Yesterday, Florida Governor Rick Scott announced sweeping and major policy in response to gun violence in our schools, specifically the killing of 17 students at Parkland High School in Broward County FL. Since those brutal killings, the debate has raged night and day about what to do. Not surprisingly, the liberals and gun grabbers want to take away the guns, but with no specific plan to do so. Conversely, conservatives do not want stricter gun laws, favoring instead suggestions like arming teachers and increasing security at the schools.
The center of Governor Scott’s proposals is on mental health issues as the driver of gun violence and subsequent policy changes. He is calling for what amounts to a massive increase in government agencies, bureaucracies and money for coordinated efforts between local school boards, county law enforcement, the DCF, mental health professionals and other state departments to create a massive date base of who should have guns and who should not. All worthy and noble ideas and worthy of discussion. Within Governor Scott’s statement announcing the plans that should give anyone pause: “No one with mental health issues should have access to guns”. In no particular order, are questions EVERYONE concerned with civil liberties and the 2nd amendment should be asking:
WHO defines what a mental health issue is? What about people being treated for depression, bipolar or other Mental health issues.. If they are in treatment, should they be denied their Second Amendment rights? WHO will make this determination? Will authorities be allowed into private practices to obtain confidential patient records? Will these same authorities then be allowed into these peoples homes to confiscate those guns?
Same questions for those dealing with addictions? Will the authorities be visiting various 12-step meetings and other programs, getting names and then visiting those homes to confiscate the guns?
Do these questions seem far-fetched, unrealistic? Maybe, but nonetheless questions that MUST be answered.
What about proposals that include some form of a Violent Threat Restraining order? Care MUST be taken that these types of orders not be abused by vengeful family members or others looking to get back at someone. Will there be a court or judge in each county who deals ONLY with these types of requests and closely monitors any time constraints put on these restraining orders? Remember, a restraining order is only as good as the paper it is written on.
Perhaps some less sweeping, practical recommendations should be considered. Such as: arming only teachers who WANT to be armed, whose identities would be know only to the school principal and possibly County law enforcement; securing multiple access doors during school hours, allowing only one access door during school hours that would be manned by a school resource officer; Getting RID of the Gun-Free Zone signs littering school properties. These signs are like ringing the dinner bell to a would-be shooter and the people inside are like sitting ducks. With some upgrades, perhaps placement of security cameras in certain areas of the schools.
We cannot be too careful or have too many questions when we are talking about denying a loosely defined and possibly large segment of the population their constitutional rights. We cannot let emotions, rhetoric or talking points dictate legislative or administrative policy. Precautions can be taken without eroding the constitutional rights of law abiding citizens. Remember, those who would be willing to give up some freedoms for a little more security will end up sacrificing both.