I’ve recently noticed a pattern in how the population at large reacts to high profile tragedies. Whether it’s an environmental disaster, a national disaster, or a terrorist event; the response is all too often to assign blame to individuals or specific groups of people even when the cause is clearly the failure of our government and the institutions we entrust with our safety.
There is no better example than the response to the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that took place earlier this month where 17 people were murdered in cold blood. But first, let’s go all the way back to the Pulse Nightclub shooting from June of 2016.
We recently learned that the father of Omar Mateen, the Pulse Nightclub Shooter who killed 49 people in June of 2016, was an FBI informant. This could very well explain why after two separate terror assessments of Omar Mateen in 2013 and 2014 because of tips about him discussing terrorist connections and having a relationship with a suicide bomber, the FBI closed their investigation.
Not only was the case closed but when questioned about their handling of the investigation, FBI Director James Comey said the following:
“So far, the honest answer is I don’t think so. I don’t see anything in reviewing our work that our agents should have done differently. But we’ll look at it in an open and honest way”
I guess including the fact that the terrorist’s father was an FBI informant from 2005 up until the day of the shooting wasn’t part of their “open and honest” approach.
This revelation comes on the heels of the FBI failing to follow protocol (in their own words) and not act on two separate credible tips about the Parkland Shooter, Nicholas Cruz, who killed 17 students earlier this month. In September of 2017, the FBI was tipped off about someone with the handle “Nikolas Cruz” leaving a comment on YouTube that said “I’m going to be a professional school shooter”.
On January 5th of this year, someone close to Cruz contacted the FBI to express concerns about his “gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as potential of him conducting a school shooting”. All the while, Cruz had two public Instagram accounts both with his name, “cruz_nikolas” and “nikolascruzmakarov”, that included pictures of him with multiple guns and dead animals.
The FBI didn’t just drop the ball, they spiked it. But they weren’t the only government institution who failed those students, the Broward County Sheriff’s department knew Cruz was a threat. They had been called to his home on at least 39 separate occasions over the previous years regarding everything from cutting himself to threatening physical violence.
And even worse, at the time of the shooting the Broward County Sheriff’s deputy charged with the safety of the students failed to engage the shooter and remained outside the school in a defensive position for over four minutes while Cruz continued to murder his classmates.
Both of these high profile, high casualty mass shootings in Florida were the result of abject, unacceptable failure by the FBI and law enforcement community. But you wouldn’t know that based on the current solutions being put forward.
Instead, prominent student voices are calling the NRA and their five million members “child murderers.” Hundreds of thousands of people are organizing protests in order to strip law-abiding citizens of their ability to protect their lives and property. And many of our politicians are advocating we give more authority and responsibility to the very institutions that failed us.