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The real lessons of Parkland shooting

Here are the best steps to protect schools from another Parkland shooting.

The latest massacre in Parkland, Fla. highlighted four failures: First, if you see something, say something. What was seen was ignored and what was said was ear piercing but ignored. Second, it was a failure of government across the board from the county police to the county school up to the venerable FBI. Third, gun-free zones are total failures; they are shooting galleries for the demented and wicked. And finally, the absence of armed security personnel helped no one. Their presence could have limited the carnage.

In the Florida nightmare, the coach who was hiding students was shot. Had he been armed, he could have fired back or fired first. In St. Mary's County, the attacker was confronted by a security officer at the school who would have shot him had the attacker not shot himself first. Now, if there were no security officer at that moment, would the attacker have gone on a killing spree? We shall never know, but one thing is clear: the attacker would have been stopped by that officer. In Florida and Sandy Hook, it took many minutes for the police to arrive. Security guards would have been there sooner. Minutes mean lives.

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To add more credibility to the idea of gun-free shooting galleries and the need for armed security guards, enter Patrick Neville. He speaks to reason through experience: "Time and again we point to one common theme with mass shootings. They occur in gun-free zones." Mr. Neville was a student at Columbine High School at the time of the mass shooting. Today, he is the Republican House Minority Leader in Colorado. He constantly advocates for carrying legislation in schools. He will reintroduce this bill again, but the bill has "…little chance of passage in the Democrat controlled house." Delegate Neville, I feel your pain.

Another critical factor in preventing additional school shootings is getting serious about funding mental health programs for at-risk teens. To that point, Dr. David Kupelien attempts to link many shootings by youth to psychiatric medications and their aftereffects. He lists Nicholas Cruz, Adam Lanza, Eric Harris, and others as proof. In addition, there must be a three-day waiting period and background check for anyone purchasing a rifle or pistol. The Manchin-Toomey bill expands background checks to online and gun-show sales. This background check should utilize the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Maryland's SB 1263 would enable local school boards to establish "threat assessment teams" focusing on student behavior ("Maryland Senate OKs expanded school safety bill," April 5). In fact, don't most teachers and students in schools know who the troublemakers are? Of course. When the shooting started in Florida, some students said, "It must be Cruz." Couple this with the related SB 1264, which would also require armed security guards in our schools, and you have a matrix to severely limit the next deadly attempt.

Additional measures by Gov. Larry Hogan and Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh would further curtail the risk.

Barrie S. Ciliberti, Annapolis

The writer, a Republican, represents District 4, Carroll and Frederick counties, in the Maryland House of Delegates.

Send letters to the editor to talkback@baltimoresun.com. Please include your name and contact information.

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