As a nation, we continue to mourn with the families of the victims and survivors in Parkland, Florida. As we process the feelings of horror and anger in the immediate aftermath of such an unspeakably tragic event, it is important to have a civil and constructive dialogue about what our public policy solutions should be. This was a senseless act of carnage that led to the loss of young, innocent life. As a former educator and the parent of a public high school student and public college student, I cannot imagine the grief these families have endured. My family has been praying for them ever since we first heard the tragic news.
We have waited to fully assess potential solutions until more of the basic facts of the case were in. And now we see fairly clearly that there were catastrophic system-wide failures. In these ongoing investigations that are both dependent on the facts and emotionally charged, it is always best to wait for the evidence in order to analyze the causes and solutions as they are intimately related.
Many threats existed leading up to the Parkland shooting as well. I’m heartbroken to know this could have been stopped had the FBI tip line staff, local law enforcement, and the school resource officer done their jobs. It is clear this young man never should have been able to purchase a gun. Despite being tipped off multiple times, individuals at the FBI failed to act. There are alarming news reports that the Broward County law enforcement had 39 calls related to this killer, that his home was visited multiple times by law enforcement, and that he was on psychiatric drugs. The shooter’s mother had just passed away, and he told officers he was dealing with some “issues.” He was also posting disturbing and scary videos to YouTube and Instagram. Every single red flag was raised, but no data was shared. Then armed sheriff’s deputies failed to enter the school and engage the shooter. There were multiple missed opportunities for law enforcement at every level to take action and to prevent this tragedy. The system broke down.