Want to stop school shootings? Start by talking to a teacher.

Want to stop school shootings? Start by talking to a teacher.

By Matt Rooney


Well, we’ve witnessed yet another gut-churning school shooting, Save Jerseyans, on Valentine’s Day no less, which this time has claimed the lives of at least 17 souls in the Southern Florida community of Parkland.

That means it’s also time for yet another gut-churning gun control debate.

The Left will lazily point the (digital) table and demand more gun regulations (despite the fact that these heinous acts of terror universally occur in gun free zones).

My fellow conservatives will point to statistics, and make liberty-oriented arguments, but any fool knows that reason only gets you so far when people are hurting and angry.

I tried something a little different after yesterday’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School killings; rather than default to my own logic, I spoke to some teachers whom I know very well, education professionals who’ve been working with adolescent children for, cumulatively, many decades. And do you know what?

Not a single one of them mentioned “gun control.”

They did, however, say something eerily similar to what this Parkland student told the media on Wednesday:

“Honestly, all people were kind of saying it’d be him. Stuff like that. We actually [..] all kids threw jokes around like that. Saying that he’d be the one to shoot up the school. But, it turns out, everyone predicted it. That’s crazy.”

Murdering your classmates and teachers in cold blood is crazy. The fact that this particular and fellow students could predict who would shoot up their school is much less crazy. In fact, it’s extremely logical.

My teacher sources/references/advisers know which kids in their respective schools are heading in a dangerous direction. They spend hours with these kids every day. They know who is aberrant and who’s developing just a little bit differently. They know whose parents are engaged and whose are reliably out-to-lunch. Again… so do the other kids.

“All he would talk about is guns, knives and hunting,” said one young man about the suspected Parkland shooter, a former classmate, when prompted by the Miami Herald. “I can’t say I was shocked. From past experiences, he seemed like the kind of kid who would do something like this.”

The question then becomes: why aren’t we doing something about these human time bombs before they blow up in our faces?

The global answer, I think, is that our society loathes the idea of giving up on a kid. I get it. I don’t like it, either.

Proximately? The Leftists who run our public school system take that “never give up” inclination to an unhealthy and I would argue INSANE extreme, making it impossible for teachers to run their own classrooms and assert themselves when a threat needs to be neutralized. Deinstitutionalisation – which liberals championed in the 70s and 80s – made neutralization of these problems even more impossible. 

Another part of that aforementioned Miami Herald story jumped out at me. “We received no warnings,” Superintendent Robert Runcie told reporters. “Potentially there could have been signs out there. But we didn’t have any warning or phone calls or threats that were made.” Oh really? That’s an incredible statement because the same article cites an alleged incident wherein the suspect was previously suspended from Stoneman Douglas High for fighting AND bringing bullets to school in his backpack (that’s what a former classmate told reporters). Cruz was ultimately expelled from Stoneman Douglas for “disciplinary reasons.” No one has elaborated on those “reasons” as of yet but we can probably make some educated guesses based upon what we do know… and the details of this kid’s public pronouncements on social media.

Sorry, Mr. Superintendent, but it looks like the writing was on the wall!

Without exception, these school shooters are notorious lost causes. Their families failed them. EVERYONE around them knows what’s going to happen, or at least very likely to happen. In this case, the shooter’s story sounds familiar including a very strange home life. Are we really going to blame guns for our communities’ abrogation of responsibility to do something about killer kids? Because it’s easy? Grief always takes the easy road, and there are plenty of self-interested politicians hanging around and more than willing to take advantage of it. But that’s hardly an acceptable response if we’re actually serious about stopping these school shootings.

Let’s consider another option for a change: we need to commit these kids.

Before you jump down my throat, here’s an uncontroversial newsflash: we’ve got a national mental health crisis on our hands which consists of legions of children and young adults lacking religion, parents, community anchors, or any of the other things which could ordinarily help compensate for a broken or absent internal moral compass. These kids are medicated, relegated, and reshuffled in the deck; sometimes they’re expelled, like the young man at issue in the Parkland shooting, but kicking a likely killer to the curb – and leaving him there to brood – seems like an objectively risky move.

Someone who repeatedly causes trouble in school AND starts bringing weapons into the building probably needs to be committed, folks, and we need to get the lawyers and the liberal bureaucrats out of the classrooms so that it’s possible.

My teacher friends could tell you TONS of disturbing stories about attempts to confront dangerous students; they were estopped by administrators who invariably take the parents’ side as a matter of policy. Shitty parenting isn’t something that we can fix with a public policy debate; we can change the rules so that our teachers have a voice and an option when their children are threatened.

Here in New Jersey? Our legislators could start to tackle the problem by demanding a comprehensive review of disciplinary data from our public schools. How are similarly-situated students being addressed? Differently than the Parkland student? Or similarly, and recklessly? They could also pass legislation which gives schools greater legal leeway to address disciplinary situations without fear of legal retaliation. Teachers — who spend more time with these kids than most of their parents — should drive the conversation, not lawyers/study teams/remote therapists, etc.

I’m told the removal process for a trouble student currently takes years. Districts spend big money to send kids to secondary facilities; imprecise IEPs supplant common sense. If anything, my teacher friends insist? It’s amazing that MORE shootings don’t happen on an even more regular basis. 

Look: I readily admit that I don’t have all of the answers. No one does. But I do know NO ONE can credibly claim that new gun restrictions could’ve prevented the Parkland shooter from finding tools of destruction. These young killers are, unfortunately, as intelligent as they are crazy. What we do know: this kid couldn’t have pulled off a massacre if he had been placed in a padded room until such time that we could figure out what, if anything, could have been done to correct his deadly trajectory.