First line of defense


A week after a mass shooting in a Florida school reminded us that this nation has a problem with mass murders that isn’t going away, a precautionary ‘lockout’ in our schools reminded us there probably isn’t a government solution to that problem— even on a local level.

Law enforcement acted appropriately in notifying school officials that there was a potential threat. Our schools did the right thing in implementing a ‘lockout’— which allowed them to heighten security in their buildings, and exert greater control over access to them, while allowing students and teachers to proceed with their day. Officials also performed admirably by notifying the public of the lockout and informing us that a potential threat was being investigated.

Fortunately, local officials responded to a perceived danger by taking the necessary steps to secure the safety of our children and making us aware of the situation. Unfortunately, we live in a world where such steps are necessary, even when the probability of an attack is admittedly low. A failure to act on reports of a potential threat in Florida clearly contributed to the horror that occurred at Stoneman Douglas High School, and we’re glad local officials demonstrated a desire to act when a potential threat was reported here.

But in most of the mass shootings that have occurred in this country in the past two decades, potential threats weren’t reported prior to catastrophe, and the even more deadly Las Vegas shooting just a few months ago proved that many of these killers give little indication at all of their plans prior to executing them.

But these acts are being committed by human beings— no matter how evil they may have become— and basic human instinct dictates that they will reveal something—  if they have somebody to reveal it to. In other words, the one characteristic the vast majority of these mass murderers share is some level of isolation, and our best defense lies in reaching out as humans and simply engaging others when they appear isolated. That’s not something “officials” can do for us, but it is something we must do for ourselves, or next time we may not have the opportunity to take precautionary measures.


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