For more than a week since the mass shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Americans have suffered through another one of our periodic fights about gun control, which are painful, divisive, and ultimately irresolvable.
Yet two revelations suggest that the debate has been largely unnecessary. Had the FBI and the Broward County police done their jobs, the shooting might not have happened, or could have been stopped.
First, we learned that the FBI had been warned — twice — about the suspect.
In September 2017, the FBI received a tip that a YouTube user with the same name as the alleged shooter posted a disturbing comment: “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.” Somehow, the FBI could not track him down.
Then, just last month, the FBI received another, more specific tip, warning that the shooter was armed and planned to attack the school. But it did nothing.
Second, the public learned Thursday that a Broward County sheriff’s deputy had been armed and present outside the school during the attack, but declined to enter the building and engage the shooter. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel revealed that less than 24 hours after he sat onstage at a CNN town hall and led an angry audience in blaming the National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment. Two other Broward County sheriff’s deputies are also under investigation for failing to follow up on a November tip about the shooter.
In sum: because the FBI failed to do its duty, and the local police failed to do their duty, Americans are in danger of losing their constitutional rights.
The danger is real There are serious proposals on the table that would deny adults the ability to buy rifles until the age of 21 — not just “AR-15 rifles, but basic .22-caliber rifles designed for shooting paper targets at 50 feet, or even the biathlon rifles we have watched on TV this week at the Olympic Winter Games.
Some of the ideas that are being debated seem more sensible, like a ban on “bump stocks,” which is backed by the NRA. But some of them are, as usual, aimed at establishing a beachhead for gun control, rather than at solving the immediate problem of keeping children safe in our schools.
And, as usual, the left is exploiting a moment of panic to pursue its ideological ends: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,” as Rahm Emanuel infamously said.
President Donald Trump set a remarkably civil tone in his “Listening Session” at the White House on Wednesday, when he brought students, parents, teachers, and community leaders together. America watched as the participants offered widely divergent views on guns — passionately, and even tearfully, but always respectfully. It was the kind of discussion the public has been longing for — on any issue.
The CNN town hall later the same day was more typical: an agenda-driven exercise in demagoguery, an orgy of blaming and shaming, calculated to divide.
And it was pointless. The FBI agents and the police officers who dropped the ball failed to uphold their oaths of office, which commit them not only to protect the American people but also the U.S. Constitution.
We should be punishing government ineptitude — not negotiating away our rights.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.