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Outsiders vs. Insiders: What kind of (government) friend would leave us alone to die?

“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.” – Walter Winchell

If this were true then the seventeen students and teachers who died two weeks ago in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting didn’t count any friends among the law enforcement authorities of Florida’s School shootingBroward County. By now everyone knows there were at least one and as many as four armed officers in proximity to the scene of the murders and they did nothing to intervene, instead taking up defensive positions as if to guarantee whatever carnage was taking place just steps away didn’t deprive them of their own lives and limbs.

In a culture filled with tales of heroic deeds acted out by individuals in times of crisis this was a particularly glaring illustration of cowardly breakdown – not only by the governmental authorities in shirking their obligation to protect the innocent but also of human beings in general. It’s instinctual to want to assist others when an urgent situation calls for it – no one did.

Subsequent facts revealed those responsible for the conduct of the officers were equally spineless. Rather than take responsibility for the lapse there’s been quite a lot of blame evasion. Sad is one way to describe their behavior; pathetic another. People are angry – and justifiably so. As Congress and the president search hopelessly this week for a legislative solution that simply isn’t there, perhaps the focus should shift to those who had a clear chance to make a difference yet shrunk from the call.

Of Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, Rich Lowry wrote at National Review, “The motto is that when we see something, we should say something. In the case of the Parkland shooter, people said something, over and over again, to little or no effect. The cliche after disasters is that no one ‘connected the dots.’ In the case of the Parkland shooter, the dots were connected with bright lines…

“The sheriff’s theory of leadership apparently doesn’t extend down to the people working for him. ‘I gave him a gun,’ he said of the deputy in another interview. ‘I gave him a badge. I gave him the training. If he didn’t have the heart to go in, that’s not my responsibility.’ The buck doesn’t stop with the sheriff, in other words; it stops with whomever he happens to give a badge and a gun.”

While it’s true we can’t go back in time and physically take the steps necessary for deputy Scot Peterson to enter the building, confront shooter Nikolas Cruz and summarily “take him out,” we can assess culpability after the fact for actions not taken. Peterson apparently lost his job (he “retired” and is surely still drawing pension pay) but beyond this token act of contrition Israel remains steadfast in his belief that he personally did nothing wrong.

One can only surmise Israel isn’t getting a lot of sleep these days. The “what if?” guilt stemming from this must be eating at his insides.

True, Israel wasn’t on scene until minutes if not hours later and he didn’t fail to address the situation with the media or shirk his “official” duties in any other capacity once he arrived; yet someone at some level has to be in charge and take responsibility. As is evident from an examination of the post-incident facts this was a grand catastrophe on many different governmental levels. Citizens were killed; they’re now buried and the survivors will go on with their lives as best they can.

But will people ever really let go of what didn’t happen there? As a Democrat elected official in an overwhelmingly Democrat political jurisdiction Scott Israel seems disconnected from censure – even from himself. As would be expected from a liberal, Israel’s blamed guns for his own shortcomings as a leader of men and women tasked with safeguarding those who weren’t in position to take care of their own safety. He failed.

Where is the sense of personal obligation here? Is this something the legal system can solve? What about executive authority? Who steps in when the rest of the political world steps out?

At the last supper, Jesus said “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)

The memorial to the passengers of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania contains these words, dedicated to those nameless travelers who gave their lives in the hope of preventing further loss during the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks. Like all victims of senseless violence the passengers on that airplane happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time yet the angels of their nature still helped them do the right thing; they died fighting -- for themselves and whoever was the ultimate target of the terrorists.

They looked danger – and each other – in the face and committed to doing whatever they could to improve the situation. For their sacrifice maybe hundreds or thousands of human beings are alive today.

It’s a sense of right and wrong that’s largely missing from people like Sheriff Scott Israel and some of his deputies in Broward County. Most Americans would agree law enforcement officers are some of the best of the best, but clearly there are exceptions.

Michael Graham wrote at The Federalist, “Israel also wants police to have the power to detain people without a warrant, take them in against their will, and give them a government -authorized evaluation of some kind—all based on a police officer’s opinion that you’ve posted something ‘disturbing’ on the web. Hey, there are plenty of angst-ridden teen boys out there to roust, and cops like Israel are more than happy to do it.

“Scaring dopey teens and banning AR-15s is easy. Following up on truly dangerous people, building a case about their mental health, getting the evidence a judge needs to act—that’s hard work. So is going into a building where shots are being fired. Cops aren’t heroes for doing ‘easy.’ They are heroes—and most of them are—for doing the hard stuff.”

If folks in police uniforms aren’t interested in serving and protecting, why become a policeman at all? A fireman doesn’t run into a burning building because he’s concerned about saving someone’s property or personal belongings. No one’s going to lay down their lives to preserve a piece of furniture or a family’s tax returns in a file cabinet.

Protecting people is what policemen and firemen sign up to do. Likewise teachers enter their profession because they want to improve the lives of their students – and many of them, if given the choice, would gladly shield their kids from threats of bodily harm or death.

So why not arm teachers? Firearms hating critics claim adding more guns to schools is a bad idea. Somewhere in the recesses of their paranoid minds these faultfinders envision some doped-up high school boy overpowering his 60 year-old female math teacher, taking her firearm and shooting up the class as she lies helpless on the floor in a pool of her own blood. But is this realistic?

Most of the proposals for arming teachers are strictly voluntary, meaning only those educators who choose to take on the responsibility and additional training will actually possess firearms. And it’s not like the guns will be in plain view on a teacher’s desk next to the apple a student brought for them, either. Reasonable precautions would be taken to ensure no motivated student could ever get access to the weapon. It’s really not that hard.

The idea makes too much sense. Deterrence is the main reasons to enact such a plan but should that fail, armed teachers can respond within seconds to a school shooter instead of the minutes involved with police response. And needless to say, cowardice is taken out of the equation completely. At the very least a firearms-trained teacher would be interested in self-preservation; shooting back comes naturally to everyone when there’s a crackpot blowing lead at you.

Still there are those who disagree, and they’re disrespectful and condescending, too. Sarah Westwood of the Washington Examiner reported, “Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee asked President Trump on Monday to engage in ‘a little more listening’ and ‘a little less tweeting’ on the issue of arming teachers, and said educators in his home state of Washington had rejected the proposal Trump floated last week as a way to tighten security in schools…

“’I have listened to the biology teachers and they don't want to do that, at any percentage,’ Inslee said, referring to Trump's suggestion last week that 10 or 20 percent of teachers could be incentivized to obtain concealed carry permits.

“’I have listened to the first grade teachers that don't want to be pistol-packing first grade teachers,’ Inslee said. ‘I have listened to law enforcement who have said they don't want to have to train teachers as law enforcement agencies, which takes about six months.’”

Apparently Inslee hasn’t listened to the citizens who would willingly step-up, especially if the incentives were high enough. One would suppose the concealed carry burden would include additional pay for training and assuming a “duty” with the noble purpose of (literally) protecting the student body.

Inslee’s “listening” diatribe also needlessly clusters all teachers into the “I don’t want to” category. Isn’t that prejudice? Don’t liberals normally hate it when others judge everyone by the group? It’s not all that different than saying Asian chemistry teachers refuse to arm themselves but white gym teachers like the idea. It’s stupid.

No plan is foolproof but “listening” involves taking in reality. The government can’t – and as we’ve seen, won’t – protect everyone. Scott McKay wrote at The American Spectator, “It’s even worse than you know. A viral indictment of Israel making its way around the internet connects this manifest failure to a collaborative plan between the school district and sheriff’s department not to investigate crimes committed by schoolchildren in Broward. If that indictment is true, Cruz’s massacre was a lot more foreseeable than we realize...

“The lesson of Parkland is that government doesn’t work. It doesn’t work because it’s too often run by political hacks, usually of a leftist variety, incapable of doing a proper job. We are, at the end of the day, on our own — and we must act accordingly.”

Should the political forces gathered in Washington fail to achieve a “meeting of the minds” on this issue we can assume a lot more people will take on the responsibility regardless. Governmental arrogance and incompetence like that displayed by Gov. Inslee and the keystone cop brigade in Broward County will breed citizen contempt and who knows -- maybe vigilantes.

The old saying “A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out” is little comfort when you have no clue whether friends are even prepared to assist when the time is ripe. It’s a lesson 17 unfortunate souls in Florida will no longer have the opportunity to appreciate.

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