Parkland 3

At a time when a bomb in an Army in-processing center was a credible threat, I did search for a bomb in one.  I had nothing to help me find one but my eyes, and nothing to protect me if I did find one but the clothes I wore.  Today, possessing the wisdom that comes with age, I view what I did as foolhardy, rather than brave.  I would like to think I’d have rushed that Florida school the other day if presented with the situation, but I can’t honestly be sure I would.

I am aware that it’s their job—what they signed up for.  Broward County sheriff’s deputies at Parkland school should have confronted Nikolas Cruz.  I wish they would have, but I’m pretty sure the deputy stationed at the school, and the first ones who responded weren’t properly equipped to even try.  Keep in mind too that former deputy Scot Peterson said he thought the shooter was outside the school.

Most cops these days carry Glock 9mm handguns equipped with a 17-round magazine.  A round in the chamber (not the safest thing to do), makes 18 shots.  With a second clip, 35.  Put that against a crazy school shooter equipped with a semi-automatic rifle (maybe even automatic), and who knows how many higher capacity magazines.  Add to it that you don’t know exactly where the shooter is, you don’t know whether the shooter has body armor, but you do know you don’t have it. 

Remember also that shooting what you aim at, especially when under pressure is hard.  The other night where I live, cops and perps exchanged fire at close range near midnight and nobody hit anyone.  And a rifle is more accurate than a pistol, even at relatively close range.

I’m sorry, a single armed police officer, security guard or even several, won’t solve the school violence problem.  Even with a handgun, they really aren’t equipped to address an active shooter.  The school-shooting problem is multi-faceted, and we must face that fact.  Additional cameras inside schools would help security to figure out a way to confront the shooter more safely.  Yes, improved mental health screening, and treatment will help.  But, they won’t take the place of additional gun control, which—face it—is necessary.  Saying we shouldn’t ban or control some firearms because most gun crimes are perpetrated with handguns is nonsense.  Three lefts make a right:  two wrongs don’t.  If background checks exempt private sales, internet sales, and gun-show sales, background checks are basically window dressing.  Maybe some properly trained, armed teachers might help, but armed teachers come with additional problems.  What if school security shot, and killed a young-looking teacher who was trying to take out a shooter?  What if some kid overpowered a teacher in class and started shooting up the place with the teacher’s gun?  What if a female teacher carried her piece in her purse, put it down, and someone grabbed it?

I hate it when people suggest there’s one, single and simple solution to school shootings.  It’s much more complicated than that.  As they grew up, I always told my kids that if what they were doing wasn’t working, they ought to try something else.  Clearly, thoughts and prayers haven’t worked.  Just as clearly, it’s time to try a bunch of something elses.

Parkland 2

I got one reason why a lot of gun control advocates want to ban AR-15 assault rifles, and are less concerned about other semi-automatic weapons.  It’s a good one too.  It seems the AR-15 is the weapon of choice for a lot of the people who have perpetrated these awful mass shootings.

I suppose it has something to do with the military appearance of the weapons and the mental deficiencies of the sick people who perpetrate these disastrous crimes.

By the way, have you read about Nikolas Cruz’ defense attorney?  Florida does have the death penalty.  Methods of choice are lethal injection, or electric chair.  Her only hope for the kid is an insanity plea, but on TV she sounded sympathetic to him, talking about the impulse control of a 19-year-old perp.  At 19, he’s an adult and responsible for his actions.  The Catholic church says children know right from wrong in second or third grade and that’s when Catholic children are supposed to start going to Confession.  I was a lot younger than 19 when I came upon an attempted suicide.  My life would have been easier if the victim had succeeded, but I knew turning around and leaving was wrong.  I called 911.  That person did survive. 

Impulse control my ass!  There’s a huge difference between shoplifting a candy bar and killing 17 people.

Speaking of atrocious things happening in the USA, have you noticed how many news articles there around recently about teachers involved in inappropriate and/or illegal sexual conduct with their students?  There’s even one teacher who is suing claiming that the law against teachers having sex with their pupils is unconstitutional because it singles out teachers without mentioning other occupations.  Is this happening more and more often, or are we just hearing about these incidents more?  How do these people not realize that their actions will ruin their students lives and their lives too?


If there’s a reason that assault rifles like the AR-15 are more dangerous than other semi-automatic rifles (for example: do they take larger magazines?) then I’d appreciate knowing.  Otherwise are all the calls to ban assault weapons just something people want to do as a symbol?

For the record, I don’t own a gun and never have.  I am familiar with them.  My dad was a cop.  When he was, he owned two pistols.  When he stopped being a cop, he sold both.  Like the 70’s TV detective, Mannix, and long before him, my dad wore his off-duty revolver (a snub-nosed 38) in the small of his back.  Doing that will eat a hole in the back of your car’s driver’s seat.  I always wondered why Mannix never had that problem.

As an MP, I used a pistol in my work.  Both in the Army and at Boy Scout Camp, I fired other weapons too.  I’m not a good shot, and never had the desire to own a gun myself.  I’m also for more gun control, provided it will help.  Clearly, we need something to help.  Just as clearly, I am at a loss what to do.

Thoughts, prayers and condolences aren’t going to do a lot to help all the dead people in Parkland Florida.  This problem, the 18th school shooting in the U.S. so far this year (more than two a week), requires far more than platitudes. 

After the fact, people said Nikolas Cruz was the one person they thought might shoot up a school.  He’s not the first school shooter that was said about.  So closer monitoring of potential problems is probably part of it.  Something like the way the FBI keeps track of possible terrorists.  I know that’s not the only answer.  I’ve read that the FBI was aware of Cruz 5 months ago.  Better mental-health treatment could be part of it too.  While nobody was paying attention, prisons seem to have become the most prevalent source of mental health care in the USA.  That’s wrong and needs to be fixed too.

I don’t have a solution, or even something I’m sure will improve things.  Since I don’t, I wish someone did.  I do know thoughts, prayers and condolences aren’t getting the job done.  Clearly, it’s time to try other things.

Things I Know

A couple of lessons learned. 

Review your home and car insurance occasionally.  When my car insurance renewal arrived with a 7.5% increase, I asked my broker about both my auto and my homeowner’s policies.  They requoted, and between the two saved me around $2,500 annually.  If your current broker can’t help you, get another estimate.  The savings could be very substantial.  Conclusion:  review these more often that I’ve  been doing.

I expected to receive a new camera body for Christmas, and I did.  So, I should have bought a spare battery and charger for it, before it arrived.  That way, when I opened the present, I would have a fully-charged battery, so I could use the new camera right away.  And, if I didn’t get the new camera, I could always have return the extra battery and charger.  No harm, no foul.

Kudos to Biddeford, the people who make electric blankets.  I have a dual control model that’s four or five years old.  One of the controls broke.  I called Biddeford about buying a new control.  Instead, they sent me a new one, free of charge.  They told me it would take up to three weeks to get here, but it didn’t.  It only took 11 days.

Democrats have been in charge of the top offices in New York’s Nassau County and the Town of Hempstead, for a month now.  So far, nothing terrible has happened, and I don’t expect anything will.

On the petty side, the newly elected Town Clerk arrived to find her office stripped of furniture and computer equipment.  A town-owned car was also missing.  That situation, which never should have happened, has been corrected.

An employee of the Town of Hempstead was riding an elevator at Town Hall, recently.  Another passenger in the elevator asked him what he did for the town.  His answer: “As little as possible.” Even Especially a smart ass should probably take the time to learn what the newly-elected Town Supervisor looks like.

Supervisor, Laura Gillen, says she’ll have a performance audit of snow removal during the recent storm.  Makes sense for the new management to see how things are going and whether they can be improved.