It’s Time for This Serious Conversation About School Shootings

In Front Page, Mental Health, Second Amendment by Allen West

Our thoughts, prayers, and condolences go out to the families of those lost, and those who were wounded, in the Santa Fe High School shooting.

It is a tragedy that we are ending the 2018 school year on such a horrible note. Yesterday, these young Americans, Texans, went to school full of life and joy, looking forward to summer vacation, maybe even a summer job. Sadly, for them, someone else went to school yesterday with a dark heart filled with evil intent. There is no excuse, no acceptance of what this person did. He is not a victim, and he — alone, or perhaps with assistance — made the decision to end the lives of innocent fellow students. We should not cast blame on “bullying,” or any other deemed socially, and politically, correct motive. This, along with other school shootings is rooted in one word: evil.

Earlier this week, another school shooter was stopped by a School Resource Officer in Illinois. And, we are so very thankful for the law enforcement response yesterday at Santa Fe HS — it could have been much worse.

As reported by Fox News:

“The suspect accused of unleashing a hail of bullets inside one of his classes early Friday morning that left up to 10 people dead and another 10 injured has been identified, reports stated. Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, was identified as the person in custody in connection to the shooting at Santa Fe High School, The Associated Press reported. Explosive devices were found at the school, authorities said.  The suspected shooter was taken into police custody and a second suspect has been detained. The suspect in custody and the suspect detained for further questioning were both students.  Police officers responded to Santa Fe High School around 8 a.m. CDT following reports that a shooter opened fire inside. The Santa Fe Police Department confirmed explosive devices were found at the campus of the high school and the “surrounding areas adjacent to the school.” The school has been evacuated and the campus was cleared, the Santa Fe Police Department said. Retired police officer John Barnes, working as the school’s resource officer, was shot in the incident, Fox News has learned.”

What this tells us is that this was a planned, deliberate, attack. As well, the weapons used were a Remington shotgun and a .38 revolver. Both of these weapons were used illegally, as the assailant took them from his house, where they were registered to his parents.

Let’s get this out up front: the response to this shooting, as others, should not be an ideological agenda calling for more gun control. I own a Remington 870 tactical shotgun. I also have a Charter Arms .38 revolver, both for home security. If anyone wants to make the absurd assertion that we need to ban shotguns and revolvers, well, they are delusional, and not wanting to solve this issue.

My greatest concern is that this is becoming some sordid epidemic in America. That perhaps we are witnessing some depraved state of mind that is seeking to copy the last shooter. In the Santa Fe case, reports have already come forth stating that there were no tell-tale signs, indicators, or warnings, such as they were with the Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS shooter. Even the fact that the assailant was wearing a long military style trench coat, on a hot humid Houston day, was dismissed because it was a regular piece of attire. However, the first thing we must engage with, in order to end these school shootings, is to confront the issue of mental illness in our young people. We have to start looking for, and understand what we are looking for: those slight indicators which can tip us off. But more importantly, parents must be more aware of what is going on with their kids. Let’s not forget that it was the mother of the Newtown, CT shooter who legally had firearms in her home — a home with a mentally ill son. The mentally ill shooter in the Tennessee Waffle House shooting had weapons given back to him by his dad.

However, the first thing we must engage with, in order to end these school shootings, is to confront the issue of mental illness in our young people. Click To Tweet

Perhaps it’s time to add a new question on the BATF Form 4473: “Do you reside in a home with a mentally ill person?” Now, of course, I probably stated that in a very blunt manner, but you get my point. I believe that firearms should not be sold to someone who lives with a mentally ill individual unless there is a gun safe. I’m quite sure we will learn more about the Santa Fe HS shooter in the coming days. Something drove this 17-year old to undertake this most heinous endeavor, and the use of improvised explosive devices is rather disconcerting.

Next, it is time we have a serious assessment, during this summer, of the security of our schools. We need to answer the question as to how this shooter was able to enter the school with weapons. But, as I was guest hosting the Point of View radio program on Friday, I had a very interesting caller. It was a fella from Georgia who was a school bus driver. He shared that there are students who regularly board the bus armed with weapons, he can tell. Sadly, this driver is not armed, nor are there armed escorts on these school buses — another vulnerable target. The National Rifle Association has a security assessment program called, “School Shield.” Maybe instead of progressive, socialist, demonization, we should allow the NRA to conduct assessments of our schools. Certainly Independent School Districts (ISDs) can make that decision.

I know that there are teachers who do not wish to volunteer to be armed in schools, got it. However, we can seek out those that would want to volunteer, to be the first line of defense, along with School Resource Officers (SROs). Having just 1-3 SROs to cover down on these massive campuses of 3000 students (Stoneman Douglas) or 1400 (Santa Fe) is unconscionable. We know what happens if the SRO fails to do their duty, look no further than Broward Sheriff Deputy Scot Peterson. But, there’s a program called “Troops to Teachers,” — I know, because I was part of that program back in 2004. We could look to these veterans to be trained in active shooter response at these schools. Also, we can look to the High School JROTC instructors to be a line of defense, in conjunction with the SROs. Another viable option is to develop a school security guard force made up of recently retired US Military veterans.

Lastly, we must end the absurd programs such as the Promise programs, implemented during the Obama administration. We can ill-afford to take simple administrative actions with violent, abhorrent behaviors identified in our schools. This is not about a PC focus on minority expulsions or suspensions. This is about protecting our children. And we need to have a means by which we are reviewing the social media pages of students — actually that is a parental responsibility. I know my own dad would have not been understanding of my sequestering myself in some trailer.

It’s not about the AR-15, shotgun, or revolver. This is about an evil that has invaded our schools. And we need to identify it early, and prevent it from killing our kids. We can fix this, perhaps not 100%, but dammit, we must try. This is not about agenda-driven solutions, or disarming Americans. This is about safeguarding our kids. And, we have a summer to get it right. Let this not be a story in the 2018-2019 school year.