gun control

What Can Realistically Be Done to Stop Mass Shootings? Former Police Chief, Parkland Activist React

Former Miami and Houston police chief Art Acevedo and Stand With Parkland founder Tony Montalto have thoughts

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Just as Valentine’s Day is forever stained with tragedy in Parkland, so too is the Fourth of July in Highland Park, Illinois. The two communities, unfortunately, have too much in common.

In Parkland, we watched a city worker lowering the flags outside city hall to half staff. They do that when another community suffers the tragedy of a mass shooting. The worker told us he does it way too often.

“We’re talking about yesterday, yet, don’t forget we had Buffalo just a matter of weeks ago and after Buffalo, we had Uvalde in Texas, and so it’s kind of Groundhog Day in the United States where it seems like on a daily basis, or way too frequent, we’re having these mass shootings, these massacres across the country,” said former Miami and Houston police chief Art Acevedo.

Tony Montalto founded the non-partisan group, Stand With Parkland, after his daughter, Gina, was murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. I spoke to Montalto and Acevedo about what more can realistically be done to stop the massacres.

“We finally saw Congress take an important first step and the president sign into law the bipartisan Safer Communities Act,” Montalto said. “Finally we’ve seen both sides come together and address the many things Stand With Parkland has stood for, which is helping to secure the schools, better mental health support and screening programs, finally, if you choose to own one, responsible firearm ownership.”

Stand With Parkland championed the Safer Communities Act, which among other things, increases the scrutiny of background checks for those under 21.

“We’d like to see a strengthening of the universal background check nationwide, where we have one system used nationwide,” Acevedo said.

“We need to bring in the social media companies, we need to provide a method for reporting troubling statements or troubling posts to authorities,” Montalto said, pointing out the disturbing threats the Highland Park suspect made on social media.

Those should’ve been red flags. The new law provides funding for states to set up red flag laws, like Florida did in 2018, which allow authorities to temporarily take guns away from people who exhibiting threatening behavior. The Florida law has been used thousands of times, potentially saving many lives.

Acevedo says every state should have a similar law.

“You can’t yell about mental health, right, this is a mental health crisis, and then turn around and not do something about trying to identify individuals that are in crisis, who have no business possessing firearms especially high capacity deadly weapons like the AR15 rifle and not do something to get it out of their hands even if it’s temporary,” the former police chief said.

“Thoughts and prayers are not enough, we all need to come together as an American family to work on stopping these tragedies,” Montalto said.

I asked him if that includes making semi-automatic assault rifles harder to obtain.

“There’s no denying the weapons that have been used in many of these mass shootings, including here in Parkland,” Montalto responded, but said that should not be interpreted as an endorsement from Stand With Parkland for an assault weapons ban.

On that issue, Acevedo says it’s not politically realistic. Both men say the age to buy a gun should be raised to 21 nationwide. It already is in Florida, but in some states, an 18-year-old can legally purchase an AR-15-style weapon.

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