There are no simple answers.

Parents wait for news after a reports of a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Joel Auerbach)

Listen To You Tell Me Texas Friday 2/23/18


Several busloads of students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida went to the state capitol in Tallahassee and demanded that lawmakers take action to prevent another horror like the one that befell their school last week. Who can blame them? Seventeen of their classmates and teachers are dead. More than a dozen others are injured, some very grievously so.

The shooting happened despite the fact that many saw it coming and took steps to prevent it. Such steps were rendered meaningless by the bureaucratic bumbling of the FBI, which had received a very detailed and credible tip that the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, posed a clear and present danger.

If I were a student at that school, I’d be mad as hell. So let them march on their state capitol and let them loudly and vociferously demand that something be done. They have every right to be angry and every right to vent and every right to yell at their elders in their state legislature.

Let them.

Just understand that nothing that these legitimately aggrieved students are demanding will do anything whatsoever to prevent the next school shooting. Nor will the donations of upwards of $2 million to their cause by rich, virtue-signaling liberals like George Clooney and Oprah Winfrey make the slightest difference.

Predictably, the cry has gone up to ban so-called “assault weapons” like the AR-15 rifle that Nikolas Cruz used. Doing so won’t change a thing. We don’t have to guess on this one. We know it. We had a law banning “assault weapons” on the books for ten years starting in 1994. When that law sunsetted in 2004, multiple studies all came to the conclusion that the law had had no discernible impact on crimes involving gun violence. Hysteria over rifles like the AR-15 and the fact that one was used in this most recent tragedy notwithstanding, the truth is that such weapons are statistically among the least likely to be used in a civilian mass murder.

Tightening up background checks on gun buyers may or may not be a good idea. But background checks are only as good as the bureaucracy that curates them and that fact alone raises real doubts as to any potential benefits. What isn’t in doubt is that such tightening will have the effect of making it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to buy a gun.

The simple, unavoidable truth is this. A generation ago we did not have — indeed didn’t even imagine — mass murder at our schools. That condition prevailed even though there were far fewer gun ownership restrictions on the books than there are now.

This problem will not yield to legislation. Something other than the ability to purchase and own a gun has gone terribly wrong. The pathology runs deep, has been growing for at least half a century and was brought about by a host of societal failures.

There are no soundbite-length answers. Beware, therefore, of politicians and media talking heads that offer them.

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Paul Gleiser

Paul L. Gleiser is president of ATW Media, LLC, licensee of radio stations KTBB 97.5 FM/AM600, 92.1 The TEAM FM in Tyler-Longview, Texas.

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19 Responses

  1. Our violent popular culture is the elephant in the room for this issue. Hollywood and other entertainment sources have more to do with these killings than the NRA ever will. But Hollywood is safe, being a liberal sacred cow, and in fact valued more by people today than anything else, including a few human lives now and then.

    • Roy G. Biv says:

      So you would have me give up my first amendment rights to preserve my second amendment ones. No thank you. I prefer retaining them both.

      • Paul Gleiser says:

        I can’t speak for Mr. Saunders but I’m not seeing in his comment, nor do I imagine that he believes, that Hollywood should be prohibited by law from making movies that are corrosive of the culture. I’m guessing that he believes, as I believe, that they should avoid doing so on their own — for the good of the country that so lavishly rewards their efforts.

        • Roy G. Biv says:

          I disagree. Telling someone what they should or shouldn’t do is simply a precursor to telling them what they can or can’t do.

          • Paul Gleiser says:

            So, expecting someone at Starbucks to wait his/her turn and to treat the person behind the counter with courtesy and objecting when they don’t is “telling them what they can or can’t do?’

            Expecting that there are societal norms that should be respected and being disappointed when they are not doesn’t infringe on anyone’s first amendment rights.

            I have no enforcement power over the boor at Starbucks. That, however, would never keep me from speaking out against his boorish behavior.

            Hollywood can produce any violent, sex-obsessed content that they want. That doesn’t mean I have to like it and it doesn’t mean I can’t speak out against if if I am so inclined.

            The same applies to Mr. Saunders.

          • Roy G. Biv says:

            You miss the point entirely. Right now Mr. Saunders is just verbally condemning Hollywood for these acts of violence. It’s only a matter of time before he demands changes in their behavior through legislation. This happens all the time. The government is constantly encroaching on our rights.

  2. Richard Anderson says:

    Excellent column Mr. Gleiser.

    America, with our Christian heritage can turn itself around, but to do so, we must bring God back into the public square, making Him paramount as did our Founding Fathers in the establishment of our constitutional republic.
    Our Founders NEVER intended that God be kicked out of the public conscience of our nation. To the contrary, our Founders sought God thru PRAYER in everything they did beginning with our first president, George Washington who was a devout Christian. He most certainly was not a deist as has been taught by those who seek to erode the truth of our Christian heritage.

    To solve the immediate safety concern of our schools, we should secure them by ending the nonsense of having them be “soft and vulnerable like a sitting duck” which has occurred because of their gun free zone status. Instead, HARDEN them by securing our children using specially selected armed Veterans and Teachers who are familiar with firearms who wish to participate in such a program.

    We must NOT allow however, our Second Amendment RIGHT to be compromised by democrats and others on the left who seek to disarm law abiding American citizens as that has always been their goal and agenda.

    May God ALWAYS Bless The United States of America.
    2 Chronicles 7:14

  3. Tracy McKnight says:

    If the persons that commit these crimes had someone that was there when they were bullied, when they suffered the loss of a parent, or simply had a bad day. I think a regular hug and a pat on the back for something good would do more good than any law, or any amount of jail time. More than anything, I think these people want to be accepted except in cases of mental illness.

  4. Linda E. Montrose says:

    In this instant and several more, the right things were done like REPORTING the person to the FBI, yet little is said about THEIR failure to act upon these reports. It puzzles me that we are told to report anything suspicious, but when we do, nothing is done. Now, I do not know about other folks out there, but when a person puts out there for everyone to see that they want to be a professional school shooter, that should have been looked into ASAP. Not pushed to the side as a prank until it actually happens. This is NOT the first time the FBI has fallen down on the job.
    But instead of looking to the FBI and WHY they failed to do their job in possibly preventing this from happening, everyone wants to blame guns! A gun, no matter if it is an AR-15 or a pistol can not in itself kill someone. That firearm HAS to be picked up and fired. A bomb however, could go off on it’s own. There have been many times a bomb has gone off prematurely and killed the bomber. A bomb can be set to go off at a certain time. This person could have done far more damage and killed far more people if he had planted bombs! My point is, if the FBI had done their job at the time this was reported, then more than likely, we would not be having this conversation. Put the blame where the blame belongs and it squarely lays at the feet of the FBI! There is no legislation now, or in the future that can stop mass killings. If someone is intent on killing, they will find a way to do it regardless. What weapon of choice do terrorist use when they want to kill mass amounts of people??? They use BOMBS. Car bombs and suicide bombs seems to be their weapon of choice. STOP and THINK people!

  5. Colin Jensen says:

    Good one. The solutions are systemic and another knee-jerk Patriot Act solution won’t help. Banning guns, putting in steel doors, hiring a million school-marshalls, harassing gun owners—these are all band-aids. The only real solutions involve families and morality and having purpose-driven lives, and where that gets too fuzzy an increase in mental health programs, but policy doesn’t have the patience for any of that. So they project onto the things that haven’t changed, the guns, the doors, the cops—but the first law of decision making is you can’t blame what hasn’t changed.

  6. C M Solomon says:

    Let’s define CANARD: An unfounded or false premise, report, story, or piece of information that is intended to deceive people by deliberately misleading them.

    I have a few simple questions, but first, a few statements before I make my point.

    1. I believe that morality (the Golden Rule) should be taught and practiced in all schools and that humans are responsible to a higher, eternal authority for their behavior in this life that supersedes all other human authorities. (I am not an animal that lives, dies and ceases to exist forevermore, who is not eternally responsible for my behavior.)

    2. I believe that I have a Constitutional (unalienable right) to speak my mind and proclaim my thoughts and ideas publicly without threat of reprisal as long as my speech is without threat, itself.

    3. I believe that I have a Constitutional (unalienable right) to defend my family, property, and my life with violence (if necessary) to match or overcome violence threatened against me and mine.

    4. I believe that I have a Constitutional (unalienable right) to believe and practice my faith without threat of subjugation by anyone or society at large, whether by law or by custom.

    The CANARD that is deliberately practiced by the Left which is intended to frighten their listeners who may be subject to their lies and propaganda is to portray my above statements in the following way, respectively:

    1. I want to FORCE my morality on everyone else, no matter what. I condemn those that disagree with me.

    2. I want to FORCE my opinions on everyone else so that my thoughts and ideas will be accepted by those that disagree with me whether they like it or not.

    3. I want to harbor and use weapons that are a danger to me and others in society at large. I don’t trust law enforcement to protect my family, property, or myself. I could be paranoid, and suffer from unnatural fears.

    4. I want to FORCE others to accept my religious beliefs and faith so that they will abandon their beliefs (if any) and become like me. Otherwise, I will condemn them as being a pagan or worse.

    In short, I am a bigot, a danger to society and should not be respected or be allowed to influence others because I have NO credibility, particularly on the GUN issue.

    Is the Left NOT really interested in preventing violence and murder in schools or anywhere else as long as it is by way of firearms used by criminals? Don’t they need this violence to perpetuate the lie that confiscation of guns from law abiding citizens (elimination of the 2nd Amendment) will solve mass murder by these weapons as illogical as that may be? Isn’t their goal an unarmed citizenry, beholden to GOVERNMENT ONLY to protect life and property? Only the RULERS of society deserve full time protection, don’t you know? In other words, they want protection from 2nd Amendment citizens that might threaten their RULE more than protection from violent criminals that would wreak havoc on an unarmed society with no right of self defense by lethal weapons. Is there no other conclusion that any can be reached? Otherwise, why keep the above CANARD in force as their argument for 50 years?

    PLEASE NOTE: Isn’t it a fact of nature that violence by criminals expands in direct proportion to the lack of defense against it?

    I refuse to let the CANARD of the Left go unexposed! Please don’t accept their false hysteria meant to frighten their way to winning the argument for ever increasing laws limiting our basic freedoms.

  7. RE: “Hysteria over rifles like the AR-15 and the fact that one was used in this most recent tragedy notwithstanding, the truth is that such weapons are statistically among the least likely to be used in a civilian mass murder:”

    Sandy Hook
    Las Vegas
    Texas church
    San Bernardino

  8. OK then. THAT will comfort survivors of those killed by AR-15 in: Aurora, Sandy Hook, Las Vegas, Orlando, Texas church, San Bernardino, Parkland.

    • Paul Gleiser says:

      Comforting the survivors and developing sound, effective policy are two entirely separate things. The problem with a whole lot of American policy is that it was put in place in order to make us feel better rather than to effectively address the core problem. I stand by the piece, most particularly the headline, “There are no simple answers.”

      It would be simple, and would no doubt “comfort” a lot of people, if some law was passed aimed at addressing the weapon that was used. That would be a false comfort — and ultimately more cruel than doing nothing.

      When Nikolas Cruz unleashed his terror, it was already illegal to walk into a school and start shooting. It’s hard, therefore, to imagine how passing another law will accomplish anything.

      It is the fact that when we were kids no one even imagined school shootings and that they now happen with disheartening frequency that is the problem. Not one single thing that anyone is proposing – lefty or righty – addresses this core issue.

      As the piece says, no simple answers.

  9. L Miles says:

    Football coach Aaron Feis at the Parkland, Fla. high school died after taking bullets trying to shield his beloved students from the murderer. How can anyone not deny that the “gun-free” policy of the school wasn’t partially responsible for his death? I’m sure he and the students he protected would have given ANYTHING for him to have had a gun to kill the murderer regardless of his proficiency with weapons. It is not the right of the elite hegemony to deny this hero the ability to fight against this evil.

    Murder is a crime for which our American justice system demands severe punishment. Any accomplice to a murder is also subject to severe punishment. Most thinking people recognize that the threat of severe punishment for the crime of murder is a DETERRENT intended to reduce the occurrences of murder. The threat of immediate lethal violence against a potential murderer is ALSO an effective deterrent intended to reduce the occurrences of murder. (I can kill the perpetrator before I or others are killed, and maybe there is one less murderer to threaten future victims). Therefore, any policy that limits either the punishment of, or the immediate lethal threat against a potential murderer is encouraging the increase of the occurrences of murder. If you don’t support severe deterrents against murder you can only be called a coward or a passive accomplice that supports murder itself, effectively by default.

    Obliteration of our self-defense rights to use lethal weapons for protection from the criminal elements in our society gives de facto promotion to evil behavior. Forced confiscation of defense weapons owned by law-abiding citizens will turn that citizen into a criminal if he refuses to obey the order on Constitutional grounds. Isn’t that the essence of the criminal mind of the Left to support sanctuary cities or states that would protect REAL illegal alien criminals (currently in effect) while wanting to criminalize the right to self defense as guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment?

    A long time ago, we identified the totalitarian Marxist Left with the term “Communist Sympathizers”. I think it is time to call the gun-grabbing Left with the term “Criminal Sympathizers.” By any standard of common sense they don’t support Law Enforcement and have given free reign to Social Justice Mobsters that crush the Conservative opposition by any means necessary including violence against persons, property and speech. Why should we tolerate any irrational opinion they have on the subject of self-defense or law enforcement. It is THEY that have promoted violence by shielding the criminal from DETERRENTS and certain punishment.

  10. L Miles says:

    Paul, I hope you will follow up on this current story given the recent information revealed in the last few days of the deliberate failure of the Justice Department (Eric Holder, Et Al.) in the Obama Administration to enforce current law to REPORT and ARREST criminal behavior in order to produce FAKE statistics of crime reduction. This was done with incentive payments to law enforcement and school administrators to artificially reduce crimes committed on the basis of race. This was intended to “correct” the so called discrimination present in our culture that was unjustly punishing certain ethnic groups in order to reduce the School-to-Prison Pipeline “suffered” by these groups. It is called the PROMISE Program funded by Federal grants with the money coming from the Department of Justice.

    This resulted in certain perpetrators of unlawful or threatening behavior to escape being recorded in the local or national systems that would have prohibited them from being able to legally purchase firearms. This is an outrageous promotion of violence and is a stark failure of the Federal Government to protect the public on “Social Justice” ideological grounds. At what point do we call this failure to enforce criminal laws an encouragement of local law enforcement to become a PAID accomplice of criminal behavior based on race within their jurisdiction? I had no idea that my previous statement was so true in that the Leftists “have promoted violence by shielding the criminal from DETERRENTS and certain punishment.” I believe that the depths of corruption contained within the past Obama Administration are yet to be discovered. I hope the current Justice Department will root out this corruption and charge the responsible officials with crimes of omission and deliberate failure to obey our current laws of enforcement which have resulted in leaving the public at the mercy of unchecked (unreported) crime.

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