"It's the guns, stupid"
— Matt Gallagher (@MattGallagher0) February 18, 2018
They did everything right, but missed one key detail:
Nikolas Cruz was immature, quirky and depressed when James and Kimberly Snead took him into their Parkland home. But he was pleasant and seemed to be growing happier, they said.
How the 19-year-old turned into a killer still baffles them.
“We had this monster living under our roof and we didn’t know,” Kimberly Snead told the South Florida Sun Sentinel in an exclusive interview Saturday. “We didn’t see this side of him.”
“Everything everybody seems to know, we didn’t know,” James Snead said. “It’s as simple as that.”
Cruz still lived with the Sneads on Wednesday when he walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with an AR-15 rifle and killed 17 people — the worst school shooting since Sandy Hook.***
Five days before the shooting, Kimberly Snead took Cruz to the office of a therapist she has been seeing. Cruz said he was open to therapy but didn’t like medication. He took a business card and was figuring out what his health insurance would cover.
James, 48, is a decorated army veteran and a military intelligence analyst who served stints in the Middle East between 1988 and 1996. Kimberly, 49, is a neonatal intensive care nurse who cares for premature and ill babies.
They told Cruz there would be strict rules in their home.
“I told him there’d be rules and he followed every rule to the T,” James said.
The couple both grew up around guns and are comfortable with them, but they insist on gun safety.
They made Cruz buy a locking gun safe to put in his room the day he moved in. Cruz had a handful of guns, including the AR-15 and two other rifles that Snead said would be considered assault rifles. Cruz, a hunter, also had knives, BB guns and pellet guns.
Snead thought he had the only key to the cabinet but has figured out Cruz must have kept a key for himself. The family kept their own rifles, bought after a burglary a couple of years ago, in a separate locked cabinet.
They told Cruz he needed to ask permission to take out the guns. He had asked only twice since November. They said “yes” once and “no” once.
These seem like really sweet people, and I feel horrible for them. And they did everything right. Except one thing. They kept guns in the house and he had access to them.
I just don’t know why this is so damned hard, how many members of our society are so blinded by the obvious. Imagine if you went to the doctor and s/he said “Your test results show you have a fatty liver and early stages of cirrhosis, you just absolutely have to stop drinking and now.” If you acted like we do regarding gun violence, here is how the rest of the conversation would go:
You: What if I drink a lot of cranberry juice. I hear that is good for the liver.
Dr.: Yes, cranberry juice can be good for the liver, but you have to stop drinking alcohol. It’s going to kill you.
You: What about coffee and tea?
Dr.: Yes, those are both good, but you have to stop drinking alcohol. You are killing yourself.
You: WHat if instead I stop using butter and other oils and switch to olive oil?
Dr.: Yes, that would be good, too, but you need to stop drinking alcohol because your liver is very damaged.
You: How about if instead I start a good diet and exercise program and lose some weight?
Dr.: That would also be good for your liver and long term health, but you need to stop drinking alcohol immediately or you are going to die.
You: Thanks for all the helpful advice, Doc.
*Drinks a gallon of vodka. Dies.*
It’s the same damned things with guns, and we have this god damned debate every time there is a mass shooting. Yes, we need to spend more time and money addressing mental health issues. Yes, we need to engage our children more. Yes, we need to keep our eyes open for socially isolated individuals. yes, we need to report people who make threats to the authorities. Yes, we need to deal with people being radicalized online and via social media. Yes, we need to do all those things and more.
BUT WE NEED TO DEAL WITH THE FUCKING GUNS.
This is why all those kids from Florida who are speaking out sound like they are making so much sense- BECAUSE THEY ARE. They aren’t taking a simple issue and and getting wrapped around the axle by turning it into something complicated. The clarity of youth lets them embrace the principle of parsimony that for a number of reasons eludes the adults in the room. Crazy and dangerous people repeatedly for a variety of reasons keep killing people with guns, so we should do something about guns. When someone takes a knife into school, they get kicked out. When someone takes an AR-15 into a school, 20 kids get killed. The kids aren’t confused by all the bullshit that has seeped into our discourse, so they say things like this:
America has a gun problem, and no amount of diet, exercise, or cranberry juice is going to fix it. It’s the fucking guns, stupid.