American Freedom Alliance Tackles School Mass Shootings

By George Miller 

There is a major conflict in our nation about how to prevent violence done with firearms. Some blame guns and want to greatly restrict, ban or even eliminate them and/or drastically weaken the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment. Others blame poor law enforcement, worse laws, psychotropic drugs, degradation of culture, media glorification of perpetrators  and more and believe that addressing these is the key.

Editor’s. note: This article is about a Conservative group’s stance on shootings. 

No aspect of this dispute has been more pronounced, and understandably emotional, than mass shootings in schools. These strike at the heart of what is most dear to most of us, our helpless children, under deadly assault, by whacked-out nutcases or ideological zealots, while they are in what many assume should be “safe spaces.” Although just about all political sides agree that it’s terrible and must be stopped, there is enormous disagreement on causes of and remedies to the problem. To make it worse, they even disagree on what the facts and statistics are, which is critical for any rational analysis.

To explore the situation, the American Freedom Alliance (AFA), a high-powered LA-based Conservative organization, held their Spring Conference “School Shootings: Facts, Fallacies, Freedom and the Future” at the Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel in LA on Sunday, May 20. On their web site’s main page it says: “Advancing the ideals and values of Western Civilization”– a fairly ambitious undertaking. To be sure, they put a Conservative spin on it , but speakers presented a wide range of opinions, causes and fixes within that orientation, with plenty of common agreement. This was an important conference if only because it presented a wide cross section of some top constitutionalists who are Conservative.

Left-wing organizations have attacked AFA, throwing accusations at them and calling them all manner of names. AFA President Karen Siegemund loves it, she says, because it means that AFA must be right on target.

After being immersed in this event all day, it was a jarring counterpoint to return home to my Ventura County dinner table that evening to read a front page LA Times article. It lamented how the Texas townspeople where the latest shootings occurred were, for the most part, not at all convinced that gun control was the answer: Santa Fe, unlike Parkland, says the issue behind the latest school shooting isn’t guns

The militantly anti-gun Times seemed perplexed quoting students, law enforcement and church people, then seeming to disagree with them.

The ConferenceProceedings

Broward County High School journalist Kenneth Preston. Photo: Debra Tash/CitizensJournal.us

The conference itself presented an information-packed day of top flight presentations by experts with related facts, statistics, opinions, media activity, psychology and law. There were also presentations by a Parkland shooting survivor, Kenneth Preston, a Florida student journalist who discovered that there was grant money to update the fire alarm system in the high school- then he discovered much more.  Another presenter was a Romanian ex-pat who warned about the dangers of losing the rights to self-defense, relating how his country was disarmed after World War 2 by the Communists.

We couldn’t help but notice, during our research for this article, that Dr. John Lott, one of the heavyweight speakers, is under furious attack on the Internet by the opposition anti-gunners. They went after his methodology, research and statistics. When we asked AFA President Dr. Karen Siegemund, who just happens to hold a PhD in mathematics. about it, she quickly sent us the following attachment of refutations: JohnLottResponseToCritics032218.

We will only summarize the event here, but full event videos should be available within a week or so and we’ll link them here when we get them. We have to give the organizers much credit for a program which looked at the situation in multiple ways and presented speakers’ conclusions:

Summary

  1. The Mainstream Media, some politicians and NGO’s are going all out to blame guns, twist or even make up statistics to make their point,  demand radical changes to gun laws and even the Second Amendment. Dr. John Lott, Jr., President of the Crime Research Center,  extracted portions of “Gun Control Lies” from his latest book (see web site) to support those.
  2. Medical academia and public health sectors have also been weaponized to make their points that they are in the tank for extreme gun control, per Dr. Arthur Przebinda, Project Director for Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership.
  3. Per Mark Tapson, Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org and a Shillman Fellow at the Horowitz Freedom Center, the Left blames “Toxic Masculinity” in part for the problem of violence and by extension,  school shootings. The very concept of masculinity in western civilization is questioned and its elimination is urged. This is alleged to be part of a bigger program to undermine western culture to weaken our society.
  4. State of NY University researcher Jaclyn Schildkraut, PhD, urged that Notoriety be denied to the shooters, who crave the attention.  She spearheads the group No Notoriety   They urge the deletion of the shooters’ names and photos, dialing down the sensationalism in the news reports and focusing on the facts and a range of practical solutions. She also noted the increasingly high volume of mass shootings publicity whenever an incident occurs. Schildkruat is the co-author of Mass Shootings: Media, Myth & Realities and other works.
  5. Pro Second Amendment Broward County, Florida high school reporter Kenneth Preston ferreted out Broward County’s disgraceful implementation of a failed Obama era program to stop the arrests of criminal students and focus instead on counseling. One of these students committed the Parkland massacre. A similar program is in effect at LAUSD and many other school districts. Broward County also failed to use most of $130 million in grants intended for school safety. The new system would have detected a false alarm which would have hindered the shooter in flushing students out of their classrooms. 
  6. Young Parkland shooting survivor Kyle Kashuv strongly supported Second Amendment gun rights and ridiculed opposition attempts to undermine them via invalid, emotional arguments,

    Parkland survivor Kyle Kashuv. Photo: Debra Tash/CitizensJournal.us

    skewed facts and statistics. His presentation- Protecting Students: The Right Way and the Wrong Way, was an effective counterpoint to high visibility Parkland student and anti-gunner David Hogg, but is not afforded anywhere near the same media attention.

  7. Several speakers opined that the rejection of moral/Christian values/traditional Western culture has led to violence.
  8. Fatherless family boys are more prone to alienation and violence, less proficient in school, more likely to drop out, do drugs alcohol, & suicide, said presenter Dr. Warren Farrell, author of The Boy Crisis … and other works. He asserted that 26 of the 28 worst mass shootings were perpetrated by such people.
  9. A last minute speaker from Romania told us about how abolition of gun ownership rights shortly after WWII ended facilitated total domination of the country and effective elimination of the former native national leadership/elite. He said that they should have emulated the American Founders, in NOT giving up their gun rights- and so should we now.
  10. Keynoter/writer/commentator Andrew Klavan pointed out that most of the conference was driven by fact-driven presentations, but he would instead take a “story” approach- and he did, in a way that entertained, informed and wrapped up the day very well.  His main thrust was defending the basic human right of self-defense, only guaranteed, not granted by, the Constitution/Second Amendment, embedded in the American psyche, literature and folklore, going all the way back to the ancient Greeks. He also cited firearms as a guarantor of all the other human freedoms. He was especially critical of “wild, crazy, anti-freedom rants” by anti-Second Amendment forces and cited so-called “Parkland Survivor” David Hogg as one of the most ridiculous examples. Klavan, chuckling, also shared with us a story of his rich, famous anti-gun neighbor protected by armed guards, who promised to watch over him. Finally he marveled that Hollywood’s greatest story-tellers, most of whom are anti-gun, largely make their living producing or acting in gun-toting roles.

There was some really fine speaker/audience Q&A action. I urge you to watch the videos when they are available.

I was most impressed with John R. Lott who provided hard facts that exposed the lies we have been hearing about the dangers of the Second Amendment in the media and by the two teenagers who told us what really happened at the Florida school shooting.  –Betsy Speicher

 

Other Conference Highlights

Dr. John Lott. Photo: Debra Tash/CitizensJournal.us

Dr. John Lott noted that media/politician/NGO anti-gun campaigns do swing public polls more in favor of gun control, but opinion snaps back afterward. He also questioned the veracity of polls and noted how they can be rigged.

He showed how statistics on gun violence can be portrayed in ways to make the US look bad and other countries look better. He also mentioned that crime definitions, reporting accuracy and statistical methods can greatly distort the numbers. He asked, for example, if we thought that Venezuela and the U.S. have equally good reporting systems. Ditto on reporting correlation of states’ gun control vs violence. To understand this in more depth, watch the video, or better yet, read some of his published work. It is revealing.Truth is a casualty of propaganda wars.

 

Conclusions

Interesting topics that arose in multiple presentations were the number of mass shootings, whether they are increasing and if so, how much, why and what to do about it.

Without being too presumptuous, we’ll attempt conclusions of what we think we heard there. There is no uniform definition of what a mass shooting is- needs to be standardized. Some key data about shootings, perpetrators, victims, are not uniformly collected, or collected at all. One presenter said that if someone is shot at a remote school bus stop, it is sometimes called  a mass school shooting. Sometimes,  an incident of even one or two deaths is called  a mass school shooting. Depending on what time periods or criteria are used, it would seem like there are more shootings now or about the same. School shootings differ from shootings in general in that they tend to be perpetrated by young white disaffected males, often on psychotropic drugs whereas shootings in general have more minorities involved. Media publicity is heightened and used to help force gun control. 

It appears that the volume and sensationalism of publicity- even glorification, the knowledge that there are “gun-free zones,” psychotropic drugs, the revelation of techniques and weak defenses, the lack of security, the lack of law enforcement, breakdown of the nuclear family and resultant young male confusion/degradation, the moral relativism taught, even ridicule of Western moral values, are all contributing to an increase or at least a continued level of violence. But, the left attributes it to availability of rapid fire guns, lack of gun control, mental health problems and toxic masculinity, even though some of the worst incidents are in jurisdictions with tight gun control. Not emphasized at the conference was poor gun security and training in gun safety, something that even the strongest Conservative gun advocates often lament. No correlation was made with poverty/economy.

Keep in mind that overall U.S. gun homicides have plunged by half since 1992, even as guns sales have skyrocketed, with 80-90 million gun background checks performed during the eight year Obama era alone.

Conference-proposed solutions to reduce school shootings included better school security, better mental health systems/surveillance, enforcing existing laws, improving moral training/standards, improving family units, better uniform reporting and analysis, developing more of  a consensus for solutions.

Lott also pointed out many countries with higher gun homicide rates (and more stringent gun control laws) and said there would be even more if they had our reporting standards. He said the U.S. is in the middle of  the pack. He went on to cite countries with higher mass shooting rates, too and pointed out discrepancies in reporting systems. He pointed out that 90% of worldwide mass shooting deaths are Muslim-perpetrated.

 

Statement by AFA President Karen Siegemund

AFA’s Sunday conference on School Shootings was a tremendous success; a crowd of well over a hundred people gathered

AFA President Dr. Karen Siegemund. Photo: George Miller/CitizensJournal.us

out of concern for our kids and the recognition that the threats go much deeper than the Left’s knee-jerk reaction to seize our guns.  Only by addressing true causes can effective solutions be arrived at, The passion to address this issue in a thoughtful and comprehensive way was palpable throughout the day.

When “school shootings” take place, we mourn for the lives lost, the families shattered, the community devastated.  Too many among us, though, seize these tragedies as opportunities to advocate for an agenda that not only subverts our rights as Americans and therefore makes us less free, but that also makes our schools, our communities and our nation less safe.  In addition when the gun-confiscation media and narrative kick into high gear with the marches and so on, what is ignored is the very real suffering that too many of our students feel suffering that emerges sometimes in suicide, but too often in these violent mass attacks.
AFA hosted this unique conference because one can only prevent or thwart these horrific events if we look at the entire constellation of contributing factors, as well as the realities of the relationship between crime and gun ownership.  And for me, the bottom line was this: it is the destruction of fundamental Western values that have created the conditions where these things occur.  The role that fatherlessness plays can not be overemphasized and this, of course, is a result of Leftist policies that have damaged families and belittled, scorned and even dismissed the importance of fathers in our children’s lives.  The media, too is culpable in its over-celebritizing shooting perpetrators and showering them with a bizarre sort of glory which is alluring to many of these perpetrators.
Sunday’s conference on “School Shootings: Facts, Fallacies Freedom and the Future” aimed to put these horrific events in a context of a wide array of potential factors that are known to contribute to this kind of attack.  Rather than jump on the “BAN GUNS” bandwagon of hysteria – an agenda that only serves to subvert our rights and freedoms and that in fact makes us LESS safe rather than more – as is borne out by the extensive research shared with us by the nation’s leading expert, Dr. John Lott.

The conference on School Shootings by the American Freedom Alliance was an anecdote to confusion.  We learned from Dr. John Lott (he has written several related books) and Dr. Arthur Przebinda the importance of gun ownership and responsibility.  And that guns do not carry out mass shootings. What took the conference over the top was Dr. Warren Farrell’s talk on “Boys in Crisis” (you can buy the book) and Mark Tapson’s talk basically on chivalry (a book is forthcoming.)  They both discussed our current cultural attack on masculinity and how destructive it has been to men and our society as a whole. Andrew Klavan finished up the conference with a most fascinating speech the gist of which was that the independent individual from whatever rank is a dynamo.  Explosive – yes, the conference was!

-Mary-Mark Haggard

Any common agreement?

Well, maybe there are a few areas of common agreement between factions. For example, there is little serious disagreement that obviously disturbed, severely mentally deficient, and violent people should be kept away from guns. Pro-Second Amendment advocates fear that this could be done improperly. It wasn’t discussed at the conference, but securing guns from unauthorized access is a goal of both sides, although they have some differences in how.  There is agreement that existing constitutional gun laws should be enforced- but not agreement on which ones are constitutional. Nearly all of the left and quite a bit of the right can tolerate background checks, but outright gun registration has less support. Again, constitutionalists don’t necessarily trust a  government to do that, since the Second Amendment and gun statutes might some day conceivably be used against them.

But, overall, it is clear that the battle lines have been drawn. On one side are those who believe that guns are the problem, that the People are not to be trusted with them, that only big government has the wisdom and the power to set this all right through prohibitions and force to mandate it. They attempt to make this reality by incrementally eroding rights of self defense via propaganda, taking over key positions and implementing statutes, rules and edicts to enforce their will. On the other side are constitutional Second Amendment supporters who take a hard line that it may not be infringed, that it is there to protect the People from all manner of potential threats, including our own government. This reaches back to our colonial origins, defense against the British colonial masters, leading to independence and the very existence of the USA. This side blames moral failings, poor policies, enforcement and even politics.

We must state that presenters made their cases very well, but the other side is equally emphatic and confident in presenting their views. You need to look at all sides to make a really informed decision.

 

Some relevant articles:

From AFA

Mom says daughter rejected shooter’s advances before Texas school incident

Incoming NRA President blames culture of violence, meds…

MOTHER JONES: HOW THE MEDIA INSPIRES MASS SHOOTERS

Despite Rhetoric, Schools are Safer than Ever

Oath Keepers Police Professionals’ Recommendations for Improving School Security

 

George Miller is Publisher and Co-Founder of CitizensJournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard


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