How Old is Old Enough?

When should a person be considered an adult? Is there a specific age where, like it or not, you are an adult? 18?  21?  35?  Or is it an accomplishment? Your first full time job? Graduating from college?  Marriage?  For me, its hard to pinpoint a time when I started to feel like an adult. I was a pretty responsible kid, but immature in a lot of ways, too. I do remember after I had been married for a year or so, realizing how smart my parents really were.  Maybe that was it.  I’m really not sure.

The notion of adulthood has come to the forefront again with the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.  As usual, the focus of how to prevent these things from happening has been solely on passing new legislation to regulate gun ownership.  In a disturbing twist, the mainstream media decided to use the children who survived this horrific event to further their agenda.  After CNN staged a supposed town hall meeting, several of these young people were turned into spokespeople for the cause.  This has caused other teens across the country to adopt the cause, resulting in the minor civil disobedience which took place today.  Great. A whole new generation being trained to throw hissy fits and focus on the wrong end of the problem.

As a result of all this teen angst, the question of age and adulthood has come up as it pertains to gun ownership.  The State of Florida, under political pressure to “DO SOMETHING”, recently passed legislation requiring the purchaser of a long gun to be 21 years of age, raising the age limit from 18.  This was much celebrated on the left, as the most recent shooter happened to be 19.  Many of the same folks cheering this bill have advocated for the voting age to be reduced to 16. Hmm. In other words, they think a 16 year old is responsible enough (at least the 16 year olds who agree with their agenda) to make decisions on who will lead their community and country. To me, there is a major logical disconnect here.

Let’s talk through this. At the age of 16, we put our kids in a 3000 pound car and send them out on the road. I’m on the road a lot. I can tell you first hand, it is a dangerous place to be, where decisions have to be made quickly. But a 16 year old can legally get out there put the pedal down. Over 2,000 teens die every year in car crashes.  On top of that, we give them a phone, knowing full well they are not physically capable of putting the darn things down for a minute. When I see someone doing something stupid on the road, I assume it’s because they’re looking at their phone.  Some have decided 16 year olds should be able to vote, based solely on some of the reactions of students to the Parkland shooting. I remember being 16. I had opinions on everything and would happily share them. Some things never change.  Anyway, I realize now I had a pretty poor understanding of the world and how things work at that age. I’m very glad 16 year olds can’t vote.

At the age of 18, you are considered to be ‘of age’.  You more or less get treated like an adult.  At 18, you can legally sign a contract, be sued, and die for your country. Yes, at 18, you can join the military, where they will issue you an M-4 (an actual assault weapon), and teach you everything about it, including how to more effectively kill our enemies. If you are killed in combat, you can receive a military funeral.  At 18.  But you can’t buy alcohol, and in Florida, you cannot buy a rifle.  Right.  Makes sense only if you’re more interested in controlling things you don’t like than actually protecting anyone.  Apparently, some magic happens in those 3 years and you become more responsible at age 21.  Yes, most continue to mature and gain some life experience.  But how can we justify letting 18 year olds vote and die for our country, but not buy a rifle or a beer?  Just. Plain. Stupid.

We need to decide.  The decision needs to make sense and be consistent.  You’re an adult or you’re not.  Maybe this shouldn’t be determined by age.  Are 18 year olds today as mature as those 20 years ago? I don’t know and I don’t really have a strong opinion either way.  I do know its silly to ban an 18 year old from buying a rifle, while we’ll issue one to him and expect him to risk his life using it.

Placing the Blame

Any time something bad happens, human nature dictates we assess blame for the incident. Whether it’s a minor traffic accident or a major crime, someone is to blame.  Sometimes multiple people.  Placing of blame can be important as it allows for efforts to prevent similar crimes to be focused where a difference might be made. But as is always the case, the anti-gun crowd immediately jumped on their favorite inanimate object of blame, the AR-15, and their favorite group of blame, the NRA, following the recent shooting at the school in Florida. It’s a familiar pattern which never ceases to irritate.

There are many people who share the blame for the horrors which occurred at the Parkland school.  Sadly, none of them are being discussed by the media.  Instead, they’re obeying their leftist masters and continuing to push the “guns are bad, especially the AR-15” agenda which has possessed them.  In this article, I’d like to discuss where the blame should be placed.  Sadly, there is plenty to around.

The primary blame lies squarely with the shooter. I won’t use his name.  This seems pretty obvious to me, but is apparently lost on the left.  Even though the media continuously showed the shooter’s face on TV, I never heard a single reporter actually lay the blame on him.  In dozens of Facebook posts continuing to today, I’ve yet to see any discussion of his responsibility for his actions from the left. By all accounts, this guy was a ticking time bomb.  His family was scared of him. His classmates were scared of him. He threatened numerous people publicly and posted photos of cruelty to animals. Everyone seemed to know he was destined to shoot up a school. He knew damn well what he was doing every time he pulled the trigger. He’s sick, but he’s still responsible.

He is not alone in his culpability. Since 2008, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office visited his home somewhere between 23 and 45 times (depending on whom you believe), many concerning specific threats he made against others. They were called an additional 18 times.  These threats should have resulted in his arrest and involuntary evaluation by a psychiatrist.  Had this happened, he could have been included on the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and his attempts to purchase the weapons he used to murder 17 people denied.  In addition, the FBI had been notified at least twice about him, including once where he literally said he planned to become “a professional school shooter”.  But nothing was done.  Two agencies whose primary reason for existence is to protect the public, utterly and completely failed.  They failed to do the simplest of duties, but a duty which could well have stopped this crime.  People lose their minds over a kid chewing a Pop Tart into the shape of a gun, but these people let this guy go after making direct threats.  Unacceptable.

Speaking of failed duties, plenty of blame lies with the Broward County deputy assigned to be the school resource officer.  When the shooting started, he did nothing.  He stayed outside the school, listening to kids be slaughtered, kids for which he was responsible for keeping safe, for at least four minutes.  Think about that for just a second.  Think about standing outside a school for four minutes hearing the shots. Hearing the screams. And just standing there. There are reports that four other deputies were on site, who also did nothing.  There are also reports they were told to not entire the building by headquarters unless they had their body cameras turned on.  None had a body camera. I can’t vouch for the truth of that report.  It doesn’t matter to me either way. There was at least one armed, trained, law enforcement officer on scene who did absolutely nothing to stop this crime. I’m not going to question his courage, but he failed to do his duty.  Period. There is no excuse.  This opinion is shared by the Coral Springs police officers who were the actual first law enforcement officers to enter the school.

The Broward County Sheriff’s Department apparently suffers from a lack of effective leadership. Sheriff Scott Israel has shown himself to be more politician than law enforcement professional.  He has consistently deflected any blame for the lack of action based on numerous interactions with the shooter and for the lack of action of at least one of his officers. He sat on stage during the ambush staged by CNN as a “town hall” meeting, knowing all of these deficiencies.  But when questioned by the NRA’s representative, he refused to answer, choosing instead to fall back on the anti-gun frenzy in the room. He has passed up no chance to be on camera and blame others, not once accepting any responsibility. He may be the sheriff, but he is no leader. The failures of his department are his.

It is clear where the blame should be placed.  It also lies with a society which places little value on two parent homes or respect for others. It lies with the media who put the killer’s face on a loop and care more about their editorial spin than actually solving the issue. It lies with a general lack of respect for human life.  But none of these people or factors are being discussed. No, it is the NRA’s fault.  It is gun owner’s fault.  It is the AR-15’s fault. The NRA, which is made up of about 5 million people, most just like you or me, exists to protect the inalienable rights protected by the 2nd amendment, and to promote the safe, and responsible ownership of firearms.  It does not sell guns and it does not represent the firearms industry.  The NRA provides more instruction on the safe use of firearms to children and adults than any other group in the nation.  If you take a class on how to handle a firearm or for a concealed carry permit, odds are your instructor was trained by the NRA, at least in part.  The NRA was a strong supporter of the NICS system and continues to support improvements to it.  Not one of these mass shootings was committed by an NRA member, and one, the Texas church shooting, was stopped by an NRA member with an AR-15. But we’re labeled as murderers and terrorists somehow responsible for these incidents.  We’re told we don’t care about the lives of children. This is a narrow-minded, foolish approach and does nothing to solve the problem. The media is largely to blame for this, but too many just accept what MSNBC tells them and goes with it.

The vitriol toward the AR-15 is also ridiculous and based in ignorance.  The AR is not some super high-powered cannon and is not available to the public with the ability to fire automatically.  Your granddad’s deer rifle in 30-06 is more powerful.  It is not an assault rifle, as it lacks the ability to fire in a fully automatic mode. Sorry, but that’s part of the legal definition.  The modern AR is manufactured in such as way so it is not possible to make it fire automatically.  There are somewhere around 8 million AR’s in private ownership right now and they are almost never used in the commission of crimes.  More people are killed every year with fists than with every type of rifle combined.  ARs are excellent home defense weapons with the right ammunition, they are easy to shoot, and have low recoil, making them an excellent option for shooters of smaller stature.  They make excellent hunting weapons, again with the proper ammunition.  But the left and their media wonks have told the same lies over and over and over and the sheep believe them.  I’ve had people lecture me about the evils of the AR who I am reasonably certain have never seen one in person much less fired one.  But they know all about it because of what HuffPo or CNN said about them.  It is amazing how stupid smart people can be when their emotions get in the way.

Friends, no one wants this to stop more than me.  My wife teaches high school and my daughter is a student at the same school. Their safety means more to me than anything, so I take this subject very seriously.  This is a massively complicated issue and I don’t know the answers.  I do know the one thing which could be done today is for the Feds to demand every state to provide 100 percent of their convictions to the NICS so the background check system will work as designed.  It is unimaginable to me this isnt’ done already, but 38 states provide less than 80 percent of their convictions to the system.  These are people who have had due process and have either been convicted of a crime or adjudicated as mentally unfit.  There is no excuse for a state to not provide this information.  It needs to change right now.

At the moment, there are few strong ideas being discussed.  Allowing teachers who volunteer to do so and undergo additional training to carry firearms at schools has merit, but also raises concerns. I think providing armed security in the form of off duty police, hired security guards, or vetted volunteers from the community is a no-brainer.  We have armed guards in our banks but not our schools? I don’t want my wife and daughter to feel like they’re prisoners, but they’d get used to the presence of these folks soon enough.

Other ideas currently being discussed are designed to further the agenda, not solve the problem. The left is talking about age limits, adding the no-fly list to the NICS, banning bump stocks, and even a full-fledged ban on all semi-automatic weapons.  These things will not help.  They’ll punish law-abiding citizens and have zero effect on crime, but that doesn’t matter to the anti-gun people. The part I find most disturbing is the waste of time and intellectual energy. Instead of fighting these battles over and over again, why can’t we get past it and talk about the real issues?  How do we deal with the litany of societal ills which have brought us to this point? I don’t know, but I know banning ARs and attacking the NRA isn’t going to get it done.