By Robert A. Vella
Yesterday at a Parkland, Florida high school, a young white nationalist named Nikolas Cruz went on a shooting spree killing 17 students and faculty and injuring many more. It was the 18th mass shooting at an American school this year, and it’s not even March yet. Apparently, the FBI was warned about this suspect last September and didn’t take any preemptive action.
Despite other countries which have taken successful measures to reduce or eliminate such gun-related massacres, the U.S. stubbornly refuses to do so. The reason is clear. The Republican Party – which holds most of the political power in America – is dominated by a far-right ideology mixing anti-government fervor, religious fanaticism, white nationalism, and corporatist economic interests. This composite ideology, known euphemistically as conservatism, is vehemently opposed to any kind of gun control no matter how sensible such policies might be.
Consequently, America is increasingly being perceived – both inside and outside the country – as a nation which is losing its collective sanity. Although this perception began to coalesce in the minds of rational people years before the election of President Trump, his obvious megalomania has certainly solidified that sentiment.
One wonders when common sense will be realized and begin to slow down or reverse this tragic decent into ideological insanity. Although I resist the urge to place much faith in political rhetoric, today’s comments by the ultraconservative Attorney General Jeff Sessions does offer a glimmer of hope. From: ‘We Must Confront This Problem.’ Read Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Florida School Shooting
It cannot be denied that something dangerous and unhealthy is happening, and we are once again, watching the images of our children— terrified— streaming from their school with their hands above their heads.
When parents, once again, go to sleep in fear that their kids will not be safe when they leave for their school bus in the morning.
We must confront this problem. And I know each and every one of you in this room feel that way.
We, at the Department of Justice, will make this a priority, but we know that your Deputies are the ones who arrive first, respond to danger, and save our children without regard for their own personal safety.
But this cannot continue.
We are going to take action. We must reverse these trends.
Since the day I took office— in conjunction with our state and local colleagues— we have prioritized violent crime and violations of federal fire arms laws.
In the first quarter after I was sworn in, we saw a 23% increase in gun prosecutions and have now charged the most federal firearm prosecutions in a decade. It’s no good to have laws if they are not enforced.
I’ve directed my office of Legal Policy to work with our partners at Health and Human Services, Education, Homeland Security, and across this administration to study the intersection of mental health and criminality and identify how we can stop people capable of such heinous crimes.
It is too often the case that the perpetrators of these terrible attacks had given of signals in advance.
You are experienced professionals. You and I know that we cannot arrest everybody that somebody thinks is dangerous.
But I think we can and must do better. We owe it to every one of those kids crying outside their school yesterday and all those who never made it out. Our hearts are hurting today.
Again, I don’t want to read too much into these comments (the above link contains his entire speech). Sessions is the kind of politician who would demand the most brutal authoritarian responses to this crisis, which would mask and not resolve the underlying problem. However, it is notable he has admitted that “something dangerous and unhealthy is happening;” and, that is at least a start.