In the week since the Valentine’s Day shooting at a high school in Parkland Florida, that left 17 dead, survivors have taken to the streets, the news and social media, largely to advocate for some form of gun control legislation.
“Many would like to blame this on the FBI’s lack of action, or the Trump administration,” said one survivor at a rally outside of the Florida capitol on Wednesday. “But the simple facts are that the laws of our beloved country allowed for the deranged gunman to purchase a gun legally. The law has failed us.”
The shooting – the deadliest since 26 died at a massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 – has revitalized the gun control debate in the U.S., but Judge Andrew Napolitano, senior judicial correspondent for Fox News, dismissed calls for increased restrictions on who should be allowed to purchase, or carry, a gun. “Shooting fish in a barrel is like what this murderer did because he knew that nobody would shoot back,” Napolitano told FOX Business’ Neil Cavuto during an interview on Wednesday.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, reportedly arrived at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School campus during school dismissal and began firing his AR-15-style rifle as students and faculty barricaded themselves in classrooms, officials said. The motive behind the shooting remains unclear. Cruz, a former student who was expelled from the school, was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and is being held without bail.
The biggest problem, Napolitano said, was that the school was technically a gun-free zone, meaning that no teacher or administrator was allowed to be armed while on the campus. He pointed to the football coach, Aaron Feis, a handgun owner, who threw himself on top of several students to protect them from bullets, as an example.
“If he had been carrying a small handgun, and ran toward the killer, shooting the killer, he would’ve saved a lot more people,” Napolitano said, adding, “A crazy person who wants to kill will find the means to do it. And the way to stop him is to kill him before he harms anybody.”
Cruz reportedly displayed violent and disturbing behavior in social media posts and had a number of run-ins with law enforcement. Although the FBI had been warned by a person close to Cruz that he was a gun owner, desired to kill people, displayed erratic behavior, posted disturbing social media posts and had the potential to conduct a school shooting, the top law enforcement agency admitted it had ignored protocol and not followed through with investigating.
Had the agency followed through, Cruz likely would still have been able to obtain a gun legally. Under federal law, a person can only be entered into a database and barred from purchasing or possessing a firearm if he is voluntarily committed to a mental hospital, or if a court or government body declares him mentally incompetent, which can be extremely difficult to do.
“There are forces in this country that have been trying to take guns away from Americans for generations,” Napolitano said. “These forces will try to use this tragedy to walk closer to their goal, which is to disarm citizenry. And a disarmed citizenry is a nation of sheep.”