Another school shooting. 17 innocent people die. This time in Parkland, FL. Emotions are expressed in prayers, sad faces, candle light vigils, and protests. Families hold funerals.
If past is prologue, nothing will change. The news cycle will move on to some other issue. Social media will be filled with the same old memes. The left will scream confiscate the guns; the right will say from my cold dead hands. Well intended communities hurt by the murders, desperate to do something, anything, to prevent such incidents in honor of their lost children, will be manipulated by political activists. The narrative will change from specific calls to action to the same old chants that don’t produce results and are counterproductive to their original intent to reduce the risk of such horrible killings.
To be effective, one must focus like a laser beam on a specific goal and not be distracted. The goal should be well defined and achievable.
The best place to start is where there is common ground on one issue or approach and hold its boundaries tight.
The Second Amendment to the Constitution is not going away. The NRA is not going away. 100 million households with guns are not going away. The 350 million guns in the United States are not going to be confiscated. Talk of it is a waste of time.
Calls to "vote them out" in 2018 or 2020 are simple political power plays. Forcing those in power NOW to make change rather than organizing for some distant hope is the direction to take.
The focus should be on small, specific, achievable goals that would address the specific issue of mass shootings at schools. The first goal should go directly to the issue of dangerousness and access to firearms.
Though failures abound in this case there also may not have been an appropriate tool for law enforcement and others to act in response to the dangerous indicators that surrounded the murderer. The FBI and others should be held accountable, but immediate action can also be taken to improve the toolbox of intervention and prevention.
Florida should lead the nation in response to the murders in Parkland by immediately passing a Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) or Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) law.
A GVRO/ERPO is a mechanism for law enforcement officers, family members, intimate partners, guardians, mental health professionals, or school administrators to petition a court (or request the police petition a court) to temporarily limit access to firearms by a specific individual who poses a credible risk of harm to self or others.
Five states have a GVRO/ERPO law in place (California, Washington, Oregon, Indiana and Connecticut).
The people of Parkland, and all those who support them, should begin a process of dialogue and advocacy to pass a GVRO/ERPO law in Florida in 2018.
Florida’s state government is controlled by Republicans. To pass any bill requires their agreement. Therefore, the focus of the effort should be on Governor Rick Scott, House Speaker Richard Corcoran, and Senate President Joe Negron.
The people of Parkland should organize and schedule a town hall discussion to pass a GVRO/ERPO law in Florida. In anticipation of the meeting they should prepare a draft Florida GVRO/ERPO. They should invite Scott, Corcoran, and Negron to come and discuss the proposed legislation and their intended plans to support its advancement.
Strict moderation of the meeting must be in place. They will not come and will not cooperate if protesters are screaming. They will not come if it is viewed as a partisan set up by political activists.
GVRO/ERPO, if drafted properly, can be supported across all political boundaries – including gun owners.
What about the federal government?
A bill in the U.S. Congress that would fund grants within states seeking to establish GVRO/ERPO laws should be passed. Once again, it will not happen without Republican approval. Parkland and the surrounding areas of Ft. Lauderdale are a blue enclave in a red state. Its representatives cannot move legislation in the U.S. Congress.
But Florida’s congressional delegation is majority Republican and has sway in the Congress. As a swing state Florida is critical to presidential aspirations also. The people of Parkland should request a Town Hall Meeting with Senator Marco Rubio to discuss GVRO/ERPO in Florida and specifically, H.R.2598 - Gun Violence Restraining Order Act.
This is how things get done. Little by little. Specific, focused, achievable efforts and results. The people of Parkland can lead this charge. The media will go away and move on to the next crisis. It will take commitment and stamina to build broad support across political boundaries. It can be done, particularly at this time while the entire nation grieves and supports Parkland in its loss.
One small success on GVRO/ERPO could prevent another mass murderer from killing children in schools, or people at a concert, or club goers. It can have secondary effects in stopping suicides and domestic violence. It can also stand as an example of success for further consensus actions to reduce mass murder in our communities.
A Lifesaving Gun Law You Have Never Heard of
H.R.2598 - Gun Violence Restraining Order Act of 2017