So the final report from the state commission charged with investigating the February massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last year was just released this Wednesday, and there were several key takeaways from the 458-page document.
Among them: Donald Trump had the right idea when it came to potentially arming teachers.
“The report contains dozens of recommendations,” the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. “Some would require action by the governor and Legislature, such as the proposals to allow some teachers to carry guns and increase spending on school security.”
The Sun-Sentinel also reported that the committee recommended “(t)he Broward Sheriff’s Office should conduct an internal review of seven deputies who arrived during the shooting but appeared to fail to even attempt to take effective action.”
However, the biggest waves were made by the recommendation that trained educators be allowed to carry weapons onto campus in order to stop shooters.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri “spoke forcefully” when recommending the measure, noting that the shooter had time to reload his weapon five times. That would have given trained educators five potential opportunities to neutralize the threat.
However, he acknowledged that the idea wasn’t going to be popular among people who had certain ideas in their heads regarding guns.
“So what are we saying to people — we’re not going to allow you to defend yourself, we’re not going to allow you to defend the kids — why? Because of some ideology that we don’t like guns? Anyone who thinks they’re going to get rid of guns is crazy,” Sheriff Gualtieri said.
“It isn’t going to happen. We’ve got to do something differently and people should be able to protect themselves.”
The idea is going to be doubly controversial because President Trump also got behind it in the immediate aftermath of the massacre.
During a February listening session with survivors of mass shootings, the president said that he was willing to back concealed carry on campus, noting “this would only be, obviously, for people that are very adept at handling a gun.”
The teachers, he said, would “go for special training. And they would be there, and you would no longer have a gun-free zone.
“A gun-free zone to a maniac — because they’re all cowards — a gun-free zone is, let’s go in and let’s attack, because bullets aren’t coming back at us,” the president continued.
Trump: “If you had a teacher who was adept at firearms, they could very well end the attack very quickly, and the good thing about a suggestion like that — and we’re going to be looking at it very strongly…but the good thing is you’ll have a lot of [armed] people with that.” pic.twitter.com/wGRSTDK38o
— CBS News (@CBSNews) February 21, 2018
“And if you do this — and a lot of people are talking about it, and it’s certainly a point that we’ll discuss — but concealed carry for teachers and for people of talent — of that type of talent.
“So let’s say you had 20 percent of your teaching force, because that’s pretty much the number … If you had a teacher with — who was adept at firearms, they could very well end the attack very quickly.”
However, a Broward School Board member said the board would likely oppose the plan and felt that her constituents would, too.
“I am very concerned about arming teachers,” Robin Bartleman said. “I think it’s a discussion we need to have with the community. I have not found many people in favor of this. The overwhelming response I get is people don’t want teachers with guns.”
Yes, Broward County is very liberal and the community might not be in favor of it. That’s not what the committee was trying to determine. They were trying to determine how to prevent school shootings.
The “overwhelming response” of the community won’t stop shooters like the one who killed 17 people last February. Taking intelligent action will.
Hopefully, the “overwhelming response” of Broward voters will at least turn out Scott Israel from office. The sheriff of Broward County and his department were roundly criticized during the report.
In addition to calling for the investigation of deputies that refused to confront the shooter, the report also said that the Sheriff’s Office “should revise its active-shooter policy to make clear that deputies are expected to immediately seek out the shooter.”
Israel had changed the language in official policy to say that deputies “may” confront active shooters instead of “shall.” Seemingly in anticipation of the report, the policy had been revised back to indicate deputies should confront shooters.
Either way, this won’t be the end. The commission will remain until 2023 and “will identify areas requiring further investigation and make additional recommendations,” the Sun-Sentinel said.
One hopes that moves in the area of further investigations and more security for schools. One also hopes that Scott Israel is no longer the sheriff as of that time. Even the left-leaning Sun-Sentinel, in an editorial, has called for newly-elected Gov. Ron DeSantis to remove him from office.
“We stood up for the sheriff in late February, when Republican lawmakers called for Gov. Rick Scott to suspend him ‘for incompetence and dereliction.’ We did so again in April after the deputies’ union staged a vote of no confidence in him, largely because of pay raises. We’ve suggested all along that people hold their fire until more details are known.
“But after seeing the damning details in the commission’s draft report — and Israel’s troubling testimony — we cannot encourage the governor-elect to wait and let voters decide the sheriff’s fate in 2020.”
We couldn’t agree more.
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