Their anger is 100 percent justified, but given the facts emerging in Parkland’s wake, are they misguided this time around? Like many prior massacres on school grounds, there were warning signs — many of them — and this time they did not go unheard. Cruz had received mental health treatment but stopped going to a clinic, Broward Mayor Beam Furr told CNN and NPR. “We missed the signs,” said Furr, a former teacher. “We should have seen some of the signs.”

His social media posts also showed his love of weaponry. In the images, he sported dark bandanas over his face and beanies and baseball caps on his head. In one post, he wielded knives between his fingers as though they were claws. In another, he showed off a small black handgun. Cruz even appeared to have left an ominous comment on a Mississippi man’s YouTube channel in September. Ben Bennight, a Gulfport bail bondsman who goes by “Ben the Bondsman” on YouTube, said in a video posted Wednesday night that he spoke to FBI agents in September about a comment left on one of his videos by someone with the username “nikolas cruz.”

“I’m going to be a professional school shooter,” the commenter wrote. Bennight immediately reported it to FBI field agents in Mississippi, who visited him the following day for more information.

Systemic Failures

On Jan. 5, the FBI received a call on a tip line from a person close to Nikolas Cruz. The caller provided information on “Cruz’s gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting,” the FBI said.

Cruz even had a tortured history at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, where he had been suspended for fights and having ammunition in his backpack. He was later expelled for “disciplinary reasons,” and was re-enrolled at a Broward school for at-risk youths.

The family who took him in immediately after his mother died told police he had threatened others with a gun months before the Parkland rampage, records show. But according to NPR, the school system overhauled its policies to reduce the number of children going into the juvenile justice system in order to curb what is known as the “school-to-prison” pipeline.

Under the program, non-violent misdemeanors would be handled by the schools instead of the police. Although the newly-implemented system helped many students, proper authorities were never notified of Cruz’s actions and comments.

Yet, according to a USA Today article, the Broward County sheriff’s office received 18 calls about Cruz’s violence, threats and guns:

Broward County deputies received at least 18 calls warning them about Nikolas Cruz from 2008 to 2017, including concerns that he “planned to shoot up the school” and other threats and acts of violence before he was accused of killing 17 people at a high school.

The warnings, made by concerned people close to Cruz, came in phone calls to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, records show. At least five callers mentioned concern over his access to weapons, according to the documents. None of those warnings led to direct intervention.

In April, 2016, an unidentified caller told police that Cruz had been collecting guns and knives. The caller was “concerned (Cruz) will kill himself one day and believes he could be a school shooter in the making,” according to call details released by the Sheriff’s Office.

A second cousin asked police to take away Cruz’s guns after his mom died Nov. 1st. “Nikolas is reported to have rifles and it is requested that (deputies) recover these weapons,” the dispatcher noted from the call.

To make matters worse, the Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that instead of rushing in, several Broward sheriff’s deputies waited outside the high school while Cruz went on his rampage, according to other officers on the scene. These allegations emerged one day after another deputy, assigned as a school guard, resigned for also failing to enter the building. In all, at least three deputies waited outside, including School Resource Officer Scot Peterson.

Two additional deputies are being investigated over whether they mishandled warnings about Cruz in the months before the shooting. The FBI has admitted it failed to investigate similar claims, and the Florida Department of Children & Families, which looked into concerns about Cruz, concluded that he was no risk to himself or others.

While Emma Gonzalez and fellow classmate David Hogg are leading students nationwide to walk out of schools in favor of stronger gun control legislation, are their calls of “Enough is enough” missing the mark?

They do seem extremely misguided and even disingenuous given the long series of failures which have come to surface in Parkland’s wake.

The narrative of “more gun control” just doesn’t seem to fit the bill this time around. Andrew Pollack, whose 18-year-old daughter Meadow was shot nine times, said during a listening session with President Trump that he wouldn’t rest until students are protected from future shootings:

“I am here because my daughter has no voice. She was taken from us. This shouldn’t happen. We need to come together as a country and protect our children. Not think about different laws. Not as different parties. We go to the airport, I can’t get on the plane with a bottle of water, but we leave some animal to walk into a classroom and shoot our children. We protect airports, we protect concerts, stadiums, embassies, the Department of Education that I walked in today that has a security guard in the elevator. One school shooting and we all should’ve fixed it. And I’m pissed because my daughter I’m not going to see again. She’s not here. We all need to come together and come up with the right idea. It’s not about gun laws right now. That’s another fight, another battle. Let’s fix the schools. Security, consultants, whatever you have to do. And then you can battle it out over gun laws.”

One of the attendees at that very same session didn’t give his name but voiced support for arming teachers. He said he lost his sister in the Florida shooting and told the president that the attack “could have been a very different situation” if teachers were trained to shoot:

“Law enforcement takes seven, eight minutes to get there” in an emergency. If a teacher or a security guard has a concealed license and a firearm on their waist they’re able to easily stop the situation. Or the bad guy — I’ll put it that way — would not even go near the school knowing that someone could fight back against them.”

Patrick Neville, who survived the Columbine attack in 1999, agrees. In his current role as minority leader in the Colorado House of Representatives, he introduced a bill that would allow people with a concealed carry permit to bring guns into K-12 schools, arguing that more kids would have survived the attack had teachers been armed:

“This act would allow every law-abiding citizen who holds a concealed carry permit, issued from their chief law enforcement officer, the right to carry concealed in order to defend themselves and most importantly our children from the worst-case scenarios.”

In order to move forward in a productive manner, we need to know where we are. Judging by the response of the media, the politicians and students, we are simply not sure of our location. All we know is that we are at a crossroad.

Do we heed the media’s advice and let the words of Andrew Pollack fall on deaf ears? Do we follow the controversial advice of Neville as someone who has lived through the ordeal? Or do we face our fears, ask the questions that need to be asked and confront a fatally flawed system that allowed a tragedy of this magnitude to occur?

Something is fundamentally and morally wrong with us if we allow our children to get killed and not ask, “What happened?” without jumping to partisan attacks.

Maybe we afraid that the answers will present inconvenient truths that challenge our personal beliefs or biases.


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  • Poppo

    Of course, the focal point is to strip yet another freedom from the American People.
    It is not just ‘gun control’, it is ‘people control’, the goal of the majority of government officials. Defend the Constitution? No so much of a priority among lawmakers.

  • lulu

    What does this article suggest? That society is deeply flawed, broken and in need of an overhaul? We have drifted into an abyss of a valueless black hole that has no fair structure or cohesion on family, friend nor community level. We are fragmented, lost and
    Where are the outspoken think tanks, peace advocates, government lobbyists who think beyond their own self interest?
    A fresh start seems implied but unlikely any time soon.

    • Poppo

      We have abandoned God and His principles. Broken families are the norm, fatherless kids with little or no guidance from mothers struggling to put food on the table. Human interaction has been replaced by video games. Face to face discussions have given way to texting into a small box. Teachers are more interested in indoctrinating children than teaching them. The media is more interested in pushing an agenda. Hollyweird exposes our children to violence and rampant sex as desirable and normal. Our political leaders have morphed from citizens serving for the good of the country into career politicians whose only desire is the power, prestige, and financial gains availability to the Ruling Elite.

  • SnakePlissken

    Almost all school shootings since Columbine could have been prevented by locking secondary doors during school hours (people can exit, but cannot enter) and requiring anyone who enters during school hours to enter through the administration office before accessing the area where the kids are. Just some simple physical security just like we have at nearly every workplace could have saved lives… but let’s blame guns.

  • SnakePlissken

    Blaming guns is pointless. Do people believe that guns can understand you and interpret your emotions when you yell at them? If so, do you believe that the guns can telepathically communicate with other guns and have a mind meld, and if so, do you think they can prevent people from picking them up and using them inappropriately? Blaming guns is pointless. It is peeing in the wind.

  • SnakePlissken

    Every school shooter in recent memory had been prescribed powerful psychotropic medications for depression or anxiety that are known to cause suicidal and homicidal thought in young people. *Why is nobody talking about this?* Is it because Big Pharma is trying to sell you pills every 15 mins on mainstream news shows? Ask your doctor if turning your kid into a psycho is right for you..

  • SnakePlissken

    Universal Background Checks are a trick. Don’t fall for it. The ONLY reason the democrats are pushing for Universal Background Checks is to get around laws prohibiting nationwide registration, because the ONLY way to implement Universal Background Checks is to implement a nationwide gun registry! And a nationwide gun registry is what the Brady Campaign says will enable them to get to their end goal of banning all guns from civilian ownership. They’ve come right out and said this. It is not a secret.

  • SnakePlissken

    As noted in the article, there were MANY red flags and MANY opportunities for MULTIPLE law enforcement and social services agencies to intervene, including armed police officers hiding behind their cars while the shooting was going on. Why is nobody holding them accountable?

  • Fred

    we said when they started gun free zones that it would only stop the good guys . what about ssri drugs that most of these people have been on when they commit these mass murders? all of our problems can’t be solved with a new drug !the society that has been created is flawed one new law is not going to fix it . our children are our most important resourse ,pay attention to them .

  • Carl McWilliams

    “But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” (Revelation 12:12)

    • 45clive

      And Jesus returned from heaven, saw his shadow and declared, “Thou shalt have seven more generations of evil”. The Bible – epilogue.

      • Carl McWilliams

        Revelation 22:18-20 King James Version (KJV)

        18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

        19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

        20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

  • sama81

    This is not a complex problem; it is a PEOPLE problem. More people are killed by the medical profession, drugs, automobiles, and whatever else than guns,,,EVERY YEAR. Hollywood and their violent movies along with “Kill the Cops” video games, and violent rap music are warping these kids minds. And mindless parents aren’t concerned until something happens; then its the GUN’s Fault. Strange, in the 60+ years I have owned and used guns, none of my guns have jumped up and killed anyone. Get a grip people and deal with the real problem; begin to parent your kids and deprive “little Johnny or Little Suzy of some of this crap that is warping them.

  • Hoythunderfh

    Our schools teach White students that they are immoral and contemptible if they don’t support White Genocide that’s being carried out by massive third-world immigration and forced assimilation in ALL White countries.

    Their teachers never tell them, “White self-hatred is SICK!!!“

    Their teachers claim to be anti-racist. What they are is anti-White.

    Anti-racist is a code word for anti-White.

  • mutonic2db

    Psychotropic Drugs & Mass Shootings: Why I Took a Gun to School

    Then-16-year-old Corey Baadsgaard and his father tell the story of how Corey took a rifle to his school and held 23 classmates hostage. He was on psychotropic drugs prescribed for depression and anxiety, but his parents were not told that the drugs caused amnesia, hallucination, and homicidal tendencies.

    Poor kid had no idea what was going on.

  • Sunshine Kid

    Let me first quote from history:

    “A militia when properly formed are in fact the people themselves…and include, according to the past and general usuage {SIC} of the states, all men capable of bearing arms… “To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.” – Richard Henry Lee, Federal Farmer No. 18, January 25, 1788”

    The current attempt at gun grabbing is to raise the age of weapon ownership, but consider the facts that of all the mass shootings except one were done by persons over the age of 21. And the one under the age of 21 was known and identified as mentally defective. I remember gun safety being taught in fifth grade. I remember targets on the playground. I remember how it was when all sorts of weapons were carried by pre-teens, and no one saw any danger in that at the time – nor were there any major accidents because of these things.

    What happened is socialism/communism has crept into the education system, the media and politics, and now everyone who is not comfortable with a gun is afraid of the gun because it is a gun. Even the SHAPE of a gun can send some idiots off in hysterics!

    • Carl McWilliams

      “What happened is socialism/communism has crept into the education system, the media and politics…”. You are spot-on, Sunshine Kid.
      Our Constitutional Republic and the RULE OF LAW is under siege by stealthy Marxists/Socialists within all levels of our federal, state and local governments and public school systems.

      • Sunshine Kid

        I only hope that the rule of law is not subjugated by those who think they are above the law. I wish to see them removed from power by the law.

  • Clearpoint

    You list numerous school shootings, and then come up with some twisted pretzel logic that absolves guns and the profit-making peddlers of guns from fault, and severs guns from gun violence itself. Of course guns are not the underlying problem; but it’s the easy availability of guns that can quickly and efficiently turn the small emotional problems of a troubled and isolated individual into the large, violent and tragic societal problems we have experienced far too often over the past 20 years. “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely” – Lord Acton. A gun to an emotionally troubled youth is the power to avenge all the wrong that he feels has been done to him by the world; and if you put a gun into the hands of such an angry and troubled youth, you are empowering him to act out violently.

    Enough already with 200+ year quotes from a long buried past, and the ideological scapegoating that comes with it, from full grown adults, who have had more than enough time to deal with the reality of gun violence, and who continue to keep themselves a safe distance from it. Parkland is different, at least I sure hope so. What makes it different is that for the very first time, the kids are not deferring to so-called responsible adults to fix the problem. Twenty years of repeating the same failure over and over again are enough, so they are moving forward of their own accord. Kudos to Pope Francis for recognizing this and encouraging them on. And shame on those of you who continue to view this critical issue through an imaginary haze of ideology and politics.

    • Roy bean

      I really don’t think the children are ‘ moving forward of their own accord’ as you put it. Either you’ve never raised children or are allowing yourself to be spoon-fed by the MSM, right?

      • Clearpoint

        The point is they are not waiting for the politicians to fix the problem. They are acting politically, communicating primarily via social media, not the MSM, without the politicians, who have failed to resolve the school shooting and gun violence problems with appropriate laws, over and over and over again. What we got from the politicians was nothing more than what they always offer when these tragedies occur — prayers and condolences; accusations of mental illness; idiotic “solutions” of arming teachers with guns; and above all else, that better gun control laws are not the answer.

        My question to you, is how in the world has it come to this? Where adults, who should and do know better, steadfastly refuse to exercise the leadership and courage needed to do the right thing? And where teenagers, who are far less capable than adults in matters like these, are the ones who have to step up, in the absence of the adults, to do the right thing?

        When the history books close on this very selfish era, the judgment rendered will be one where the elites, who control the economic and political system, and their lackeys who feed off of the corrupt system, considered their individual freedom to pursue profit and power far more important than human life, and far more important than societal cohesion and wellbeing.

  • ICFubar

    I suffered reading about half of this codswallop before giving up that this mass of words would amount to anything that I might find informational. A person would be better off reading the much shorter and to the point article by Yoichi Shimasu titled “Commando Strike in Parkland is a Polygon Puzzle” if they wish to get a handle on this latest act of terrorism perpetrated against an unsuspecting public and the Daily Bell it seems..

    Who are the Daily Bell? Who are its supporters? Are the writers at the Daily Bell just turning blind eyes to what in some cases is overwhelming evidence that all is not as the official story line seems or are they willfully being deceitful?

  • Samarami

    In fact I solved the gun violence problem some 45 years ago. I rid myself of television. Sam

    • Roy bean

      C’mon Sam, not even reruns of ‘Gilligan’s Island’? Say it ain’t so man!

      • Samarami

        Even old Gilligan had embedded in and was infested with the collectivist mentality. At the time I felt that to rid myself of collectivist infiltration in my newly free brain it would be necessary to come totally clean of all media. Long before the rigors of the web. Alas….. Sam

  • Randy

    OK, it may sound to some like an over simplification of the cause of the current scene, but the REAL base of the problem is the 100% corrupted legal system! EVERYTHING is funneled into and then back out of the legal system, no matter how insane the legal system has become! This is done for a reason, you know.
    The perverted and corrupted fake judges just LOVE higher crime rates, despite their claims to the contrary, because more crime means more money for them. Is that really so hard to figure out?
    Nearly everybody in society is totally enamored with the legal system, and have been for quite some time now. And they are totally abused by the legal system, yet they still defend it, like someone in an abusive relationship, they just can’t bear the thought of breaking away, so they suffer all manner of indignities and assaults from it.
    From the radio shows of Perry Mason to the TV series and many other shows and movies about it, people have been brainwashed into thinking that the legal system is a bastion of justice, when it is anything but that. Any true justice that is found in the legal system just happened to fall out of it by pure accident! The legal system violates its own reasons for existence on a daily basis, committing crime after crime upon the hapless victims who stumble or are dragged into it. One has to only study the operations of the legal system with one eye open to see this.
    How can a corrupted man or woman in any position claim to know what is best for thee and me? Unmask the fraud and hypocrisy of the legal system’s actors, and you will win, because there is no amount of fraud that ANY man or woman has a right to commit against you. Do you see this? As to the question of what will we replace the completely corrupted legal system with if we get rid of it, I cannot say for sure, but what could possibly be worse for us than what we have now??


    • Roy bean

      I think this is a paraphrased quote from Winston Churchill- ” the American justice system is without a doubt, abominable, until compared with all the others on Earth”.

  • Roy bean

    This sort of problem (mass murder) has been around for a very long time. Please refer to- Dr. Manuel St. Martin “Running Amok: A Modern Perspective on a Culture Bound Syndrome”!PO=54.2553