By Simon Albaugh – Yemeni American News
In the wake of the Oxford High School shooting that left four dead, seven injured and an entire state mourning the loss, the question remains of what went wrong. But just as important is working to understand how the future for our children can be better than this.
News reports have detailed school officials and the parents of Ethan Crumbley’s neglectful response to Ethan’s distressing behavior. In response to Crumbley’s google search of ammunition, along with a drawing that depicted Crumbley shooting other students, his parents were called in order to remove him from school.
However, the parents didn’t leave with Ethan. Instead, the 15-year-old was sent back to class before opening fire on 10 students and one teacher.
When’s Justice Coming?
A lawsuit filed on behalf of the parents of one injured student alleges that the school district’s systemic failures allowed the mass shooting to take place. There had been a number of warning signs, including social media posts by Crumbley and concerned parents and students directly contacting the school district.
In an email sent by Oxford High School Principal Steven Wolf, the district official downplayed the threats of a violent incident the day before the shooting, saying: “I know I’m being redundant here, but there is absolutely no threat at the HS. Large assumptions were made from a few social media posts, then the assumptions evolved into exaggerated rumors.”
The lawsuit filed by Attorney Geoffery Feiger addresses this specific point. The lawsuit alleges that the school’s superintendent, in downplaying the threat, put children in additional harm by creating the false sense of security that left four people dead.
“Despite the posts and knowledge of threats of violence, defendant Throne sent correspondence and emails to parents at Oxford High School reassuring them that their children were safe at Oxford High School,” reads the lawsuit. “By virtue of defendant Throne’s actions, he substantially increased the harm to plaintiff Minors.”
In the meantime, both shooter and his parents have already appeared in court. All three are being held at Oakland County Jails, and none are in contact with each other. The shooter’s next appearance is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 13.
How Could This Be Prevented?
Everytown for Gun Safety is a nonprofit that advocates for evidence-based solutions to the gun violence epidemic in the United States. They boast mayors, moms, teachers and even gun-owners among its six million members.
As one of the largest gun safety organizations, they’ve released a detailed report of the latest research directed toward eliminating the risk of gun violence in schools. In partnership with the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, the report is meant to establish the legal, social and psychological infrastructure that can direct potential school shooters toward treatment before any act of violence.
Their detailed plan calls for cooperation among politicians, school officials, and especially gun sellers and owners. Rather than advocating for arming teachers or taking back guns, the plan hopes to foster a safe and collaborative environment in homes, schools and their broader communities. The plan calls for:
- Pass Extreme Risk Laws to ensure that there is a legal framework for preventing those in crisis from using guns for acts of violence against other people.
- Encourage Secure Firearm Storage through public information campaigns and steep penalties for irresponsible gun storage that leads to a crime.
- Raise the Age to Purchase Semiautomatic Firearms to 21 from the current age requirement of 18.
- Require Background Checks on All Gun Sales, rather than allowing for private, online, or gun show sales to happen without the use of a federal background check.
- Create Evidence-Based Threat Assessment Programs in Schools that would allow for school officials to determine if a student has access to guns and ensure that sufficient professionals are available to provide students with mental health services.
- Implement Expert-Endorsed School Security Upgrades like controlling who has access to school buildings and ensuring that doors are able to be locked from the inside.
- Initiate Effective, Trauma-Informed Emergency Planning that would identify, prepare, prevent and effectively respond to an active shooter situation in a coordinated fashion.
- Create Safe and Equitable Schools by ensuring that problem resolution is not overly dependent on discipline and encouraging effective partnerships among students and the adults in the schools and surrounding communities.
Although there is progress across the board to achieve these goals, Michigan has already taken some steps even before the Oxford High School tragedy. Over this summer, the Michigan Legislature introduced a bill that would have created the legal framework for holding parents accountable for storing or leaving a firearm where it could be accessed by a minor. This bill was co-sponsored by Rep. Abraham Aiyash.