Are Schools Less Important Than Sports Events and Concerts?

Baseball Stadium
Who do we value more? The millionaire athlete who's jersey we own - OR our own children?

This is the second of a two-part series by former Congressman Barr on issues relating to Parkland, Florida, and other recent mass shootings.

We now know more about the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, in which 17 high school students and employees were murdered by a former student. We know that the local police, led by the questionable leadership of Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, utterly failed the citizens they were supposed to protect. We know that the same can be said for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which failed to investigate reports that the shooter was deeply disturbed. And, we know that gun control advocates still are trying to force the same, tried and failed “common sense” gun control proposals onto the American public.

All of this new (and unsurprising) information only reinforces the need which I outlined last week for a broader and deeper understanding of mass shootings that only President Donald Trump is in a position to deliver; in the form not of a Tweet, but of a presidential commission staffed with experts from a variety of fields. However, while Congress, and the president himself, should refrain from making any sweeping changes before such a commission releases its findings, thereby ensuring such changes are more than just knee-jerk reactions, there are a number of meaningful steps that can be taken immediately.

We go through such entry mechanisms at airports, sports events, concerts, and public buildings.  What does it say about our fiscal and social priorities as a country that we place more value on sporting events and music performances than on the safety of our children?

Secondly, Republicans should seriously consider raising the age of purchasing semi-automatic rifles built on the AR, AK, and similar platforms, to 21. Raising the age of purchasing any firearm to 21, like that proposed by nervous politicians such as Florida Governor Rick Scott is unnecessary and unproductive. However, there are clear differences in both the physical components and projectile characteristics of such rifles, that make them inherently more dangerous than bolt- or lever-action hunting rifles, or pump-action shotguns (all of which are appropriate for responsible young men and women between the ages of 18 and 21). Such characteristics make the AR-type platform far more like a semi-automatic handgun than traditional rifles or shotguns.

Thirdly, Republicans should look further into the current system of data-basing mental health issues, and provide additional funding to improve record keeping and national access, as a part of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). This should be approved unanimously, and with little debate.

Finally, Republicans should consider – carefully — a proposal proffered by National Review writer David French earlier this month, for a “Gun Violence Restraining Order.” In short, the GVRO gives law enforcement officials the legal teeth to confiscate firearms from those proven to be an immediate threat, but only if the procedures provide — in law — full due process to any individual sought to be restrained.

Although no law or regulation comes with an ironclad guarantee of stopping evil people from committing egregious acts, these are just a few steps Congress, as well as state and local governments, can begin immediately taking to reduce the risk of mass shootings, without emburdening Second Amendment rights lurking in the current proposals by Democrats and Nervous Nelly Republicans, like Gov. Scott.

Bob Barr is a former Congressman who represented the citizens of Georgia’s 7th Congressional District in the US House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. Bob heads Liberty Guard, a non-profit and non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting individual liberty.