School shootings remedy: competition

Broward County Deputy Scot Peterson, the Stoneman Douglas High School school resource officer (SRO), and several other sheriff’s deputies waited outside the school in Parkland, Florida for four of the six minutes of active shooting on Feb. 14, guns drawn but behind cover. This was a common police policy, before the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, of “setting up a perimeter” and waiting until it was safe to go into the building. The police took so much heat for Columbine that the policy was officially changed to that of approach and engage the shooter. Besieged Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel insists that is the policy, and he is “heartbroken” that Peterson and others did not enter the building. He also insists he has done an “amazing” job as sheriff.

Before the shooting incident, SRO Peterson had lobbied Broward County school officials to continue a program that allowed cops to live in mobile homes on school property, saying it would help protect the students. He resigned after his handling of the shooting became public, thereby saving his pension. But we have to protect against the temptation to argue another version of the bad apple theory for police and FBI incompetence. The problem is systemic, and that is how the discussion should be framed.

Do the police have a positive duty to protect us, to keep us safe? You might be surprised to learn that the answer is no! The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the police have no such positive duty to protect any individual or group. Legally, citizens cannot demand the police keep us safe.

This is demonstrated in the rare instances when a police shooting of a citizen is prosecuted as unjustified. The standard officer defense is that if a policeman merely fears for his life, he is justified in using deadly force. American juries will nearly always accept this defense and acquit.

The police therefore have a nearly unlimited license to kill citizens, but no duty to protect them. This lack of accountability is built into the monopoly nature of law enforcement. Like all monopoly providers, law enforcement produces a service that is inefficient and overpriced.

If the police have no real obligation to protect us, who does? This is where the Second Amendment comes into play. Since Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the majority opinion in D.C. vs. Heller, we know we have the individual right to keep in our homes and bear on our persons weapons that are in common use to defend ourselves. Semiautomatic rifles, pistols and shotguns are among these weapons.

School resource officers in the schools are not the answer. All too often, they establish a “school to prison” pipeline. Discipline infractions that used to result in being sent home with a note to your parents are now treated as criminal, and children are being handcuffed and perp-walked to jail.

No one wants to discuss it, but every five days a police officer is accused of a crime of sexual violence. These cops prey on the most vulnerable women and girls, including students. Because of the monopoly status of the police and their unions, the controls for weeding out the bad apples and preventing them from getting another police job are too often non-existent.

President Trump is correct when he says that most criminals are cowards. When was the last time, except in a Terminator movie, you saw a gunman attack a police station? The Fort Hood shooting revealed that even military bases can be gun-free zones. Ten states allow school employees to bring guns to school.

Nevada is one of 16 states that bans concealed carry on college campuses. Nevada also does not permit concealed carry at elementary, middle or high school. Will the 2019 Legislature change that?