Blue State Blues: Democrats Back Policy That Helped Lead to Parkland Shooting
Several Democrats running for their party’s nomination in 2020 are backing a policy of easing school discipline, arguing that they want to stop a “school-to-prison pipeline” that hurts minority students.
But according to Andrew Pollack (no relation), whose daughter, Meadow, was among the victims in the Parkland school shooting last February, those policies allow potentially dangerous people to keep a clean record, letting them pass firearm background checks.
That was the case with the gunman at the Marjorie Stonemason Douglas High School.
As Pollack explains in his new book, Why Meadow Died: The People and Policies that Created the Parkland Shooter and Endanger America’s Students, the gunman had a record of erratic, disruptive, and violent behavior, and yet was not isolated from other students, nor was he arrested despite dozens of police visits, or committed to a mental health facility.
At one point, the gunman was put in a program called “Preventing Recidivism through Opportunities, Mentoring, Interventions, Support and Education” (PROMISE). The program, promoted by President Barack Obama, protected students who committed crimes at school from being reported to police. “Even felonies as severe as drug dealing, sexual assault and bringing weapons to school could lawfully be kept from the police,” the Wall Sreet Journalnoted.
When the gunman-to-be did not show up for the PROMISE program after being caught vandalizing a middle school bathroom, there were no consequences. And as Max Eden, a Manhattan Institute fellow who co-authored Pollack’s book, said last year, the gunman undoubtedly committed other crimes for which no action was taken by the school: “[L]et me assure you, he committed crimes that school administrators knew about but did not record,” Eden said.
Democrats claim that gun control is necessary to prevent mass shootings, in schools and elsewhere. But as debate over proposed new “expanded background checks” continues, no one is examining the effect of “politically correct” school policies like PROMISE.
The two are connected: if a potentially dangerous person has never been arrested, convicted, or committed to a mental facility, there will be no red flags in the record for a background check to find.
Amazingly, several Democratic candidates are campaigning on pledges to restore programs like PROMISE, despite the demonstrated risks.
Former vice president Joe Biden’s criminal justice reform policy, which he is promoting enthusiastically to minority voters as penance for his tough-on-crime past, pledges to “[e]nd the school-to-prison pipeline” by “restor[ing] the Obama-Biden Administration guidance to help schools address the high number of suspensions and expulsions that affect students of color at a higher rate than white students.”
Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) echoed those sentiments in the third presidential debate, claiming that “in Texas, a 5-year-old child in kindergarten is five times as likely to be disciplined or suspended or expelled based on the color of their skin.”
The implication is that the public school teachers — who may be minorities themselves — are racists.
In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law last week that actually prevents school from suspending “defiant” children up through eighth grade. Democrats say the law will help “children of color.” More likely, it will prevent timely intervention to help them change their behavior.
For all their talk about ending gun violence, Democrats are undermining an early warning system on which background checks rely, making another Parkland more likely.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.