Finley: Why wasn’t school shooter stopped?

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News

No amount of deference to the Second Amendment should have allowed Nikolas Cruz to keep his gun.

It would not have infringed on anyone’s right to bear arms had authorities responded to the bright red flags that were warning the Parkland, Fla. school shooter was about to go off his nut.

The opportunities for intervention were so numerous it’s almost impossible to digest that all of them were either missed or ignored.

No new laws were necessary to stop the murder of 17 students at Marjory Stoneman High School. What was needed was some action in response to the myriad clues Cruz was leaving that he was hell-bent on mayhem.

See something, say something? That’s what law enforcement agencies urge citizens to do. And it’s what Benjamin Bennight, a Mississippi bail bondsman and YouTube aficionado, did. He told the FBI that someone named Nikolas Cruz had posted a comment on his website declaring, “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.”

Agents apparently made a cursory investigation, but then let it drop before it led them to the Nikolas Cruz who’d been suspended from Stoneman for fighting — someone nearly everyone at the school predicted was a volcano waiting to erupt.

And what about the school? His fellow students all but voted Cruz “Most Likely to Slaughter Us.” An email was reportedly sent out after his suspension warning that if Cruz were seen near the school with a backpack, to not let him inside.

And yet he carried his backpack filled with loaded clips and an AR rifle to the school and waltzed right in the door.

How could the school have so easily washed its hands of Cruz? He was obviously a very disturbed young man, violent and rudderless. He’d just lost his mother, his only surviving parent.

Instead of tossing him out on the street when he got into a fight with a classmate, the school could have diverted him into a program that might have helped him deal with his demons.

Officials describe his internet footprint as “very, very troubling,” reflecting a fascination with guns and numerous threats to do mass carnage.

Broward County law enforcement officials were repeatedly called to Cruz’s home while he was growing up. Given his history, why did cops leave those encounters without Cruz’s gun in hand?

The family Cruz lived with knew he was troubled, and also knew he had a gun, and insisted he keep it in a locked cabinet. But a lock is worthless if the person you’re trying to keep the gun from has the key.

Responsible gun rights advocates, of which I am one, have no issue with stripping away ownership privileges from those who demonstrate a danger of using their guns for harm. We also live in this too violent country, and have children and grandchildren in its schools.

Prevention is not the same as pre-emption. It would not have required the sort of broad trampling of Second Amendment rights that gun controllers advocate to keep Cruz from his killing spree.

What was needed was greater diligence on the part of those who saw this threat building and could have acted to both help and disarm Nikolas Cruz, and failed to do so.

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