For a federal law enforcement agency struggling with credibility issues, the FBI hasn’t done itself any favors with regard to the handling of the Florida high school shooting.
It would probably be more accurate to describe the FBI’s efforts as a complete lack of handling.
News reports after the shooting last week indicate the FBI was informed months ago that the accused shooter had posted disturbing, direct threats via social media. Then, earlier this month, acquaintances of the young man contacted the FBI about his possession of assault-style weapons, information that was passed along to the Miami field office, which apparently did nothing.
In both cases, the FBI failed to connect the dots, and as of this writing, no one in the agency has explained why, except to use the term “a failure to follow protocol.”
What is truly galling about this is that, had the FBI performed its due diligence on those warnings, 17 teens and their teachers would probably still be alive.
This is what mass shootings have come down to — a society so engrossed in ourselves, celebrities and electronic devices, and government leaders so absorbed in political discord that credible threats are ignored by the agency required by federal law to protect U.S. citizens from these mass-mayhem, mass-murder crimes.
Students rallied outside the White House this week, demanding lawmakers and the president take action of some sort on gun control. Too many members of Congress are hiding behind their campaign donations from the National Rifle Association and gun manufacturers. That situation is so dire that a long-time Republican campaign donor has vowed not to lend financial help to any candidate for Congress who is unwilling to at least bring up the subject of gun control.
We are aware, and have written often in this space how the debate over guns in America has played out. We all know guns kill, but so do cars, airplanes, bad food — you name it, and there’s a good chance misuse of the product could result in someone’s injury or death.
But you also must admit that selling assault-style weapons to teenagers with mental problems is a mistake. In fact, we could argue with assured success that, excluding the U.S. military, there is no reasonable use for a weapon that can empty its magazine in a matter of seconds.
Most gun owners reading this editorial will agree with the points we’ve made. Why were weapons like the AR-15 developed, if not for the sole purpose of soldiers using them to shoot and kill enemies? Nowhere in the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution do the words “gun” or “assault weapon” appear.
Students and a lot of older Americans are fed up with this nation’s fixation on guns. Students in Florida stormed the state Legislature this week, demanding gun-control legislation. Instead, lawmakers decided to identify pornography as a dire threat to life. A disturbing conservative backlash against campaigning students was also in the news.
It’s all very frustrating, especially since no one is seriously challenging the right of Americans to own guns — just not the mass-killing machines that are in the hands of too many unhinged individuals.
The students who survived the South Florida school attack are especially frustrated, but fortunately, most of them are old enough to vote or soon will be. They should devote the next few months to identifying candidates who express a sane, balanced perspective of guns in society.
If there is to be change in America, it must begin at the ballot box.