See Something, Say Something, Do Nothing

Tacitly admitting their inability to protect Americans from deadly attacks, whether they be from Islamic terrorists or the mentally unhinged, government and law enforcement officials began a campaign to turn America into a version of East Germany with Americans informants acting as a home grown version of the Stasi reporting suspicious details about their fellow Americans under the guise of improving public safety.

In designing the Constitution to serve as the blueprint for a government dedicated to preserving the liberty of American citizens, the Founders were careful to recall their experiences wresting American sovereignty away from the oppressive British crown. Prior to and during the Revolutionary War, the British maintained an extensive network of colonial spies and informants reporting on the lives of their fellow colonists to the British seeking evidence of sedition against the crown. Often glossed over in our history of the Revolutionary War is the fact that many colonists remained loyal to Britain and willingly served the British despite the fight for independence waged by their fellow colonists. Many of these loyalists even moved to Canada after the war to remain British subjects. It was this experience with loyalist informants that prompted the Founders to include protections against unreasonable search and seizure through the requirement of legal warrants issued by a court so as to protect Americans against legal harassment prompted by unsubstantiated gossip and innuendo.

Upon learning of potential illegal activity, law enforcement conducts an investigation to gather evidence of a crime. If evidence is obtained suggesting that a crime has been committed, law enforcement goes before a judge to present this evidence seeking warrants for the collection of additional evidence. If the original evidence presented to the court is found to support additional investigation, a judge issues the requested warrants to collect this information. It is this process which protects Americans from being hauled off to jail on the suspicions of a neighbor reported to the police. We conservatives often fume at the ACLU for scrupulously upholding these protections when they are instrumental in the release of criminals, but they serve to protect all Americans from unreasonable searches and seizures by members of law enforcement who are either overzealous or satisfying a personal animus against us.

In this age of terrorist attacks and mass shootings, law enforcement has been forced to grudgingly admit that it lacks the ability to prevent attacks carried out by those who fall through the cracks of the myriad layers of their paperwork approval process. In those cases, only a tip from a close associate who becomes aware of irrational behavior suggesting a mental state prone to becoming a danger to himself or others on the part of the suspect may be all the warning anyone has to intervene before that person lashes out violently. Even then, unusual activity is not necessarily an indication that someone is going to lash out in a violent attack on others, and the normal investigatory process would follow its course to protect the liberties of the suspected individual.

Many of the mass shootings occurring over the past decades have involved reports from friends and associates of the perpetrators who described their lack of surprise to learn that a particular attack was committed by the perpetrator given their knowledge of his behavior prior to the event, often in a matter-of-fact tone. Given this, the government launched the See Something, Say Something public service campaign to increase public awareness of the need to report suspicious activity one notices from someone in their social circle. The intention was that these tips were going unreported because Americans were not aware that they should be reporting them. This misperception overlooks the fact that many of these tips were provided to officials concerning the perpetrators prior to their attacks but were overlooked for a variety of reasons. It is sometimes difficult to navigate the gray and murky area between behavior that indicates a potential attack and behavior that is merely eccentric when it comes to reporting this to the proper authorities. One does not wish to unnecessarily report someone to the police for fear of needlessly entangling someone with the police or looking foolish for reporting otherwise rational behavior.

Given the spirit of independence and propensity to leave others to themselves woven into our national identity, convincing Americans to report suspicious behavior of those they encounter naturally goes against our grain and is a tough sell. Making this even more difficult is the failure of law enforcement to follow up on these tips to actually do something after Americans have taken the trouble to say something. Americans have experienced the massive failure of law enforcement from the local level all the way up to the FBI to follow up on the many reports from a wide number of sources provided to law enforcement concerning Nikolas Cruz and his publicized intentions to commit a mass shooting at his school. Unusual behavior, public pronouncements, details of a sketchy family life, and prior incidents with the law were all reported to law enforcement on multiple levels and promptly ignored. Dozens of students and faculty were killed and wounded in Cruz’s shooting spree as law enforcement did nothing to act upon the information they pleaded for the public to provide.

Instituting an operation to have Americans report suspicions of their fellow citizens to police with no corroborating evidence is a dangerous practice which could easily lead to the type of police state which existed in East Germany prior to the fall of the Soviet Union. The East German Stasi waged a campaign whereby East Germans reported on their fellow citizens through a network of informants which often saw family members reporting on each other. Everyone watched everyone else in an operation of terror and intimidation. Those who insist that this could never happen in America with its ideas of independence and autonomy ingrained in the national psyche would do well to remember that the notion of extending marriage to homosexuals was also once unimaginable, and not that long ago. While there is certainly some prudence in reporting clear indications of imminent danger to authorities, we must be careful not to promote such a practice to the point whereby it threatens our liberty and induces distrust among us as Americans.

Having failed to actually follow up on the tips it solicited from Americans, law enforcement is now throwing its weight behind that old standby of the left, gun control, as the ultimate cure to prevent future mass shootings. The arguments promoted by the left in support of gun control have all been thoroughly debunked through both logic and experience, yet they continue to flog this dead horse in the hopes of convincing Americans still imbued with a sense of self-reliance and notions of protecting their loved ones of giving up their most effective means of self-protection.

Given the massive failure of law enforcement to protect the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School despite receiving numerous tips on Nikolas Cruz, it’s safe to say that Americans are even more convinced of law enforcement’s inability to protect them. Americans aren’t about to relinquish their guns when police won’t even follow up the tips they’ve been given by the public. Not only did the police fail to investigate these tips, video of the school shooting showed police officers refusing to enter the school to confront the shooter as he mercilessly picked off victims. The public saw something and said something, but the police did nothing with the information and even less during the actual shooting spree despite having a Broward County deputy on the scene at the time of the shooting.

To the chagrin of the left, the sorry performance of the police in the matter of the Florida school shooting at all levels is even more of a testament to Americans of the need for protecting themselves with firearms seeing as the police can’t reliably be counted on to provide this protection even when they happen to be near, which is rarely the case. Many of those who have suffered at the hands of violent offenders have immediately armed themselves and vowed never to be defenseless again. One of our greatest fears is the thought of finding ourselves confronting a violent attacker and lacking the means to defend ourselves. It is for this reason that many Americans choose to carry firearms.

In the case of Nikolas Cruz, Americans saw something and said something, but the police did nothing. This inaction occurred on every level from the local police all the way up to the FBI, so no law enforcement agency can claim they would have acted differently. This tragedy especially highlighted the incompetence of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and the administration of Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel. Far too many local law enforcement agencies are staffed by undertrained personnel who landed their jobs through personal connections to the sheriff. These individuals lack the training and confidence to be effective in their jobs, and nowhere was this fact demonstrated more clearly than in the refusal of Broward County deputy Scot Peterson to enter the school and confront Cruz as he continued his killing spree. Had someone in the school been armed, it is possible that they could have ended Cruz’s rampage, but no one was armed. It is time to stop the madness of designating gun free zones in the foolish belief that a criminal lunatic will respect such lefty insanity. The police can’t and won’t protect us, so it is up to us to get armed and protect ourselves.

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