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Guest MINDSETTER™ Gardiner: School Shootings - Time to Talk About Practical Solutions

Monday, February 19, 2018


Michael Gardiner

We’ve just had another mass casualty school shooting. On Wednesday, February 14, 2018, seventeen were confirmed dead at the Parkland Florida Marjory Stoneham Douglas High School.  The single shooter, an expelled former student, of whom the FBI was warned but failed to act upon, arrived in an Uber, (with a rifle?) started outside on the grounds and then went inside the building. The children killed were ages 14, 15, 16, 17, 18. Coaches, teachers, and staff were also among the victims, laying down their lives to shield or move students to safety. The shooter, using a AR 15 purchased legally after his 18th birthday fired “well over” 100 shots but less than 150, according to a law enforcement source. 

School shootings, mass casualty events, are heart-wrenching. Wherever we are in life right now, as we get older, we tend to feel the loss more deeply. And, we ought to also appreciate more as we get older, that a time of high emotion is not a time to use the tragedy as a wedge. If you want a prompt response that promises the end of, or less of, these tragedies, than let’s get together first and support the adoption of immediate practical measures that we can agree might directly make the schools safer and less vulnerable to this sort of invasion. Put off the fights that will involve the Federal Constitution and the constitutions of Rhode Island and 43 other states that protect the individual right to keep and bear arms. Make the schools safer and feel safer.

It’s not dismissive to suggest that until all the facts develop, that the tragic story not be leveraged into an attack on the rights of lawful firearm owners in a manner that also vilifies lawful firearm owners and creates worry that a mob is being inflamed against them. Great media attention is given to demands for gun control measures with and harsh effect to be demanded with revolutionary fervor. The reaction of gun control advocates to the terrible news suddenly looks like the continuation of partisan “us vs. them” politics feeding the never-ending hunger for glory and “their revolution” of those who feel they know what’s best for all of us.  Within moments of the shooting, a shooting that points less at a weapon and more at the shooter slipping through cracks and incompetence, a big piece of “ fake news” was being used to create a demand for big legislation aimed at every legal firearm owner in the nation.

ABC ran and is still showing on its web page, a ridiculous claim by a gun control group: “There have already been 18 school shootings in the US this year.” This is pure nonsense. Thank goodness the media is becoming more self-aware.  Investor’s Business Daily, Washington Post, fact checkers and other credible news sources are openly criticizing the fake number.  There have been two or three “school shooting” incidents this year and not the claimed 18 incidents. The much-mouthed “18 school shootings so far this year” claim included all sorts of incidents, single bullet strikes on a building, suicide attempts, accidental discharges of one round, all manner of incident that did not in any way resemble this week’s Parkland, or the terrible Sandy Hook elementary school tragedy in the Newton Ct five years ago or Columbine, 17 years ago.

What Can We Do? 

The facts can guide us to responses that make sense in light of what happened. Uber and Lyft, ride hailers, cabs, buses, could be asked to instruct drivers to refuse to transport riders with firearms (How about drive away and don’t pick them up when hailed.) 

Security measures might improve prevention of access to the school by an unauthorized entrant. If the shooter, a former student, found or knew of a gap in the existing measures, we can close it. 

The FBI might better train local law enforcement to do the job it failed too. Firing between 100 and 150 shots, the shooter apparently missed a lot. Maybe he would have missed more if he were at least worried about taking return fire from an armed school martial, a teacher or staff. Did you know that when he was done with the shooting he went to Walmart and had a sandwich? Maybe the shooter would not have shown up at all, by his off-kilter self if he thought it wasn’t a piece of cake to slaughter his victims. 

I’m not dismissing the real concern that we need to take legislative action, but, the law protects a right to keep and bear arms and that is deeply embedded in this nation’s make-up. When these things happen we ought not to adopt the posture of reflexively lashing out at each other with unreasonable expectations and impatience. We all want the kids and their teachers and staff to be safe. Instead of painting the enemy political camp with a broad brush, let’s start with direct and precise practical measures, so that our schools will not be a place where the deranged may go in and slaughter the helpless with ease.

Editor's note: A previous version called for 21 to be the age of gun purchase in RI. It is 21 to purchase handguns.


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Loberti's Post

Loberti posted the following to Facebook, on the incident:

"This evening, my mother (Audrey Loberti) kindly drove me to work, but unfortunately her car broke down en route. As a legally blind individual, I travel with a certified service animal, a Guide Dog for the Blind named Ingrid. Ingrid is a specially trained mobility aid who helps me safely navigate the world around me.

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