Three incidents occurred during February and March involving child perpetrators doing violence to others in either schools or private residences. As solutions are debated, an Israeli aviation security expert’s sage advice should be heeded. An attempted terrorist act, described herein, underscores the counsel he provided below.
In 1986, an effort to smuggle a bomb onboard an El Al aircraft at London’s Heathrow Airport occurred. Two factors were intriguing. First, although X-rayed, the bomb in the carry-on luggage went undetected as a unique explosive device was used. Second, the person carrying it, an Irish woman named Anne Murphy, had no idea it was there – her bag packed by her terrorist (unbeknownst to her) lover who rushed her to catch the soon-departing flight. Yet, for Israeli security screeners making normal inquiries, a red flag went up.
A physical inspection of Murphy’s carry-on was triggered, during which screeners discovered the first-time use of an undetectable plastique explosive. Detection was difficult as wiring normally attached to trigger such a device was missing. Further inspection revealed an altimeter detonator concealed inside a handheld calculator designed to cause a sympathetic explosion. The screeners’ red flag was curiosity why a very pregnant Murphy checked no baggage.
Israeli commercial aviation has remained safe for half a century. The only successful terrorist hijacking of an El Al flight occurred July 23, 1968. In 1988, after the U.S. suffered the terrorist bombing of PanAm Flight 103 over Lockerbie, England, an Israeli aviation security expert noted a major difference between U.S. and Israeli security efforts. What he said sheds light today in understanding why the Parkland high school shooting and other similar attacks occur and what needs be done to prevent them in the future. The Israeli noted, while U.S. security focused on identifying terrorist tools – i.e., guns, explosives, etc. – Israeli security focused on identifying terrorists.
This difference is critical in identifying would-be killers. For Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz, it was mental illness. Treated for it as a child, he refused treatment after turning 18. Clearly, he was of such a mental state, even lacking access to a gun, he undoubtedly would have selected a different tool from a would-be mass killer’s tool chest to conduct his attack.
In Parkland’s aftermath, we have seen tools from that chest used in various attacks.
The first week of March witnessed an unsuccessful effort by an unnamed Utah high school student to kill classmates by bringing a bomb to school hidden in his backpack. While his motivation was ideological (supporting ISIS) rather than mental, he only failed as a mass killer when his bomb, left in the cafeteria, fizzled. Earlier arrests included vandalism and removing a neighboring school’s American flag, replacing it with an ISIS flag.
A month after Parkland, another Florida attack occurred, involving a 17-year-old convert to Islam. During a sleepover at a home to celebrate a friend’s 13th birthday, Corey Johnson sought to kill as many infidels as possible. Lacking access to guns, he chose a knife. He killed a 13-year-old boy and seriously wounded a mother – stabbed 32 times – and her 13-year-old son. Johnson – investigated previously for “alleged violent tendencies” – admitted watching jihadist videos and reading the Quran beforehand “to give him courage” to carry out the attack. (Note to Obama: So much for Islam being a “peaceful” religion if a 17-year-old is so easily influenced.)
Of the three incidents above, the only one receiving national attention for action was Parkland, for it alone involved a gun. Anti-gun critics blamed the National Rifle Association (NRA) for deaths of young students by promoting gun ownership. Such attacks on the NRA, many involving overzealous critics, are reminders how stirring a lynch mob into a frenzy can get an innocent man hanged. They ignore the fact the NRA promotes “responsible” ownership. Heeding the Israeli’s advice to focus on the terrorist, critics need query whether any NRA member has ever become a mass killer.
Police reports do not provide information on whether an armed criminal was an NRA member. But one pro-gun proponent’s effort to calculate a prorated number used the 2010 homicide rate of 4.8 per 100,000 and that year’s 4.3 million NRA membership to compute an infinitesimal average of 0.0000048 murders per member. The bottom line is NRA members are probably among the most law-abiding citizens, yet this is whom anti-gun activists target.
As a pro-gun critic claims, “there has not been a reported mass shooting ever by an NRA member. If there had been, the liberal media would have jumped all over it the second it was learned, and the NRA would never have heard the end of it.”
Focusing on NRA membership is misplaced. Each perpetrator’s behavior above established himself as a misfit. Cruz clearly should have been committed to a mental institution by court order. Where students like Johnson and the Utah student were involved, young minds were easily impacted negatively by Islam – a potential threat source desperately in need of a national debate lest it continue poisoning young minds.
In all three cases above, intermediaries clearly stood between perpetrators and their weapons of choice. Whether parents, teachers, fellow students, counselors, etc., human intermediaries, having personal concerns about perpetrators’ behavior, could have acted – but did not.
Perhaps they were intimidated by President Barack Obama’s infamous criticism of those who harbored concerns over “Clock Boy” – a 14-year-old Muslim detained for making a clock look suspiciously like a bomb, which he brought to school. While he subsequently filed several unsuccessful lawsuits, good Samaritan-type legislation is needed to protect intermediaries acting on their concerns from civil liability.
Other interesting facts anti-gun activists choose to ignore are that children live in an America safer today than the 1960s; more people are killed by “hammers and fists” than AR-15s; 64 percent of mass-killers’ problems were mentally related; and research shows school shooters tend to come from broken homes where one or more parents is absent, addicted or abusive. Yet it is the responsible, law-abiding citizen activists go after.
Naïve anti-gun activists missing the target concerning responsibility for gun-related mass killings desperately need a re-calibration of their focus.