Parkland — The Tragedy and the Farce

In this Feb. 15, 2018, file photo, then-Broward County Sheriff, Scott Israel, center, former Florida Governor Rick Scott, right, and then-Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, left, speak to the media about the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people were killed, in Parkland, Fla.

By Christopher Manion Published on March 29, 2019

A student [whom I will not deign to identify] killed seventeen people at the Marjorie Stoneman High School a year ago. Immediately, demands for gun control flooded the national media. With amazing speed, gun control groups organized Parkland students into an effective national lobbying force. Of course, friendly media outlets provided indispensable support.

The result, of course: more laws, CNN cheered. By Parkland’s first anniversary, we saw “67 new gun laws … enacted by both Republican and Democratic legislators in 26 states and Washington, DC.”

Would any of those laws have prevented Parkland? No. Because Parkland was not caused by guns. We see instead the bastard child of politics and incompetence, matched with cowardice and evasion. 

According to the Sun Sentinel, the state commission investigating the shooting released an exhaustive report last December. The report describes a stunning series of failures by Broward County agencies and their employees that contributed to the shooting. It identifies government incompetence at every level. In fact, Broward County politicians, school authorities, and law enforcement had made so many mistakes and so many deals for so many years…. The tragedy seems to have been almost inevitable.

Failures on the Ground

On the ground, “School Resource Officer Scot Peterson failed to pursue the shooter after reporting ‘shots fired,’” the commission found. In fact, “Peterson waited 45 minutes [not a misprint] to enter the school and warned others to stay away, too…. Besides Peterson, seven other deputies also heard the gunfire and failed to pursue the shooter, as best practices would dictate. During interviews with investigators, several noted BSO policy says they could pursue a shooter, but don’t have to.”

Immediately after the incident, Sheriff Scott Israel allowed Peterson to retire with full benefits, including an annual pension of over $100,000.

You’ve probably heard of David Hogg, whom gun control groups quickly pushed to the front of the line to “speak for Parkland students.” But you probably haven’t heard of Meadow Pollack. She was an 18-year-old student shot down in a school hallway. Her father, Andrew Pollack, has lodged a lawsuit against Deputy Peterson, whom he branded as “the Coward of Broward.”

“We’ve been in a war this past year against Broward’s corrupt elected officials,” Pollack told The Daily Signal. “They failed to stop the shooter, failed to confront the shooter, and are now failing to work for the community. Everything is a cover-up.”

Massive Problems With Command

Immediately after the incident, Sheriff Scott Israel allowed Peterson to retire with full benefits, including an annual pension of over $100,000. RealClearInvestigations reported on that.

“‘Everyone in this county is wondering why Peterson was allowed to retire so quickly and take his pension,’ said local attorney Alex Arreaza, who represents victims of the school tragedy. ‘Normally deputies would not be allowed to retire under those circumstances, but in this case, Peterson was allowed to. This report gives a plausible reason,’ he said.”

The reason? Arreaza alleges that Peterson had failed to charge Israel’s son for an alleged assault. It occurred four years to the day before the shooting. The get-out-of-jail-free retirement was payback.

The Lowest Form of Life

“I think Peterson is the lowest form of life available,” Fred Guttenberg told Local 10 News. The shooter gunned down Guttenberg’s daughter Jaime on the third floor. “My daughter would be alive if not for him,” he said.

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The commission’s report found massive problems with command and control in Israel’s operations that day. That centers on the District Commander, Captain Jan Jordan. She failed miserably in her prime responsibility ­­— command and control. “Jordan froze during the Parkland shooting. Officers said she was in over her head,” Andrew Pollack tweeted. “Now Sheriff Israel admits Captain Jordan was recommended based on ‘diversity,’ not qualifications. Her lack of leadership led to kids dying, all because they wanted diversity!”

Why would Sheriff Israel put Jordan in charge? Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri served as chairman of the commission. He didn’t see anything that Israel did that would rise to the level of “malfeasance or misfeasance.” Israel boasted of his own “amazing leadership.” But he “revealed following the shooting that his agency [had] received 18 tips about the suspected gunman prior to the incident.” The commission’s report found that Israel’s office “displayed deficiencies in training, command and individual performance” during the incident.

Florida’s newly elected Republican governor Rick DeSantis fired Israel after taking office in January.

The ‘Promise’ Protecting the Shooter

The administrative malfeasance runs deep. After the shooting, School Superintendent Robert Runcie consistently blocked attempts to investigate. He repeatedly denied, and finally admitted, the shooter’s involvement in an Obama-era program called “Promise.” It promised to provide alternatives to arresting students for minor offenses. But the shooter counted as a minority, and the school system feared that it might lose valuable federal funding if it punished minorities more often than other students. Hence, Dr. Susan Barry writes that the program “encouraged teachers and principals not to report threatening and assaultive behavior of minority students to law enforcement in order to appear non-discriminatory.”

Had officials properly reported the shooter’s numerous run-ins with law-enforcement, he never would have been at Parkland that day. And consider this startling fact: months before the incident, the shooter threatened on YouTube to become a “professional school shooter.” When a concerned citizen reported this threat to the FBI, the agency took no action.

Clearly guns didn’t cause the Parkland shooting. Rather, politics, bureaucratic malfeasance, evasion, and outright lies caused this tragedy.

Meadow Pollack’s father insists Broward’s school board and superintendent have “mismanaged money and facilitated disastrous discipline programs.”

“If not for them, my daughter would still be with us today,” Pollack says. “In short, we need to clean house.”

Face Up to Reality

Clearly guns didn’t cause the Parkland shooting. Rather, politics, bureaucratic malfeasance, evasion, and outright lies caused this tragedy. But facts don’t interest the rabid left when it’s on a mission — in this case, to make sure that only the government has guns. Remember the number of school shootings recorded in home schools where parents keep firearms: ZERO. 

Like all Fake News, the myths motivating the gun controllers inspired by Parkland constitutes an ongoing farce. And one that could well contribute to future incidents. To do their jobs, school and law enforcement bureaucrats will have to suck it up and confront the mobs mobilized to attack the Second Amendment. If they face up to reality and deal with the cowardly cops, political hacks, incompetent bureaucrats, and politically-correct appointments? Maybe then they can stop the next guy who announces to the world that he wants to be a “professional school shooter.”Duped

Why don’t folks in the anti-gun movement focus on these fatal failures of government? Two reasons. First, they’re liberals, and they like government. They think government can manage our lives better than we can. And second, every single one of their proposals calls for more government — government intrusion, government inspection, government supervision, government prohibition. On this particular, they’re logical. After all, it wouldn’t help them to start criticizing government while demanding more of it.

For a short but fact-packed book unmasking the political farce that followed this real-life tragedy, see Mark Smith’s highly readable #Duped: How the Anti-gun Lobby Exploits the Parkland School Shooting—and How Gun Owners Can Fight Back.

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