After the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012, Gun Tests magazine tried to steer the conversation toward a concept everyone can agree on. People who love guns and who love to shoot must be the first line of defense when it comes to denying firearms access to the wrong kinds of people. That means a scrupulous dedication to the disciplines we hold dear – safes, action and trigger locks, segregated ammo, and quick-opening lock boxes. We the people who own and enjoy firearms need to pay serious attention to security – and our focus must never waver. We can’t forget that the Sandy Hook shooter shot his own mother with her own semi-automatic rifle. It’s too easy and flip to say “ban this” and “ban that” without getting to this crucial element of firearms security.
We also posited that it’s up to us to be sufficiently aware of our environment and the people around us – to be on the alert for people who might commit these horrible acts of violence against innocents. Following the Parkland massacre, there have been many discussions about how, and even if, we can spot those sufficiently deranged who might be capable of committing mass murder. But we have to try – like the grandmother in Everett, WA, who led police to her violence-prone Aces High School grandson and probably stopped another mass killing.
In the Parkland incident, the “see something, say something” concept went horribly wrong. Law enforcement at the local and federal levels had numerous chances to stop the shooter and failed to do so.
Gun Tests readers are just as horrified as anyone else by what happened in Florida. Our condolences go out to the families and to the larger Parkland community who have to bear the consequences of this horrible act. Further, Gun Tests readers, like other responsible gun owners, want something done to stop school shootings.
As knowledgeable gun owners, Gun Tests readers know that paying lip service to restrictions and limitations isn’t the answer. Guns aren’t going to magically disappear.
But gun owners, in particular, do have a responsibility to report erratic and potentially dangerous behavior in their communities.
Because we have access to guns, it’s up to gun owners to be the front line of responsible gun ownership and report when we see behavior like what Nikolas Cruz exhibited. We can’t stand on the sidelines and say ‘It’s not my business’ and move on. The trouble is, will we get law enforcement to follow up effectively? That clearly did not happen in the Parkland event.
What is demoralizing to gun owners is that if we “see something” and then “say something,” as was done at least twice in this case, will the government respond appropriately?
The FBI has already released astatementadmitting ‘protocols were not followed in responding to detailed tips about Nikolas Cruz. Twice, people saw something, said something, and the FBI failed to act.
The second event occurred last fall when a Mississippi bail bondsman and YouTube video-blogger noticed a threatening comment left on one of his videos. “I’m going to be a professional school shooter,” said a user named Nikolas Cruz.
The threat was left on Ben Bennight’sYouTube channel. Bennight alerted the FBI’s Mississippi field office and “said something” in two follow-up interviews with FBI agents.
Legitimate gun owners want law enforcement to have the tools to stop such people before they commit mass murder.The FBI could have pursued an investigation afterJanuary 5, when the tips were received. This could have included alerting all state and local law enforcement, all gun stores, and area school districts of Cruz’s identity and the situation.
We believe gun owners are willing to police our own ranks and report dangerous gun use and threats to people or places. But we have to have some confidence that if we ‘say something,’ then law enforcement will ‘do something’ to stop the violence before it occurs.