Saturday, February 17, 2018

Priorities in the Wake of the Florida School Shooting

February 17, 2018

Priorities in the Wake of the Florida School Shooting

As the parent of middle and high school-aged children, I will be the first to express my profound sadness and fear in the wake of the school shooting this week in Plantation, Florida.  No parent should ever have to endure that fear and no community should ever have to accept that this happened.  Seventeen people were senselessly murdered.  There is no rhyme, reason or justification for it.

But as so often happens in the wake of these incidents, the leftstream media and the left-leaning folks in the zeitgeist call for gun control – more legislation about who can own guns, who can buy guns, where guns are permitted, etc.  Then come the echoes from the pro-gun side about the Second Amendment and how laws don’t actually prevent determined people from committing crimes.  If you read this blog regularly, it should come as no surprise that I agree with the pro-gun element in this discussion.  Guns don’t kill people, evil intent does.  Guns are simply a tool for evil, just like moving trucks are for radical Islamists who drive into large groups of people. 

Let’s talk about math for a moment.  There are more guns in America than there are people. Setting aside the Second Amendment, it would be impossible to confiscate and destroy all of those guns.  If you make the purchase of the guns more difficult or near impossible, they will still be bought and sold.  So the reality in 2018 is, we need to do more to fortify our schools.  We need to invest in measures to harden those soft targets if we want to prevent this from ever happening again.  Doing so will require money, manpower and above all, commitment. 

“But O’Hanrahan! The government doesn’t have any money!”  Right.  Well, I beg to differ.  In fact, the government has all of the money they ever want or need for any given project.  They simply don’t prioritize things like school safety and security.  The bottom line is, it’s not important to them.

For example, let’s take the Broward County Public School system.  In 2016-17, the budget for the Broward School System was just under $3.7 BILLION dollars… Yes, that’s BILLION with a “B”.  Take a look:



Yet, with all that revenue, the Broward School System ostensibly didn’t allocate much, if at all, to school safety and security.  A quick scan of the budget document (located here: http://www.broward.k12.fl.us/Comptroller/cfo/budget/NEW_PDFS/District%20Budget/District%20Budget%202017.pdf ) indicates no allocation within the budget for safety and/or security.  All that cash and no one can bring themselves to spend a little on student safety?  What does that tell you about the priority of the Broward School System?

In fact, public education is hands-down, far-and-away the single largest portion of any state or local governmental budget.  More than public safety, more than assistance programs, more than any other category.  Bringing it closer to home, here are some of the public school budget numbers from inside the Commonwealth of Virginia:

·        Fairfax Co. Public Schools FY 2018 budget:  $2.8 Billion
·        Loudoun Co. Public Schools FY 2018 budget:  $2.5 Billion
·        Stafford Co. Public Schools FY 2018 budget:  $278 Million
·        Henrico Co. Public Schools FY 2018 budget: $469 Million
·        Chesterfield Co. Public Schools FY 2018 budget:  $621 Million
·        City of Newport News Public Schools FY 2018 budget:  $305 Million
·        Gloucester Co. Public Schools FY 2018 budget:  $65 Million
·        City of Charlottesville Public Schools FY 2018 budget: $81 Million

You get the idea…

Yet in all of these budgets, if safety and security is addressed or funds are allocated, it is a fraction of 1%.  If you want to see what the real priorities are in your government, follow the money.  Less than 1% -- That’s how much the public school system feels about the safety of your children. 

After the tragic shooting in Newtown, CT in December of 2012, I wrote my local school board member and County Board of Supervisors a letter.  I explained my background and expertise in the area of school safety and active killer response for law enforcement.  I told them under no uncertain terms that if they want to make real progress to protecting the children in our County, they need at least 1 full-time police officer stationed in each school because (although I didn’t quote him), Wayne LaPierre was right – The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

My proposal was not only dismissed, but other consequences ensued from me sharing my opinion and expertise with them.  That’s how much they cared about my kids’ safety.  Nothing got done and I was actually reprimanded by my employer.

So leftists can claim the NRA is at fault for their lobbying efforts or for partially bank-rolling pro-gun or pro-Second Amendment candidates, but their contributions are a drop in the bucket compared to the revenue the public school system spends.  And they spend virtually none of it on safety or security. 

Who will hold the public school system accountable for protecting our children?  We entrust them with our kids’ lives every day they leave the safety of our homes and they spend virtually no time or effort to ensure their safety.  It’s inexcusable and it needs to change.

-O’Hanrahan