Preventable crimes and how to deal with them

Once again, innocent people lost their lives in a tragic school shooting that took place in the USA. On February 14, 17-year-old Nikolas Cruz walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida and set off the fire alarms. When he made sure enough students had filed into the halls, he began firing with his semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle. He killed 17 people and injured another 14.

However, this school shooting was different than previous ones because Nikolas Cruz couldn’t have raised more red flags if he tried. It was so clearly obvious that Nikolas Cruz was a deeply troubled person, and the nation is rightly asking how law enforcement couldn’t stop him before the crime transpired.

His neighbors describe him as a deeply troubled child, who was aggressive and violent. Many times he tortured and killed small animals including squirrels, frogs and chickens. He boasted about this on his social media accounts and posted the pictures of tortured animals. In a private chat group, he frequently said he hated Muslims, Jews, immigrants, Mexicans and black people to the point that he wanted to torture and kill them. He also said that he hated white women, specifically those in interracial relationships. He frequently purchased guns and tactical wear and posed in them. He blatantly said that he could do a ‘much better shooting,’ referring to previous shooting incidents at schools. There are videos of him firing his gun in his neighborhood.

As a matter of fact, Cruz had long been on law enforcement’s radar. When in 2016, he posted a video where he was shown cutting himself, Florida’s Department of Children and Families launched an investigation but decided that he was stable enough not to be hospitalized.

This was not the only time the alarm bells rang. According to CNN, over a seven-year period, police was called 39 times to Cruz’s home with codes like ‘mentally ill person,’ ‘abuse’ and ‘domestic disturbance.’ During the fall semester, Cruz brought bullets to school in his backpack and after the incident, he was banned from bringing a backpack lest he might bring weapons to school. He was also known to be physically abusive to his mother.

Therefore, when he went to a school and carried out the massacre, it wasn’t a surprise to the people who knew him, or to the authorities that were warned so many times. It is clear as daylight there are serious problems in the way potential threats are identified and stopped before they can carry out their crimes. But how can this be possible? In the age of the Internet and mass surveillance as revealed in the Snowden leaks, we know now that nothing shared online goes missing. On that account, the inevitable question arises: Why don’t the authorities make an effort to identify potential threats like Cruz, even though they have the resources? Cruz could have been easily detected, monitored and somehow prevented from carrying out this horrible massacre.

More questions come to mind: The USA and its ally the UK started a worldwide war against terrorism, which includes full-on war in many countries. As a result of these wars, millions of people have lost their lives, economies fell, and millions of people have been turned into refugees. The US has spent more than $5.6 trillion since 2011, always with the slogan of preventing terrorism on US soil and with the promise that this way terrorists wouldn’t be able to kill Americans. But what about Americans killing Americans, which happens a great deal more often? According to CNN, for every American killed in the US or abroad by an act of terror, gun violence killed more than 1,049. Furthermore, between 2001-2014, 440,095 people died by gun violence on US soil. However, number of US citizens killed in the USA and overseas due to acts of terrorism during the same period of time was 3,412, the bulk of that number being victims of the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

In other words, while wars are started, millions are killed and countries are targeted to stop terrorism, which is responsible for far less deaths, the authorities are strangely quiet and reluctant to take action about gun violence.

It is now clear to almost everyone that gun sales in the USA will continue unless the political will decides to stand against it. However, this doesn’t mean that nothing can be done to at least reduce the possibility of such crimes.

For instance, when someone begins boasting about torturing animals, or starts to threaten people, law enforcement should consider this as sufficient proof to begin monitoring the person and intervene if necessary. Furthermore, it is crucial that every school are assigned at least one undercover police officer specially trained for such incidents.  Students, teachers and parents should look out for disturbed children who give warning signs and take proper action according to the requirements of the individual case.

On a broader scale, the glorification of violence through movies and video games must come to an end. No one can deny the immense effect this has on the psyche of young people and how this plays a role in their increasingly violent behavior. Last but not least, the media should stop covering these incidents so widely. Every time this happens, somewhere some disturbed person gets excited with the idea of doing the same and getting the same kind of attention. We extend our deepest condolences to the people of America and hope that with proper preventive measures, such horrible incidents will be a thing of the past.

Adnan Oktar's piece in Daily News (Pakistan):

2018-04-04 22:42:11

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