When (not if) government fails

Ben Shapiro:

On Thursday night, the American public learned two bombshell pieces of information regarding the Parkland, Florida mass shooting. First, we learned that the Broward County Sheriff’s Office was told in November that the Parkland shooter “could be a school shooter in the making” but deputies didn’t bother to write up a report; that report “came just weeks after a relative called urging BSO to seize his weapons.” Then, in even more shocking news, we learned that an armed school resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School sat outside and waited for four minutes during the six minute attack that ended in the deaths of 17 human beings.

So, here’s what we know.

We know the FBI was warned specifically about the Parkland shooter not once, but twice — and did nothing.

We know the Broward County Sheriff’s deputies were called to the home of the Parkland shooter at least 39 times since 2010.

We know that the Broward County Sheriff’s Office was warned multiple times about the Parkland shooter.

We know that an armed officer was present during the shooting and did nothing — and that JROTC students showed far more courage.

And yet we are told that the solution to mass shootings is for law-abiding citizens to give more authority to the authorities that failed, and to turn over our only way of protecting ourselves?

Why in the world would a single law-abiding gun owner hand over his or her weapon to the same authorities that did nothing to protect the children of Parkland? Why would a single law-abiding gun owner turn over his or her capacity for self-defense to people who were incapable of defending children at every step of the way?

And why in the world should we blame the NRA, which literally had nothing to do with Parkland, for the failures of every institutional barrier to a massacre? Why should we blame law-abiding gun owners who didn’t shoot up kids for the failures of those who are paid to do stop evil monsters like the Parkland shooter? Why should we take Sheriff Steve Israel seriously when he blames lack of gun control, Dana Loesch, and the NRA, rather than his own radical incompetence and the radical incompetence of those under his authority?

Children are dead not because millions of good citizens own AR-15s, but because dozens of pathetic incompetents and cowards in a position to do something instead did nothing. All the misdirection in the world isn’t going to change that inconvenient fact.

The other thing we know, this being government, is that no heads will roll. The school resource officer resigned, but the three other deputies who reportedly failed to go inside to find the shooter won’t lose their jobs. Nor will their boss, Democratic Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, unless voters boot Israel from office. Nor will the FBI agents who didn’t do their jobs by passing on the numerous information about the shooter. No, only law-abiding gun owners will be punished for government malfeasance.

About Israel, National Review writes:

It is impossible to imagine circumstances under which Broward County sheriff Scott Israel could attempt to perform his duties with the confidence of the public. He should resign immediately, and if, as he promises, he refuses to go quietly, then he should be shown the door by the people he professes to serve.

The numbers tell the story: 23 sheriff’s calls involving the Parkland shooter; 18 sheriff’s calls involving the shooter’s behavior directly (some of the others were principally about his brother); four sheriff’s deputies, armed and trained, cowering outside the high school while the killer within carried out his massacre; 17 dead.

In spite of having the school’s armed “resource officer” — an on-site deputy — and three other sheriff’s deputies outside the school during the massacre, no one lifted a finger to stop the shooting until police from Coral Springs arrived and entered the building, at which point the killer escaped, walking off the campus with the rest of the stunned students. He then walked down the street to a fast-food restaurant and ordered himself a drink, and wandered around the neighborhood for a while (past an elementary school) before being spotted by a Coral Springs police officer, to whom he surrendered without incident. He eventually made his way into the Broward County sheriff’s custody — when he was delivered there in handcuffs.

Coral Springs city manager Mike Goodrum subsequently had a confrontation with Sheriff Israel he described as “heated.” We can imagine.

The failure of the Broward County sheriff’s department in this matter has been comprehensive — before and during the incident, obviously, and after it, too, with the continued sanctimonious blame-dodging of the sheriff. The sheriff’s department (and other law-enforcement agencies from Palm Beach County to the FBI) had every reason to believe not only that the killer was a danger to others but that he was specifically planning a school massacre. People who knew him called in with that specific worry, and the killer boasted online of his plan to become a school shooter. Those boasts were forwarded to the FBI, which did precisely nothing in response. The killer himself called police to tell them he had been having trouble after the death of his mother.

Pointing out these failures isn’t attacking law enforcement, as some supporters of gun control allege, but demanding minimal competence on a matter of the utmost public import. Such is the ardor of the most committed gun controllers that they are willing to look past every failure by authorities that doesn’t accord with their agenda (one of the Stoneman Douglas kids the other day said it was understandable that the SRO didn’t engage the shooter because no one wants to confront an AR-15 — of course, the officer had no idea in real time that the gun was an AR-15, which regardless isn’t particularly powerful for a rifle).

As for the sheriff, he is a pretty typical politician, hiring friends and political allies, treating his law-enforcement position as a nakedly political fief. His arrogance is astounding: When asked about his penchant for hiring his supporters and looking after his own interests first, the sheriff replied, “Lions don’t care about the opinions of sheep.” But the people of Broward County didn’t hire Scott Israel to be a lion; they hired him to be a sheepdog, a task at which he has failed so completely as to make regaining the public trust impossible. Indeed, it is not clear he ever deserved that trust to begin with. If he has any respect for his oath, his badge, or his community, he should step aside. If his sense of duty does not prevail, he should be forced out.

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