• The murder of 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida was a tragedy of epic proportions
  • The blame rests squarely on a failure of government, not on law abiding citizens exercising their rights
  • The National Rifle Association has no power without its members turning out to vote, and those who identify as members
  • The actual number of NRA members vs those who consider themselves NRA members is probably somewhere around 1 to 5 in Outstate America

There is no greater tragedy than the murder of a child in a place where that child should be secure.  Although the number of teenagers who die, or kill others, while texting and driving is many times greater than those killed in school shootings, the emotional impact is no less horrific.  Statistics or hard facts do not lessen the emotional impact or the motivation to “do something.”  However, it should never be a matter of doing something, it is a matter of doing the right thing.

Let’s put aside the very valid arguments about individual freedoms, constitutional guarantees, and God given rights, and instead focus on numbers and logic.  In 2009 the Congressional Research Service estimated there were 300 million guns in this country.  I personally think that number was low at the time and has grown steadily since then.  We might be working with 350 to 400 million guns in the hands of the American citizenry.  I am not sure of the methodology of the Congressional Research Service, but I know people that keep a Glock in a safe by their beds, but because they don’t target shoot and don’t have a permit to carry, they don’t consider themselves gun owners.  I know people who have amazing collections of museum quality weapons that when asked will respond that they don’t own guns, it is not anyone’s business.  I also know folks that have guns that date back to the time of the Spanish American War that are still serviceable and extremely effective at long ranges.  Long story short, there are more guns out there than the experts think.  If we were to send law enforcement door to door to collect those guns (which law enforcement would overwhelming refuse to do), it would touch off a civil war.  Hypothetically, if we were to find a government sponsored group of armed individuals that were willing to trample our constitution, they would not be able to confiscate all the guns, not even close.  Whether you are for or against the 2nd Amendment, any realist would have to come to the conclusion that mass gun ownership in this country is a fact and even if future gun purchases were halted it would have little impact on protecting our children.

Some of the ideas that are currently being advanced under the “we have to do something” mantra would do the wrong thing.  The “somethings” they would have done to us would make us less free, less secure, and our children less safe.  If our aim is to protect our children, nothing other than actually physically protecting our children will accomplish that goal.

The blame for the Parkland massacre cannot be blamed on an inanimate object in the form of a firearm, or the lack of laws, which we have and don’t enforce, nor should we blame the law-abiding NRA members that believe in our constitution.  The blame for Parkland lies squarely at the feet of the shooter, and a failure of government.  The Parkland shooter, who will remain nameless, was known to police, and they received more than a dozen calls on him before the massacre. The Parkland shooter threatened students and was banned from campus with a backpack on him; we can reasonably infer authorities were concerned he would perpetrate violence with some sort of weapon that might be carried in his backpack. Reportedly, the FBI was warned twice about the Parkland shooter.  The armed school resource officer is shown in surveillance footage standing outside the school while the murders were taking place.  According to members of the Coral Springs police department, three other Sheriff’s Deputies hid behind their cars with their weapons drawn rather than stopping the shooter.  I know a lot of people in the law enforcement community and Parkland is a touchy subject that they will only rant about in private.  Law enforcement gets a paycheck for two things: what they do and what they may have to do.  The sheriff’s deputies that waited outside did not earn the second half of their paycheck that day. Government failed. Government failed a second time.  Government failed a third time. And Government failed fourth time.  The solution is not more government control and less freedom.  The solution is enforcing the laws we already have, learning from the mistakes that were made by various government entities, and holding government and government employees accountable for what happened in Parkland, and going forward.

The “March for our Lives” crowd was especially vicious toward the NRA.  The marchers had no idea what the NRA actually is.  They seem to have some contorted notion that the NRA is Wayne LaPierre hanging out in Fairfax, Virginia making political payoffs.  The attacks against the NRA are attacks against its members.  The NRA is just not five million members, but many millions more who claim to be members, and millions even more who fly the NRA flag or put a NRA sticker on their truck in support.  This is just my personal estimate, but here in the Outstate it seems that for every one person that is an actual NRA member, there are well over five that are unofficially NRA members that hold beliefs and convictions inline with the organization.  To make things even pronounced, the gun rights community has many other organizations similar to the NRA, and regardless of whether they are official or unofficial members of any gun rights group, one progun member of a household has a big influence on the voting habits of the rest of the family.  I have never met Wayne LaPierre, I am sure he is a nice guy, but he is just one person amongst millions of people in the gun rights movement.  Politicians are not afraid of the NRA, they are scared to death of the gun rights voter.  Undoubtedly, the NRA and other pro-freedom groups can spend money on ads to get their voters to the polling stations, but the ads themselves don’t get to vote, people do.  Bashing the NRA is bashing millions of law abiding, patriotic, tax paying citizens.  The only thing bashing the NRA will accomplish is giving the NRA the ability to successfully fundraise a lot of money to spend on telling the truth about politicians that want to take away our guns and freedoms.  The “March for our Lives” initiative has already failed because the gun rights community now has the narrative and the resources necessary to mobilize their voters.

Not every student that was present at the Parkland massacre got to speak at the “March for our Lives” demonstration in Washington D.C.  The event was carefully crafted to make sure only certain voices and narratives were heard.  The message was perfectly delivered.  While politicians talked about unspecified “common sense gun safety measures”, the “March for our Lives” movement was very clear in their desire to repeal the 2nd Amendment and confiscate your firearms.  The thousands of handmade signs at those anti-gun demonstrations across our country betray the real meaning of those political sound bites as “common sense gun safety measures” is government taking away your guns and your rights.