2018-03-01 / Views

Guns talk ignites base, but solution goes deeper

In a conversation held shortly after the horrific school shooting in Florida, Leelanau County Sheriff Mike Borkovich — a Second Amendment advocate — relayed steps needed to prevent such tragedies that he’s heard from residents.

Fingers were not pointed at the gun used in the killings.

“There are more people contacting me saying we don’t need gun control, we need mental health access. A kid can watch a violent video game and kill people as fast as he can pull the trigger. Then he flips a button, and everybody is alive,” Mr. Borkovich said.

Regardless of where fingers point following the massacre in Florida, they are pointing. Students want to take down the National Rifle Association, conservatives want to blame the FBI and cops.

With 17 dead bodies, there is plenty of blame to go around. And plenty of reasons to be better prepared in the future.

In Leelanau County, some of the security changes being bantered about the country were put in place following the Sandy Hook killings. “The Boot,” a lock-down device designed to keep intruders out of classrooms, was installed in the four public schools and St. Mary.

Also, “buzz-in” security systems were installed at the front entrances to most schools. Leland Public School installed such a system at its front door on Grand Avenue this week. Now the door will be locked from 8:25 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“Schools should be a safe place, free of guns and violence, free of bullying and harassment,” superintendent Jason Stowe wrote in an announcement to parents.

So schools in Leelanau have already taken some steps toward public safety from those who would do harm. But frankly, if an armed gunman is intent on killing people, he or she will probably succeed.

Mr. Borkovich was responding in part to resurfaced calls to ban all “assault rifles” from the public. The rifles are about as deadly in the hands of a capable shooter as semiautomatic deer rifles with extended clips.

And ARs would be difficult, if not impossible, to ban today. The AR-15 used in the Florida shooting — the AR stands for ArmaLite, not assault or automatic rifle — is the most popular sporting rifle in America.

Why so popular? They are the weapons of choice for movies and video games. The shooters of today spent their childhoods handling them through remotes.

More than 40 percent of respondents to one survey said that there was at least one gun in their household. The movement to pass strict restrictions on gun ownership may build fire within a political base, but getting a federal law passed that can be enforced and meet the requirements of the Second Amendment is another story.

There are things law enforcement can do to prevent mass shootings, and many are related to gun ownership. First, America has to balance the rights of individuals to own guns with their mental health.

In Florida, the law enforcement community let down students, allowing too many deaths to occur before the shooter fled. Whether that resulted from a lack of training or bad cops, we don’t know. Our short summation is that we’ll take Leelanau’s finest over those from other places.

Our next thoughts may sound hokey, but that’s OK.

Let’s get to know and encourage our kids to become better people. Volunteer in schools and invite your neighbors’ children over for a game of catch. Play a game of cards.

Parents, tell your kids to turn off the video game so you can enjoy your precious time together.

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