Fault for the terrible tragedy last year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has been placed on various entities by different observers. Some on the left—defying all logic—have even blamed you, me and other NRA members for the vicious attack.
A number of failures led to that murderer being able to enter the school unchallenged, spend many minutes shooting defenseless students and staff, then simply walk away.
Make no mistake, though: True blame lies with the crazed former student who attacked and killed 17 students and staff members last February in Parkland, Fla. However, plenty of information is now available showing that a number of failures led to that murderer being able to enter the school unchallenged, spend many minutes shooting defenseless students and staff, then simply walk away.
In fact, a recent report by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission confirmed that one of the more egregious errors was one we have all known about since shortly after the shooting. Broward County Deputy Scot Peterson, the school resource officer (SRO), refused to enter the building during the massacre. Instead he huddled outside while the perpetrator walked up and down the unguarded halls, killing student after student.
To many, Peterson’s actions reeked of cowardice. After all, since the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, law enforcement agencies of all kinds have been taught that the old method of locking down the scene and waiting for more help to come doesn’t apply anymore. That tactic simply costs too many lives, as proven again in Parkland.
Who Will Protect Students? Because of Peterson’s inaction, more than a dozen survivors of the attack filed a lawsuit in district court, claiming that county officials should have protected them.
The lawsuit claimed that Peterson’s “arbitrary and conscience-shocking actions and inactions directly and predictably caused children to die, get injured, and get traumatized.” It further claimed that the sheriff’s office and school officials “either have a policy that allows killers to walk through a school killing people without being stopped” or “have such inadequate training that the individuals tasked with carrying out the policies ... lack the basic fundamental understandings of what those policies are such that they are incapable of carrying them out.”
U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom ruled that sheriff’s deputies were not constitutionally obligated to protect the students, so were not liable for their trauma.
The lawsuit also focused on something else we all learned shortly after the shooting—the Broward County Sheriff’s Office was well aware of the potential danger the shooter posed, but for whatever reason failed to address that danger.
In mid-December, a federal judge in South Florida threw out the lawsuit. U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom ruled that sheriff’s deputies were not constitutionally obligated to protect the students, so were not liable for their trauma.
“The claim arises from the actions of [the shooter], a third party, and not a state actor,” Bloom, a Barack Obama appointee, stated in her ruling on the case. “Thus, the critical question the Court analyzes is whether defendants had a constitutional duty to protect plaintiffs from the actions of [the shooter].”
Who Will Protect You? Lest you think this discussion is anti-law enforcement, be assured that it is not. It’s important to understand that police officers have signed up to protect and serve American citizens, and they proudly do so every day throughout our country.
In fact, the vast majority of police officers are more than willing to be the first to charge into dangerous situations to protect innocent lives when the need arises. Sure, the job can be complicated and confusing—especially in volatile situations involving active shooters—but police regularly do their best to protect everyone they can. Most cops were just as outraged with Peterson’s actions as were the survivors of the shooting and their families.
Yet it’s important to note that this isn’t the first time a court has ruled police have no duty to protect us.
The court ruled against the plaintiffs based on, “the fundamental principle that a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any particular individual citizen.”
Most notable is the 1981 case Warren v. District of Columbia. On a March night in 1975, Carolyn Warren, Joan Taliaferro and Miriam Douglas were asleep in their Washington, D.C., rooming house, where Warren and Taliaferro shared a room on the third floor of the house, and Douglas shared a room on the second floor with her 4-year-old daughter. Early that morning, two men kicked in the door, entered Douglas’ room and began to sexually assault her.
Warren and Taliaferro heard her screams and telephoned the police, reporting that the house was being burglarized and requesting assistance. After the call, Warren and Taliaferro crawled through their window onto an adjoining roof and awaited help. According to court documents, the department dispatched cars, but officers left after knocking on the door and receiving no answer.
After crawling back into their room, Warren and Taliaferro heard Douglas’ continued screams. They again called police at 6:42 and told them the intruders had entered the home. This time, no officers were dispatched. Believing the police might have entered the house, Warren and Taliaferro called down to Douglas, which alerted the attackers that they were there. The intruders then sexually assaulted all three women for several more hours before finally ending the attack.
Ultimately, the court ruled against the plaintiffs based on, “the fundamental principle that a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any particular individual citizen.”
In truth, the ruling of “no duty” to protect makes sense. If such a duty did exist, all law enforcement agencies would be constantly bombarded with lawsuits, leaving little time to perform their everyday duties. Moreover, many states have specifically precluded such claims, barring lawsuits against state or local officials for failure to protect.
Gun-Banners Could Not Care Less About You As mentioned earlier, most police officers go the extra mile to protect their constituents. But as we all know, police can’t be everywhere at the same time. And when seconds count, it might be minutes before they arrive.
Those facts, plus court rulings that police have “no duty to protect,” make the constant push by anti-gun advocates for laws that would make armed self-defense more difficult even more perplexing. And make no mistake: They do so with regularity.
Do anti-gun zealots simply not care about your life or mine? That would certainly seem to be the case.
• When Moms Demand Action lobbies against national concealed-carry reciprocity, they are working to ensure you are defenseless outside your home state against armed attackers, who illegally carry their guns wherever they want.
When Everytown for Gun Safety members push for a federal ban on “high-capacity” magazines (standard capacity for many, many models of self-defense handguns), they show a disdain for your life and that of your loved ones.
• When the Brady Campaign fights against implementation of Stand Your Ground laws in your state, they are indicating that they don’t care if you are brutally murdered.
• When the gun-ban group Giffords pushes for firearm registration schemes that would eventually lead to confiscation, they show their contempt for you and your natural right of self-defense.
• When billionaire Michael Bloomberg spends millions of dollars to air television ads against pro-gun politicians, he takes the side of violent criminals, who prefer their victims to be unarmed and helpless.
• When U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., introduces legislation that would ban hundreds of firearms and magazines for law-abiding Americans, she shows that she would rather violent criminals be better armed than you.
• When Virginia’s new governor, Ralph Northam, introduces a sweeping anti-gun package ranging from outright gun bans, to magazine bans, to one-gun-a-month purchase laws, he tells gun owners in theOld Dominion that his political ambitions mean more than their safety.
• When the so-called “mainstream” media parrot lies about the number of school shootings to help push their anti-gun agenda, they show their agenda is more important than your safety and security.
• And when all of those groups and individuals actively fight against the Second Amendment while basking in the safety of their very own armed security forces, they form a call to action that law-abiding American gun owners simply cannot ignore.
What To Do? The plain fact is, the only person truly responsible for protecting you and your family is you. And the best way to even the odds between you and armed criminals is having a firearm and adequate training to use it safely and effectively.
With the Democrats recently taking control of the U.S. House of Representatives, anti-gunners have quickly ratcheted up their agenda, pushing all manners of restrictive proposals. And mid-term election victories by gun-ban proponents in a handful of states have emboldened lawmakers there to push further anti-gun legislation at the state level.
Of course, ignoring these blatantly unconstitutional proposals is simply not an option. There are many actions we all can take to get involved in this fight, and we should do so immediately.
First, visit the NRA Institute for Legislative Action’s (NRA-ILA) web page and sign up for updates that will keep you apprised of pending firearm legislation, both in your state and at the federal level. Each time you learn of pending legislation, whether federal or state, call or email your representative or senator and let your voice be heard. Calls and emails make a difference, and you can be sure those on the other side of the issue are speaking out.
Next, renew or upgrade your NRA membership—even consider signing up for a Life membership. There is power in numbers, and millions of law-abiding gun owners banding together for freedom send a strong message.
Finally, sign up at least one new NRA member to further boost our ability to continue winning this battle for freedom’s future. It’s not hard to do or expensive, and will pay dividends moving forward.
If we don’t all work together now to protect our right to arms—and our right to self-defense—those rights will continue to be whittled away a little at a time. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, we must not let that happen on our watch.
Mark Chesnut has been the editor of America’s 1st Freedom magazine for nearly 19 years and is an avid hunter, shooter and political observer.