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Gun rights groups should take lead in prevention of tragedies
Fellow students and teachers who know Nickolas Cruz were shocked but not particularly surprised when it turned out that he was the one behind the mass murder Wednesday in Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
Recently kicked out of the school, he and his biological brother had been adopted by Lynda Cruz and her husband, but her husband died of a heart attack several years ago, and Lynda died of pneumonia Nov. 1.
The boys went to live with relatives, then Nickolas moved in with a friend and his parents.
Nineteen years old, 5-foot-7 and 131 pounds, Nickolas allegedly decided to take out his anger at the world by equipping himself with a gas mask, smoke grenades and multiple magazines of ammunition, pulling a fire alarm at his old school and systematically walking up the halls, murdering teachers and students.
The couple who allowed Cruz to stay with them knew he had an AR-15, and made him keep it locked up, but let him keep a key. They were reportedly “not social media people” and didn’t monitor postings that might have given them a clue.
We didn’t hear any “now is not the time to talk about gun control” comments this time, but President Trump did tweet about the need to report erratic behavior:
“So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!” Trump tweeted today.
That advice goes without saying, but we did see a New York Times opinion piece passed along on social media this morning comparing potential gun control with the automobile.
Gun rights advocates often compare the number of firearm fatalities to automobile deaths — and, like guns and bombs, motor vehicles can easily be turned into terror weapons.
As the writer pointed out, however, while we don’t ban automobiles, we do regulate them heavily. As a result, the death rate per 100 million miles driven has been reduced by 95 percent since 1921.
Unfortunately, and also like guns, it’s difficult to keep vehicles out of the hands of those who would do innocent people harm.
Perhaps the parallel could be stretched a bit farther — we get a lot of useful information from the American Automobile Association, which promotes safe travel as well as helping stranded motorists and providing other services.
It’s in AAA’s best interest to encourage people to drive, and do so responsibly.
When President Richard Nixon re-established diplomatic relations with China, it was observed that “only Nixon could go to China.”
That was because, as a virulent anti-communist during the McCarthy era, he had the credentials to break the ice with the world’s largest communist nation.
With the current Congress and administration, any attempt at gun control is unlikely to gain traction.
But we have had 18 school shootings so far this year, and 2018 is only 46 days old. By some counts, there have been 290 school shootings in America since 2013.
Like AAA and cars, Nixon and China, gun rights advocacy groups should take the lead in finding a way to curtail such tragedies while maintaining responsible firearm ownership.