The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was a tragic event. Particularly so in that could have been prevented. Not prevented by enacting more gun control laws. It could have been prevented by the proper administration and application of law enforcement and school administration.
But since the shooting four years ago, those who so clearly failed to do their jobs that day and in the years before have laid the blame for the massacre on law-abiding gun owners and the inanimate object the killer used.
Nikolas Cruz was a known threat. He was known by the administrators of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Broward County Public Schools, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI.
Here are some interesting facts about the shooter in the years leading up to his rampage.
Feb. 5, 2016: A Broward County Sheriff’s deputy is told by an anonymous caller that Nikolas Cruz, then 17, had threatened on Instagram to shoot up his school and posted a photo of himself with guns. The information is forwarded to BSO Deputy Scott Peterson (the same officer who failed to act during the shooting), a school resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Sept. 23, 2016: A “peer counselor” reports to Peterson that Cruz had possibly ingested gasoline in a suicide attempt, was cutting himself, and wanted to buy a gun. A mental health counselor advised against involuntary committing Cruz. The high school said it would conduct a threat assessment.
Sept. 28, 2016: An investigator for the Florida Department of Children and Families rules Cruz is stable, despite “fresh cuts” on his arms. His mother, Lynda Cruz, says in the past he wrote a racial slur against African Americans on his book bag and had recently talked of buying firearms.
Sept. 24, 2017: A YouTube user named “nikolas cruz” posted a comment stating he wants to become a “professional school shooter.” The comment is reported to the FBI in Mississippi, which fails to make the connection to Cruz in South Florida.
Nov. 1, 2017: Katherine Blaine, Lynda Cruz’s cousin, calls BSO to report that Nikolas Cruz had weapons and asks that police recover them. A “close family friend” agrees to take the firearms, according to BSO.
Nov. 29, 2017: The Palm Beach County family that took Cruz in after the death of his mother calls the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office to report a fight between Cruz and their son, 22. A member of the family says Cruz had threatened to “get his gun and come back” and that he has “put the gun to others’ heads in the past.” The family does not want him arrested once he calms down.
Nov. 30, 2017: A caller from Massachusetts calls BSO to report that Cruz is collecting guns and knives and could be a “school shooter in the making.” A BSO deputy advises the caller to contact the Palm Beach sheriff.
Jan. 5, 2018: A caller to the FBI’s tip line reports that Cruz has “a desire to kill people” and could potentially conduct a school shooting. The information is never passed on to the FBI’s office in Miami.
Note: this timeline does not include the 39 times Broward County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to complaints about Cruz’s behavior.
Also, back in 2013, the Broward County School Board adopted a program in which they don’t relay information to police about troubled students. NPR reported in Fla. School District Trying To Curb School-To-Prison Pipeline . . .
It’s a move away from so-called “zero tolerance” policies that require schools to refer even minor misdemeanors to the police. Critics call it a “school to prison pipeline.”
Under a new program adopted by the Broward County School District, non-violent misdemeanors — even those that involve alcohol, marijuana or drug paraphernalia — will now be handled by the schools instead of the police.
Cruz was banned from carrying a backpack at school after bullets were found in his backpack. Cruz was expelled from MSD in 2017 after a fight with his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend.
Again, Cruz gets a pass under the Broward County School Board’s official policy of requiring that schools don’t inform the police about non-violent incidents with troubled youth.
“There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus,” Maths teacher Jim Gard told The Miami Herald.
784.011 Assault. —
(1) An “assault” is an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, coupled with an apparent ability to do so, and doing some act which creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent.
A liberal, feel-good program stepped in the way of enforcing laws we have on the books. Cruz’s actions including fighting and making threats against students and teachers clearly constituted assault.
It is possible that Nikolas Cruz could have been Baker Acted and received the needed medical attention he required. But that wasn’t the case and sadly, 17 people lost their lives as a result.
But let’s go a step further and look directly at the issue of gun control.
After Parkland, there were calls for mandatory background checks. Florida law already required a mandatory background check that goes through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Firearm Purchase Program for every gun purchased from a gun store in the state.
From FDLE . . .
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Firearm Purchase Program began operations in 1991, as authorized by F.S. 790.065, which was enacted in 1989 and amended in 1990 by the Florida Legislature. F.S. 790.065 furthered the purposes of the federal Gun Control Act of 1968 (Title 18 U.S.C., Sections 921-929), with respect to regulating the sale and delivery of firearms by licensed firearm dealers to persons who are not licensed firearm dealers.
On November 30, 1993, The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, Title 18 U.S.C. Section 922(t), was passed by Congress. The interim version of this law became effective February 28, 1994, with the permanent version taking effect on November 30, 1998. The Brady Act requires all federal firearm licensees to conduct criminal background checks before selling or transferring a firearm to a non-licensed individual. In Florida, the FDLE Firearm Purchase Program implements the Brady Act at the state level.
It runs every purchase through the Florida Crime Information Center (FCIC) and the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). This is actually more rigorous than the FBI’s National instant Criminal background Check System (NICS).
On top of that, Florida law and the state constitution at the time required a mandatory three-day waiting period that each county could augment by five days.
Article I Section 8. Right to bear arms —
(b) There shall be a mandatory period of three days, excluding weekends and legal holidays, between the purchase and delivery at retail of any handgun. For the purposes of this section, “purchase” means the transfer of money or other valuable consideration to the retailer, and “handgun” means a firearm capable of being carried and used by one hand, such as a pistol or revolver. Holders of a concealed weapon permit as prescribed in Florida law shall not be subject to the provisions of this paragraph.
Article VIII Section 5. Local option —
(b) Each county shall have the authority to require a criminal history records check and a 3 to 5-day waiting period, excluding weekends and legal holidays, in connection with the sale of any firearm occurring within such county. For purposes of this subsection, the term “sale” means the transfer of money or other valuable consideration for any firearm when any part of the transaction is conducted on property to which the public has the right of access. Holders of a concealed weapons permit as prescribed by general law shall not be subject to the provisions of this subsection when purchasing a firearm.
Broward County had a five-day waiting period for all gun purchases per county ordinance § 18-96. Waiting period; prohibition and Cruz was under 21. That meant he couldn’t qualify for a concealed carry permit to skip the waiting period. So he actually had to wait the five days to acquire his rifle.
Additionally, 790.06 License to carry concealed weapon or firearm covers the full gamut of what requirements are needed to get a concealed carry permit and I need to summarize it because the list is too long for this article. Suffice to say, being 21 or older, going to a certified training course, not being a felon, and not having mental health issues are a few of the things that one would need to get a permit.
So that means that the gun store that sold the rifle Nikolas Cruz followed every law on the books.
Yet, since both the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and the Broward County School Board refused to document the multiple instances when and where Nikolas Cruz would have been disqualified for purchasing a firearm, he was never put into the very system that those in power preach about.
These were systemic failures that those in power — failures that government tried mightily to sweep under the rug and instead have laid blame at the feet of lawful gun owners.
The failures on the part of law enforcement, government officials and gun control laws led directly to what happened on that horrible day.
Feb. 14, 2018: Nikolas Cruz attacks Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school. Deputy Scot Peterson, the school’s resource officer, draws his gun outside the building where Cruz is shooting students and staff, but doesn’t enter the school and never attempts to confront Cruz. This is the same Deputy Peterson who Sgt. Greg Molamphy nominated as the Parkland Deputy of the Year in 2017. In a memo Molamphy sent to Lt. Michael DeVita, he wrote Peterson handled “issues that arise with tact and solid judgment.”
Peterson was awol when seconds counted. People were made defenseless because of asinine laws like gun-free zones and instead of fighting back against Nikolas Cruz, teachers had to shield students with their bodies and die.
Gun free zones didn’t work. Waiting periods didn’t work. Law enforcement didn’t work, and neither did the school administration itself. The blood of innocents stains the hands of those in charge, not law-abiding Florida gun owners.
In 2018, I stood before the Florida Senate and laid this out . . .
They didn’t care. Instead the Republican supermajority caved to political pressure and passed even more gun control laws. Remember this every year at this time when the gun control industry points to Parkland as justification for further limiting Americans’ gun rights.
Luis Valdes is the Florida Director for Gun Owners of America.