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Here we go again with yet another “national conversation” about guns that is neither a conversation nor national. And not productive.

Understandably, as with the Newtown, Conn., elementary school massacre in 2012, the agonized outcries and visceral fears after the outrageous Broward high school deaths on Feb. 14 erupt from parents who entrust their most prized treasures to a public school. The betrayal is horrendous. The suffering unimaginable. And we flail around trying to find answers for the unimaginable, the inexplicable, the unacceptable.

There must be something we can do to prevent such awful events. There is. We could have.

We’ve heard the tiresome, trite arguments from all sides. You know, Second Amendment, our blessed children, only government can do something, government has no place, yada yada.

No one needs a crystal ball to know what will come of all this: Nothing. Same as after previous incidents.

Remember a little more than five years ago to protect himself against political backlash, President Obama handed the molten gun-control debate to Vice President Joe Biden to honcho new restrictions through Congress so school shootings would never happen again? Nothing.

We could do what Israel’s been doing in large schools for decades after terrorists killed scores of children in an attack. Lock the doors. Train and arm a few unidentified teachers to conceal-carry.

Perhaps some new restrictions will be necessary. Recall after the even worse mass shooting in Las Vegas last fall even the National Rifle Association endorsed restrictions on the so-called bump stocks that turned his long guns into virtual automatic weapons. What happened after that “national conversation”?

Nothing, until last week when the president ordered a ban.

So, here’s a silly idea that doesn’t involve dramatic photo ops outside the Capitol. It’s not something to fuel angry marches for news cameras. Won’t fire up cable show bookers to get guests arguing vehemently between the Pepcid and Cialis ads.

This isn’t a game played out for anyone’s entertainment — or political gain. Why don’t we try making all the existing enforcement and preventive tools work — really work — before we slide routinely into the comfortable, predictable and almost certainly unproductive arguments about dubious news ones?

It may sound unrewarding if you want to stay hysterical or score political points. Congress members would have to give up statements of rage when seemingly encountering reporters by accident in Capitol hallways. And as tempting as it might be to an impulsive president under FBI investigation, he’d have to forsake self-serving tweet storms against that agency.

If the goal is not just to score political points — how silly to even mention such an outlandish idea these days, right? — but actually to make such murderous mayhem less likely, it’s pretty smart to do what you already can do legally. Try the obvious. It’s so crazy, it might just work.

Let’s look at the Broward County tragedy with a touch of pragmatism: This confessed killer had a long history of anti-social behavioral problems and mental trouble. Sounds eerily familiar.

God bless well-meaning foster parents for their dedication, charity and hopes, but adults in the home are society’s early warning radar. He was on strong medications. Good for him probably. But if he’s still killing small animals for sport in an urban environment, as neighbors report, there’s another red flag that didn’t get waved.

He’s been a long-time problem in high school such that it expelled him. Red Flag. Not waving. And fellow students warned. Police visited his home 39 times. That’s 39 more flags.

Everybody talks about cancer in America. But mental health is touchy; someone’s obvious maniac is another’s harmless crazy uncle. In 2016, the kid made a Snapchat video while cutting his arms and announcing he was going to buy a gun.

The state’s Department of Children and Families arranged a psychiatric evaluation. Yes, he had the cuts and a swastika on his book bag. But he was taking his meds on schedule and laws only allow holding someone 72 hours. He was deemed not ready for hospitalization.

Last September, the FBI got a tip about a Nikolas Cruz vowing online he was going to become a professional school shooter. Let’s be fair here just for a sec: Law enforcement gets thousands of tips about bad stuff. Most are bad tips. We only hear about ones that get through the cracks.

The FBI took a Russian tip and interviewed the Boston bombers. But did nothing. Now it says it couldn’t find Nikolas Cruz. Seriously? Red flag waving.

Forget for a moment arguing whether any civilian outside the Middle East needs such a weapon, this kid followed all existing rules and laws. He passed the established background check. He purchased an AR-15 and ammo and numerous magazines. Why? Because existing red flags weren’t in the system.

In January, on a government tip line a man told an FBI employee about his friend’s behavior, gun and plans to shoot up a school. The tip went nowhere. Seriously? Red flag waving. Also rockets going off.

Remember 9/11 and the after-report that found numerous little pieces of separate suspicious planning on file that others knew nothing about?

“Everything everybody seems to know, we didn’t know,” said a bereaved foster father. The same could be said for dozens of other people and institutions along this latest lethal way.

So, what new law could make people do what they already can do but aren’t?

Andrew Malcolm is an author and veteran national and foreign correspondent covering politics since the 1960s. Follow him @AHMalcolm.


(11) comments


Mocha is so funny ...,
We forgot to laugh.
A geezer, without a cause. ,no doubt.


Kingman, I own ARs and autos. Never when in contact with either have I felt it forcing me to kill someone. But that is the liberal thought process. Guns are evil and they make people do evil things. In truth some people are evil and are going to do evil things whether with a gun, pressure cooker or truck. You can ban or blame all the inanimate objects you want for evil but that will not ban evil and evil will find a way. Most of these shooters are fatherless males. Does the fact that we have so many broken homes, single parent households, disconnected fathers, or fathers who believe all the tripe about toxic masculinity have an impact on these shooters. Couple that with these lost boys getting stardom by the media and you have a toxic brew where evil thrives.


well then mocha, let's legalize hand grenades, bombs, missiles and other deadly military type devices, they are just inanimate objects. They don't force anyone to kill. They are just innocent little toys for the amusement of the owner. Of course you will never erase evil in this world, every person has a dark side to them. Some more than others. But your reasoning is childish. As a society that wants to survive and promote harmony and peace, we must try to establish laws that makes it harder for evil to bring chaos among the people. No one law or combination of laws will ever do that completely, but we must try to bring some civility among the population. And we will never be able to predict future behavior for every person, no matter what the profile is. The fact is, as Ronald Reagan says, that military type weapons have no place for personal protection or for sport among the civilian population. Common sense isn't it. Just like you don't let little kids in a day care play with razor blades, an inanimate object. You keep them away. But the gun worshiper mind would say give all the kids razor blades to protect themselves.


is meth illegal?? that being said, it is still a HUGE problem. The same thing will be about illegal firearms, they will be available!!!


well then lets just not have any laws, because some will chose to break them. Yes what's the use of having laws then if every single person does not follow them. NO speed limits, no murder laws, no laws against anything. That make sense to you mocha!.


A gun is nothing more than a tool. It will lie still for a hundred years and never kill anything until someone picks it up and uses it, we have freedoms in our country that allow people to make bad choices. Should we castrate all men because a few are rapists? Of couarse not, so, leave my legally owned AR 15 alone, because it has never hurt anyone.


the gummit is coming for that ar15 real soon hoaxer. Yes they will take it away and melt it down in to a statue of Obama or Hillary. ONly then is it an inanimate object that can hurt no one. In fact it will be something you can really enjoy by reminding yourself of how crazy you were not to support them. Be sure to keep the statue dusted and shiny. I think it would look best on top of the cabinet where you once kept your ar15.


Kingman, Reagan banned fully automatic weapons, machine guns, ..The AR available to the public is not a machine gun. Remington, Winchester, Ruger , Benneli, Mossburg, etc all sell semi-automatic weapons that fire in similar fashion to the Civilian AR. Are these all weapons of war too? Most experienced shooters can fire a pump action gun as fast as a semi automatic, are they then also weapons of war. Automobiles combined with alcohol are a lot more distructive to our society than AR rifles, should they also be listed as weapons of war. It is estimated about ten people per day are killed as a result of texting and driving, should smart phones also be on your war weapons list. Let’s stop the emotional driven madness use some critical thinking common sense solutions, instead of pushing agendas.


There are statistics and there are damned statistics, mocha, and you prefer the latter. About 90 percent of American households own a car, only about 30 percent own a firearm. Of those with cars, most of them use the car at least several times a week, and families with multiple cars use them multiple times a day. That means an awful lot of daily use of automobiles in this country. There are more than 300 million firearms in this country, owned by 30 percent of the households. Do they use them daily? I would not think so, though there are those like Buggs Raplin who like to take there six shooters out daily and stroke them. There are about 37,000 automobile deaths annually in this country resulting from hundreds of millions of separate operations of cars in a years time. There are not anything like hundreds of millions of separate instances of using a gun in a year in this country, but there are almost as many gun deaths annually as there are car deaths, 34,000. You are comparing apples and oranges. Your smarmy argument about semi-automatic weapons not being machine guns means nothing with bump stocks making them into automatic weapons. And you do not address the high capacity clips of ammo that make these weapons into terrifyingly effective people-killing machines. If you are boasting of your own "critical thinking common sense", you have embarrassed yourself once again.


here is an update mocha1, yes Reagan banned fully automatic weapons and helped implement the ban on assault weapons after leaving office. He said they have no place for sport or self defense. You can look here: So what does that make your founder of modern day conservatism? Just a liberal that doesn't know what they are talking about. Comparing autos and weapons of war is asinine. Something I would expect from someone who doesn't know what they are talking about.


Yes just enforce existing laws, thats the drumbeat of the NRA. Don't change anything, keep the weapons of war available to the public. Malcom doesn't realize that no system is ever perfect. Mental illness is not an exact science and we cannot predict future behavior with any accuracy. Someone is always going to slip through the cracks in this big country. The fact is the shooter at the Parkland school broke no laws before the shooting. He obtained a weapon of war legally, and the ammo while being only 19 years of age. The shooter in Vegas broke no laws before he shot up the place. What happened to banning bump stocks. The NRA said it was behind outlawing them, but privately it made sure congress took no action. We don't need a new law outlawing weapons of war, just the old law that outlawed them during Reagan's terms. He supported the ban, and supported keeping it in place. Was he a loony liberal?

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