Three steps to reduce needless shootings in schools

I have been watching and reading some of the news with respect to the bad school shooting that took place yesterday in Parkland.

Here are my thoughts in 3 areas:

1) all school staff need to be mandatory reporters when it comes to threats, either threats per se or threats with weapons;

2) all schools of a certain size and/or all schools in which a student has made a threat with weapons should consider the use of trained security dogs;

3) permit to purchase weapons should be considered.

It may be that MI schools or Seattle schools already do these things, but I do not know.

1) I could be wrong, but it appears from the news and the reporting re the shooting in Parkland, that local police were relatively unaware of the guy, his guns and his threats.

It seems that if and when school staff must deal with the guy as a threat and/or forbid him from being on campus with a backpack and/or expel him from school for bad behavior, that local police should be or will have been informed, “John Doe has been making threats. The threats are . . .”

Maybe they did these things in the case in Parkland; maybe not. I don’t know; it has not been reported in the news that the school staff did so, but maybe it is automatic. So, had the local police in Parkland been informed of this kid’s threats?

And local police, if they did not take immediate action by arrest and charge, it would have been good for them, given the vulnerable nature of schools, to occasionally visit the social media postings of the person regarded as a threat.

It appears that many of the fellow students at Parkland, Florida knew the guy was bad or a threat, but that local police in Parkland had had little contact with him and/or that local police did not periodically visit the social media postings of this person, who is alleged to have been disciplined or expelled for making threats.

In our society, doctors, nurses, counselours and others are “mandatory reporters” of “suspected sexual abuse.” There are one or more persons actually convicted of failure to report, in Washington state, when he or she knew of sexual bad conduct and did not inform police.

If the staff of the high school in Parkland had not reported the threats of the guy to the police, then, Florida and every other state needs to make sure that school staff are mandatory reporters of threats–or at least, threats with weapons.

Any individual kid who experienced or witnessed the fellow making a threat should have reported the threat to police or ensured that the report was made to police.

Right now, in the background TV, I am listening to the FBI guy say that they received a note about the guy in September 2017 but did not follow up on it very much, because they did not know who it was on youtube who wrote something about wanting to be a professional school shooter, name Nikolas Cruz . . .

The FBI did not follow up because they could not locate the guy, but local police, presumably should have known and been informed of any of his threats.

Maybe Parkland school staff had informed police; maybe not. Maybe the school staff or the school resource officer or local police were visiting the guy’s social media postings once in a while, given his threats, but if so, it is not being reported in the news media.

2) I believe that it would be good to have every high school or middle school of a certain size and every school which has been the site of threats with bombs or firearms to have a trained security dog generally on campus. Whether that would be all schools with 800 or all schools with 1500 or 2000, I do not know. Parkland was a school with 3000 students, apparently . . . and it appears that there was one guard, who was also the assistant football coach.

The guy gave his life to protect some kids and we commend his valor. No one has mentioned his having a weapon sufficient to stop the gunman.

In the case of the Parkland shooting, the guy entered and shot and wandered around and then police finally arrested him about 1 mile away from campus. 1 mile away is a 20 minute walk away or a 10 minute run. It appears that it was about an hour after the first shots that the gunman was arrested; a guy with weapons and evil intent was wandering about for approximately an hour after his first murderous shots.

I would hope and some would assume that if there were a trained security dog on campus, that either the dog would be among the dead or the evil-doer have been nabbed far more quickly than after an hour. That is just a guess, but one dog’s fee would be more than covered by the surgeries on some of the wounded.

Lets assume that none of the local school board have been shooting at the range . . . but the truth is that it is easy to miss “your” target and lots of people without training or practice will miss “your” target. There are some persons without training who will completely miss a 2 by 2 paper at 20 feet. The security dog is fast and small and silent; the gunman in Parkland killed the human security guard of the school who blocked the path of some bullets to save the kids. Would the gunman in Parkland, Florida have been able to hit a security dog intent on taking him down? We don’t know and some of the time, the dog will attack from behind or the side.

A lot of people would have been happy to have seen a trained security dog have made a disabling attack on the gunman of Parkland, or to have died trying. And if the gunman did give his attention to shooting the dog, a human might have been able to hit or tackle him from the side.

3) States have different laws with respect to the purchase of firearms. Some states require a permit to purchase and the “permit to purchase” in at least some states is issued by and partly subject to review of local police, who include in their decisions threats the person has made.

So, I would support a permit to purchase program with strong safeguards to prevent frivolous or careless denials. It should be noted that Omar Mateen, the gunman of the nightclub, has been removed from a job because of making threats. A permit to purchase will prevent some of these people from purchasing weapons.

I believe half the public should have weapons of many different kinds . . . and I also think it is reasonable to say that a guy who has been making threats of harm, for no good reason, and threats of harm with a weapon, for no good reason, should be excluded from purchasing certain weapons.

Mike Ritland is reportedly a former Navy Seal who recommends the use of trained security dogs in schools, and an article of his at some website includes the following clip on youtube . . .

k9 police dogs in action . . . something we would hope to see sometimes used on some evil-doers with guns.

Ritland writes,

Security dogs are a non-lethal approach to apprehending criminals, deterring would-be active shooters, and maintaining a safe and secure weapon-free option in our schools. No measure by itself is fool proof, but I look at security like I do cold weather. The more layers you have to protect you, the better off you will be.

Security dogs offer the single thickest and safest layer of protection for our children in schools.

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