It was with a heavy heart and a terrible sense of sorrow that I, like many of you, watched the tragic events and unfathomable loss of life in Sandy Hook on Dec. 14, 2012, and questioned how such acts of unprovoked violence can be averted. As the father of two daughters who attend Harford County Public Schools and partake in all of the wonderful things Harford County has to offer, I often worry about their safety. As a career law enforcement officer, I, like other current and former members of the law enforcement community, cannot help but to seek data on this event and others in an attempt to arrive at an answer.
Comprehensive research on such events has been conducted by law enforcement agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Secret Service and published for review by the public at large. What is clear from the research is that often times these events are not carried out without planning and more often than not, tell-tale signs were present prior to the event. Often times a certain degree of "leakage" or disclosure of intentions is exhibited publicly to friends, family, teachers and associates while planning the event.
A positive response on the part of all is required to reduce the risk of mass violence. Reaction for the sake of reaction will only tend to create the appearance of control while truly causing an effort let down. It is important to realize that people are the constant variable. A piece meal effort to reduce risk will only cause a false sense of security and leave open many known opportunities to avert these tragic events. Attacks on the Second Amendment do not begin to address what causes these acts of violence or how to interdict them before they occur. What needs to be visited is how an attack can be stopped today. Prevention programs, understanding and addressing the warning signs combined with target hardening and aggressive application of existing laws will go a long way to keep our families and friends safe.
As a candidate for Sheriff of Harford County, it is my commitment to work with other Harford County elected officials to both defend the rights of law abiding citizens and modify existing laws and regulations so as to truly enhance public safety once elected. The challenge for law enforcement today is to make the same commitment to defend our Constitutional Rights, particularly the Second Amendment, and make our communities safer.
Jeffrey R. Gahler
2014 Republican Candidate for Harford County SheriffCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun