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February 26, 2018

Gun Violence and Critical Thinking

Jason Miller

Like all of you, I was repulsed by the mass shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. That said, I am a National Rifle Association (NRA) member and supporter of the Bill of Rights.


To be clear, not just a few of the amendments either. I support them all.


I wasn’t surprised as students from across the country walked out of classrooms last week to show solidarity with the students from Stoneman Douglas. These Florida students are demanding serious reforms to the nation’s gun laws. Grief and anger have been channeled into the cause of gun control.


Many media outlets are bombarding viewers and social media with clips of students who are demanding personal firearm confiscation. They claim that the NRA, and like organizations, are to blame for the violence in America. The Second Amendment is for muskets according to many of the students and teachers on camera.


Walkersville Middle School, right here in Frederick County, had 100 students walk out of class for 15 minutes – and then return to class. This, too, was done to support the Florida students, who are trying to bring gun violence in America to the forefront. I say “good for them.” I am a First Amendment absolutist. These students becoming engaged in the national discussion is a good thing. It’s a teachable moment for all of us.


What I don’t like is the bias vacuum that many students are being taught in when addressing the issue. I knew that the main stream media was not going to let a good crisis go to waste. They started to fan the anti-NRA flames immediately following the shooters arrest. The bias of the network news reporting was startling.


As time passed, we learned that The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) preemptively dropped the ball when multiple tips to its national hotline about the shooter went uninvestigated. Later we learned that Broward County Sheriff’s deputies went to the shooter’s home multiple times (some say 39 times other say 18) and could have arrested him at any point. Yet still, some talking heads shamed NRA members and law-abiding gun owners as being more likely to commit mass shootings. A statement that is patently false.


All of my fears about the anti-gun bias in the main stream media coverage of the shooting were realized on CNN’s televised Town Hall about the shooting. Watching this CNN broadcast on gun violence was a nightmare if you were a supporter of the Second Amendment. It was more a scene from a movie than an honest discussion.


NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel were all in the auditorium to answer questions from the teachers and students who survived the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas. The intent was noble. The outcome was a free for all.


Ms. Loesch was interrupted multiple times and at one point booed so loudly that the moderator couldn’t hear her response to a question. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel gave Ms. Loesch a lecture reminding her of his credentials in law enforcement and questioned her sincerity in her personal outrage toward the shooter.


Only days after the program aired, we learned that the school resource officer assigned to Stoneman Douglas decided it was more prudent to stay outside while the mass shooting took place rather than saving children he had sworn to protect.


Later, Sheriff Israel (who declared the NRA a large reason for gun violence in America), told ABC News that his department is currently investigating whether four more of his deputies stood cowardly outside the high school during the mass shooting.


Sheriff Israel’s mismanagement of his department cannot be completely ignored in the discussion of this mass shooting. My own Frederick County sheriff, Chuck Jenkins, is extremely competent at law enforcement, and he is a supporter of the Second Amendment, too. We all need to understand that gun violence is an issue with many sides. If a national discussion on gun violence is to be had, critical thinking has to be a major component of that conversation.


Woodsboro - Walkersville Times
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