Tuesday, March 6, 2018

American schools have become combat zones

“I’ve had to make statements like this too many times”. President Barack Obama made this statement after the merciless murders of nine African American members of the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina, June 17, 2015. By this time Obama and Americans had witnessed many mass shootings, resulting in deaths and injuries. Obama did not let himself or Americans evolve into bitter cynics, becoming immune to catastrophic acts of murder. He looked forward, believing that people will avail themselves to their better  nature.
Antoinette Tuff; Michael Hill, 22
Antoinette Tuff, a bookkeeper at Atlanta, Georgia’s Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy, averted a possible massacre August 20, 2013. Michael Hill, a 20-year-old White male, dawning a black outfit, accessorized with an AK-47, broke into the school ready to perpetuate vast acts of terror, mayhem and murder. 

Tuff, mother of a 22-year-old partially blind son, and a woman of faith, has a soft edge. But she was “tuff” August 20 in her determination to saves lives. Her better nature and faith in this troubled would be killer guided her words and actions. Without realizing it Tuff summoned her motherly instincts. Tuff took a big chance on calling out the better side of Hill. He could have quickly flipped the script. She can be heard on the 911 call telling Michael Hill, a deadly weapon still in his hand, “It’s going to all right sweetie. I just want you to know that I love you . . . Okay”? 

No one at the Academy died that day thanks to the cool headed African American mother. Tuff  calmed the young man, verbally disarming his deadly intent. Hill was arrested without incident. I do not know Antoinette Tuff, but I wager she did not go to work that morning thinking she was going to be a hero. On the other hand, Michael Hill woke up knowing that he was going to commit a horrible crime in a matter of minutes when he reached his destiny. The biggest surprise for Tuff was she did not know that President Barack Obama was going to call to compliment her bravery. This time appealing to a potential killer's better nature worked. But that is not always the case.
Brenda Spencer, 16

Historically, young White males have been profiled as school shooters. Out of curiosity I researched the gender of past school shooters. I learned there was a 16-year-old shooter named Brenda Spencer of San Diego, California. Spencer, a high school junior, did like Mondays. She “livened up” one Monday by shooting at students lingering in the parking lot of Grover Cleveland Elementary, January 29, 1979. They were waiting to be let inside the school. Spencer lived across the street from the school. The weapon she used was a semi-automatic .22 caliber rifle with a scope, a Christmas present from her father. That January morning Spencer had 500 rounds of ammunition. 

A child of divorced parents, Spencer lived with her father. On the day of the shootings she told him that she was sick, an excuse to skip school.

Spencer lived across the street from the school. Standing at her gate Spencer fired 30 rounds of bullets from her rifle, taking the lives of the school’s principal and custodian; wounding a police officer and eight children. Spencer had bragged to classmates a week earlier that she was going to “do something big to get on TV”.

During a telephone interview with a San Diego Tribune reporter, Spencer said after the first round of shootings: “I have to go now. I shot a pig, I think, and I want to shoot more”. Her deadly assault  lasted 15 minutes. After a police officer and security guard parked a garbage truck in front of her house, blocking her view, it took a SWAT team seven hours to coax the teenager to surrender. Brenda Spencer was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Her first hearing was in 2009. She was denied parole. She will have another hearing in 2019. (Timeline, March 14, 2017)

Dylann Roof, 22

When Dylann Roof, a 22-year-old White male, committed his murderous act he was a follower of the KKK. He admitted that he wanted to start a race war between Blacks and Whites. His targets and location were planned in advance. He purchased ammunition, and did some target practice. He chose Emmanuel for its location (downtown) and because it was the oldest Black church in South Carolina. The massacre would attract worldwide attention.

On June 17, 2015 several church members were partaking in a Bible study. They welcomed Dylann Roof, a stranger, with open arms. After sitting with the members for 40 minutes he pulled out a .45 caliber Glock. He fired 75 bullets, shooting the victims repeatedly, reloading the gun seven times. Roof shot down the parishioners like they were dangerous criminals hiding out in a community church. He believed that Black men were raping White women, and Black people were taking over the world. 

President Obama delivers a stirring eulogy and message
Two women survived. Roof told Polly Sheppard to tell what she had witnessed. He wanted his evilness to be recorded for the world to hear. Roof was arrested the next day without incident. In fact, the arresting officer bought him a hamburger because he was hungry. Dylann Roof is sitting on death row, awaiting to die for the lives he took.

June 29 President Obama delivered a heart-tugging eulogy for Emanuel’s pastor Clementa Pickney,  also a state senator. Although this was not a school shooting, the impact of the massacre was tear-jerking dramatic. President Obama, employing the cadence of a seasoned preacher, brought home the tragedy in an unexpected way. He sang a short version of “Amazing Grace”, and called out the names of the victims.

President Obama is overcome with emotions
President Obama’s message, after a tragedy, was never one of hate and division. He made a speech January 5, 2016, remembering the day 20 children and six adults killed at Sandy Hook. The massacre was still fresh on his mind. That was the first time Americans and the world had seen President Obama react emotionally in public. “Every time I think about those kids, I get mad”, he said. He wiped away tears when he talked the senseless massacre. He reminded everyone that gun violence happened every day on the streets of Chicago.

On the day of confessed love, roses, chocolates and Valentine cards--February 14, 2018—a deadly ambush occurred in America that left lifeless and wounded bodies in the hallways and classrooms of another American school. Nikolas Cruz, 19, erased the lives of 17 students and faculty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where he was a former student.

Mitchell Johnson, 13; Andrew Golden, 11
Nikolas Cruz, 19
In addition to the deceased, 14 other students and faculty were injured enough to be hospitalized. It took Cruz less than 10 minutes to carry out the murders. His anger demanded that he act; that he commit wholesale slaughter to satisfy its aggression. Cruz was methodical as he fired bullets at fleeing victims, all of whom were caught off guard. His carefully plotted plan turned the victims into easy targets. Cruz triggered the school’s fire alarm, and as students scrambled out of classrooms he used the hallways for his personal shooting range.
In a small community in Jonesboro, Arkansas two boys Mitchell Johnson, 13 and  Andrew Golden, 11, both students at Westside Middle School, planned and executed a mass shooting at their school. A March 18, 1998 issue of the Los Angeles Times reported: “The boys lured their classmates to the parking lot with a false fire alarm, then wielded stolen weapons, and for five minutes rained bullets upon the trapped teachers and students".

At the funeral of a fallen teacher her pastor sent a message of encouragement to surviving teachers: “Do your job. Be the teacher you are to be. There is going to be pain and there is going to be struggle. But you will honor the memory of Shannon Wright if you enter that classroom Monday, carrying with you a reaffirmation passion to teach”. Wright was shielding children from gun fire when she met her death at the hands of  two murderous children.

Had Barack Obama been president in 2018 guns and ammunition sales would have immediately swelled, continuing to balloon for weeks, if not months. He was good for business. The NRA would have repeated its rallying hoorah meme: "Obama is trying to take away our Second Amendment rights to own guns to protect our families. He wants to take our guns." Throwing this panic bomb to the gullible led to panic buying.

Parents of Sandy Hook victims sued Remington but they lost the lawsuit. The shooter used a Bushmaster to mowed down a combined 26 children and staff.  After the lawsuit Remington Outdoors Corp filed a prepackaged reorganization plan with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court pf Delaware under the Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code. Reportedly, gun sales have gone down since Trump was elected president.

“Last year marked a record year for gun sales. The surge was driven by fears that then President Obama and candidate Hillary Clinton would implement gun controls amid a series of deadly mass shootings. Sales dropped industry-wide after the unexpected victory of Donald Trump, a Republican endorsed by the National Rifle Association.

"The firearms industry is still suffering from continued malaise in retail sell-through due to the Trump slump," said Rommel Dionisio, a gun industry analyst for Aegis Capital Corp. He said manufacturers and retailers are still dealing with an inventory backlog, because they stocked up prior to the election expecting stronger sales”. (CNN Money 2017)

After each public school massacre Republicans and red state Democrats zippered their mouths and sat on their brains; but their hands were open to receive hefty donations from the NRA and special interest groups. Their inaction suggested, and still suggests today that they are not ready to slap the hands that feeds their campaigns. Their political careers are more important than saving the lives of teenagers and children. 

Since 1999 American schools have been elevated to combat zones, replete with “just in case of a shooting” drills as revealed February 14 by students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

There are no laws, policies or legislation to stop an individual or individuals bent on effectuating a fatal bloodbath in their homes or in public places. These troubled adults and teenagers will get the weapons they need to wreak havoc and grief. Teenagers have access to guns and ammunition in their parents’ homes. In Florida an 18 year old can legally purchase an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle, but cannot frequent a bar, purchase alcohol or hand guns. The FBI received a number of warning calls about Cruz. Local police had calls to his mother’s home more than30 times; students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas complained about Cruz and the potential danger he presented.

President Obama was tireless in his effort to curb gun violence. He was especially angered when the wanton massacres involved children. He and First Lady Michelle Obama are the parents of two  daughters still in school. But not enough Washington politicians shared Obama’s heartache, anger and concern. The NRA was, and remains their boss.

On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza, 20, killed his mother in their home before heading to Sandy
Adam Lanza in 2005
Hook Elementary. The school’s security system had been recently upgraded. Doors were locked by 9:30 a.m. after all staff and students were inside the building. Visitors were required to show a picture ID that was viewed via a monitor in the principal's office. Lanza shot out a glass panel to grain entrance into the school. He had a Bushmaster XM15-E2S, a variant of the AR-15, and two hand guns. It was 9:35 a.m.  Lanza massacred 20 children and six educators. After the bloody slaughter Lanza committed suicide, acting as his own judge, jury and executioner. All the guns he had with him was purchased by his mother.
Grieving parents assumed that children getting bullet butchered in classrooms would soften the hearts of the hardest politician. They went to Capitol Hill to ask politicians to author sensible gun legislation that included stricter background checks. None of them demanded that gun owners relinquish their guns, or their right to buy guns. Washington politicians played their roles to the hilt. TV cameras rolled, recording their hypocrisy and pretentiousness. The press savvy politicians looked grieving parents in their eyes, even held their hands, and promised they would do whatever they could. The promises were shelved soon as the parents left the offices.

Eric Harris, 18; Dylan Klebol, 17
There have been other school shootings this year that did not attract media attention because they were not on the scale of wholesale slaughter. The Parkland, Florida shooting has been compared to the Columbine High School massacre that occurred April 20, 1999. The teenage shooters, Eric Harris, 18 and Dylan Klebold, 17, were seniors at the school. They killed 15 students, teachers and administrators, injuring 24, three of whom injured themselves when they climbed out windows to escape the carnage. The boys committed suicide amid a shootout with police. It was not their intention to be taken alive.  

Conspirators of the worst kind said the 2012 shooting murders at Sandy Hook was a hoax perpetrated by Democrats. They said the massacre was staged by child actors. Alex Jones, maddog host of Infowars, spearheaded the rumor. Like s snowball rolling downhill the Republican mouth piece gathered human moss. Conspiracy-minded rectum dwellers maliciously attacked Sandy Hook parents online, offline. They suggested the parents had their own children killed; or sold them to sex traffickers; or they had no children.

The same rectum dwellers have begun attacking surviving Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students, staff and parents. Outspoken students, all demanding that politicians make changes to gun laws are labeled “crisis actors.” The articulate, politically astute students are not interested in yapping politicians, shade throwing and front row critics. They want action, not bullshit. These grew up in an age of school shootings. They do not want to see more of this wanton carnage.

President Obama did not stop trying to work with Republicans and Democrats to create sensible gun control, and tougher background checks. As usual, he was rebuffed by both parties. He vowed to continue his fight for changes, which he did until he left office. The President supported the 2013 Manchin-Toomer bill aimed at expanding background checks for those who purchase guns. The bill did not survive the Senate.

“President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that the White House would submit new gun control proposals to Congress next month and pledged to use all the powers of this office to identify and promote new policies to address the scourge of gun violence. Obama tapped Vice President Joe Biden to head up a task force of cabinet members of Congress and outside organizations, which will comb through existing gun control proposals, devise news ones and submit a specific set of proposals to Congress in January”. (Time, 12/19/2012)

According to a January 4, 2016 White House press release President Obama “revealed a plan to address gun violence. The initiative consists of 23 executive orders and three presidential memoranda, most of which will require Congressional approval. Many parts of the plan may have significant effects on states”.

Keep guns out of the wrong hands through background checks (excerpt)

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is making clear that it doesn’t matter where you conduct your business—from a store, at gun shows, or over the Internet: If you’re in the business of selling firearms, you must get a license and conduct background checks.

ATF is finalizing a rule to require background checks for people trying to buy some of the most dangerous weapons and other items through a trust, corporation, or other legal entity. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch has sent a letter to States highlighting the importance of receiving complete criminal history records and criminal dispositions, information on persons disqualified because of a mental illness, and qualifying crimes of domestic violence.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is overhauling the background check system to make it more effective and efficient. The envisioned improvements include processing background checks 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and improving notification of local authorities when certain prohibited persons unlawfully attempt to buy a gun. The FBI will hire more than 230 additional examiners and other staff to help process these background checks.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is overhauling the background check system to make it more effective and efficient. The envisioned improvements include processing background checks 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and improving notification of local authorities when certain prohibited persons unlawfully attempt to buy a gun. The FBI will hire more than 230 additional examiners and other staff to help process these background checks.

Other proposals included: Make our communities safer from gun violence; Increase mental health treatment and reporting to the background check system; Shape the future of gun safety technology.

“The Administration is proposing a new $500 million investment to increase access to mental health care. The Social Security Administration has indicated that it will began the rule making process to include information in the background check system about beneficiaries who are prohibited from processing a firearm for mental health reasons.

“The Department of Health and Human Services is finalizing a rule to remove unnecessary legal barriers preventing states from reporting relevant information about people prohibited from processing a gun for specific mental health issues”.
When Donald Trump won the presidency he immediately uprooted executive orders initiated and signed by President Obama. One of executive order related to Obama’s goal to curb gun violence.

“President Donald Trump quietly signed a bill into law Tuesday rolling back an Obama-era regulation that made it harder for people with mental illnesses to purchase a gun. The rule, which was finalized in December, added people receiving Social Security checks for mental illnesses and people deemed unfit to handle their own financial affairs to the national background check database. Had the rule fully taken effect, the Obama administration predicted it would have added about 75,000 names to that database.

“President Barack Obama recommended the now-nullified regulation in a 2013 memo following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which left 20 first graders and six others dead. The measure sought to block some people with severe mental health problems from buying guns”. (NBC News, 2/28/2017)

Republicans in both Houses—14 of whom vowed January 20, 2009 they would never deliver President Obama a victory--signed onto negating all proposed legislation. They kept the promise for eight years. The NRA was happy to see that its multi-million dollar investments in Trump, the Senate and Congress paid off. Oddly, Trump did not sign the Obama-era executive order with his usual made for TV flair. He signed it behind closed doors.

Despite the massive shootings under his watch Trump has not addressed sensible gun control, tougher background checks, appropriate age to buy guns, or how to curtail gun violence. Hosting a meeting at the White House on February 28, 2018 Trump called together Democrats and Republicans to brainstorm, and to share solutions they have regarding school and other kinds of gun violence.

Trump was not on the same page as the bipartisan group 25-30. He declared that anyone deemed mentally ill should have their guns taken from them by police without question. He said due process comes in second. Trump was saying to these politicians--many of whom are attorneys--that police have the right to overlook the Constitution. He talked more about mental illness than sensible gun control and background checks. He implied that no president before him had made an effort to curb gun violence. It is no secret that he was talking about President Obama.

Had Trump’s staff prepared him for the meeting he would have been informed about President Obama’s proposals, and red flag laws first implemented in California. Four other states adopted the law: Washington, Oregon, Indiana and Connecticut. Eighteen more states are thinking of jumping aboard. There are lawful rules that states have to follow before confiscating an individual’s weapons due to mental illness.

“In 2014, California became the first state to let family members ask a judge to remove firearms from a relative who appears to pose a threat. Its legislature took action after a mentally ill man, Elliot Rodger, killed six students and wounded 13 others near the University of California, Santa Barbara, before killing himself.

“California's law also empowers police to petition for the protective orders, which can require authorities to remove firearms for up to one year. Connecticut, Indiana, Oregon and Washington also have some version of a red flag law”. (ABC News, 21/2018)

Republicans Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan said there will be no debates about gun control; no up and down voting. Nothing. Nothing. Noting. Promises that Donald Trump made at the meeting were deleted from his mind after he invited a few NRA members to the White House the next day. He walked back some of the things he said in the meeting. In the meeting he said he was going to write an executive order regarding bump stocks.; therefore, they should not concern themselves with that issue.  Republicans and Democrats are left empty handed, wondering what happened.

President Donald Trump
Donald Trump wants teachers to be armed when they enter classrooms. He called it “hardening schools”. No more of those “gun free zones.” He thinks that in addition to teaching, being  disciplinarians, counselors,  controlling classrooms, and unruly students--teachers should be able to stop shooters before they kill students and faculty. He has not thought of the consequences, or the added danger that can occur.

When cops enter a school where there is frantic movement and chaos, and they see individuals with guns, they won’t know who the bad guy is; who the good guy is. Police won’t have time to pick and choose who to take out. A Marjory Stoneman student said on February 14 he was so scared he attempted to run down a flight of stairs to escape danger. He was stopped on the stairs by a SWAT team. He said all five pointed their weapons at him. He was wearing a sweater the same color as Cruz. Police said he fit the description of the shooter. The student said had he made a move they would have shot him. To escape undetected Cruz abandoned his weapons, blended with the students, and walked out of the building. He was caught hours later.

Trump said he has no doubt he would have gone into the building to take out the shooter. No weapon verses a semi-automatic weapon? Trump convinced himself that he would come out the winner.

“I really believe I’d run in there even if I didn’t have a weapon. And I think most of the people in this room would have done that too”. Trump was holding as meeting at the White House with 39 governors when he made this statement. He chided the deputy sheriffs at the scene for not entering the building to save lives.

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