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Lessons not learned.

March 20, 2018

Various news outlets, including the Palm Beach Post and Sun Sentinel  are reporting that the 17-year-old brother of the Parkland school shooter apparently simply walked through an unmonitored and unlocked gate at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to “visit” the scene of the shooting. He reportedly did not exhibit any threatening behavior.

Bear in mind that Zachary Cruz has already been the subject of mental health welfare checks for exhibiting erratic behavior, especially since the shooting.

He was arrested for trespassing, but once again an adult, Broward County school superintendent Robert Runcie,  chose to make light of the incident. He noted that the incident did not involve a breach of security, and the brother simply walked onto the campus through an unlocked gate. .

Twitter exploded with variations of “WTF is going on with that” comments.

What, indeed?

Perhaps most disturbing is that various tweets also tried to make excuses for the young man.

Schools all over the U.S. are grappling with how to “harden” their campuses, but of all of them, Stoneman Douglas should have the most invested in securing their grounds.

In view of recently released information that the shooter was referred to law enforcement as a possible “Baker Act” candidate, which would have allowed him to be placed involuntarily into a mental health facility, you have to wonder whether the brother (sometimes referred to as a half-brother) should at least be more closely monitored.

Not that the Baker Act confers any real protection.  Wikipedia lists a synopsis of the Baker Act criteria as follows:

Reason to believe that the person has a mental illness; refusal of voluntary examination; the person is unable to determine whether examination is necessary. Criteria are not met simply because a person has mental illness, appears to have mental problems, takes psychiatric medication, or has an emotional outburst. Criteria are not met simply because a person refuses voluntary examination. Criteria are not met if there are family members or friends that will help prevent any potential and present threat of substantial harm.

To further clarify this point of substantial likelihood, there must be evidence of recent behavior to justify the substantial likelihood of serious bodily harm in the near future. Moments in the past, when an individual may have considered harming themselves or another, do not qualify the individual as meeting the criteria. (“Near” means close, short, or draws near.)[5]” (Emphasis added.)

If you read this the way we do, then the person’s past history has no bearing whatsoever when applying the standard of probable cause to attaining a warrant for involuntary 72-hour evaluation.

Would you want to rely on the Baker Act to prevent anything?

To be fair, Governor Rick Scott did sign a type of red flag legislation into law in early March, which permits temporary gun confiscation if a person is held or referred for evaluation. It’s unclear whether in practice that will work in tandem with the Baker Act or if it can be applied independently from it.

In the meantime however, the anti-gun lobby is having a field day making money and harvesting political hay from the Florida tragedy  using their standard crowd manipulation and propaganda tactics.

It has been difficult ever since the mental health facilities were emptied during the mid 1950’s to get a person placed under an involuntary hold for mental health evaluation.

Even when you do get some sort of action, the evaluations are usually ineffective as deterrents except in the case of someone who is quite literally seeing snakes and frothing at the mouth during the evaluation.

None of that past history matters if the “adults” in charge of school safety can’t even spend under $20 for a heavy duty padlock and then actually lock it,  until better security measures can be installed.

Maybe teachers are just slow learners so here is an addendum to the curriculum. Maybe we could put it on flash cards.

People, not objects, kill people. Control the people and you’ll control the problem.

From → op-ed

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