School Shootings Demand Deep Study – Not Faux Solutions


This is the first in a two-part series on issues relating to and arising out of the mass murders at the high school in Parkland, Florida last week.  The second piece by Congressman Barr will appear [tomorrow]. 

The Los Angeles Times, a newspaper with the fourth-largest circulation in the country, published an editorial on last week’s mass murder in Florida.  The newspaper’s long-time columnist George Skelton opined that “[m]ass shootings will continue in this country until we finally ban mass-shooting weapons.” 

Skelton’s missive was as philosophically deep and intellectually cogent as an attempt by a middle school student to analyze the intricacies of national defense strategies in a multi-polar world order. While I do not doubt that this writer takes his work and his analysis seriously, the views he expresses add absolutely nothing of true substance to the ongoing debates about either what motivates and facilitates mass murderers, or understanding the tools with which these evil acts are committed. In this regard, Skelton reflects nothing but the emerging world view that simplistic solutions will solve complex problems.

Skelton’s approach mimics that of gun-control advocates such as “Everytown USA,” an entity supported by well-known gun control hypocrite Michael Bloomberg.  This approach rests on the belief that outlawing this, that, or some other gun will stop evildoers such as the individual who visited such horrors on innocent boys, girls, men and women in Parkland, Florida last week.

The Los Angeles-based writer resides also in the company of countless Democrat office holders who trip over themselves to be the first to propose the same failed gun control initiatives in the hours, if not the minutes, after such a tragic event.  Their views and analyses are no more relevant to arriving at or even near solutions to the problem of mass shooting in our country, than would be postulating the future of global weather patterns based on peering out the window at a thermometer each morning.  

Rather, such views as expressed by Skelton and his fellow gun control apologists spring forth as pre-packaged ideas in large measure because their real target is not the evil inside the heart and mind of the individual perpetrator or his enablers; but the far-better known and much larger target — the National Rifle Association.  

In the minds of such faux experts, the NRA controls virtually all levers of power at all levels of government, especially in Washington; and is therefore to blame for the failure of government to “stop” mass murders committed with a firearm. Skipping over the fact that no single entity “controls” the Congress – indeed, in terms of outside spending in elections, the NRA does not even make the top five list (or even the top 450 in direct contributions to candidates who support its mission) – blaming government for instilling the evil that obviously resides in the minds of mass murderers, is so illogical as to be laughable.  But laughable, it is not; as witnessed by the number of otherwise knowledgeable persons who continue to jump on the “gun control” bandwagon.

Despite the child-like “solutions” proposed by Skelton, et al., the problem we face in terms not so much of gun violence writ large (which has dropped steeply from just a decade ago), but of mass shootings, is serious in the extreme; and demands leadership at the highest level of government on down to the local sheriff, police chief, and ultimately, the family.

For President Trump, the first move should be immediately establishing a commission on mass shootings. Unlike that established by George W. Bush, which consisted mainly of law enforcement and educational authorities, and focused primarily on defensive strategies for schools, Trump’s commission should consist of real experts from across the spectrum: law enforcement, educators, psychologists, criminologists, FBI profilers and threat assessors, constitutional experts (since this issue spans the First, Second and Fourth amendments), and others. 

The commission must have a defined term of six months to a year, along with subpoena power.  It must be given the congressionally-appropriated resources to fully execute its mandate.  That mandate must be as broad as the problem our society faces, without preconceived or political agendas, and importantly, with “nothing off the table.”  If it is a commission on “gun control” or on “the Second Amendment,” it will be a waste of time and money.  

The commission must grapple with the most difficult and elusive of problems:  Who are these killers? Do they have anything in common? What drives them to violence? Why do some act quickly, while others plan for years? Were they flagged before the violence, and if so, what institutional safety checks failed to stop them, and why? What are the mechanics of their plans?  

Then and only then – once these experts have truly tackled these fundamental questions – can we begin to construct solutions.  Otherwise, we are simply deluding ourselves with a false sense of accomplishment, even as we essentially guarantee future tragedies.

Self-Educated American Contributing Editor, Bob Barr, represented Georgia’s 7th district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 -2003 and as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia from 1986-1990.