When we are beset by a great disaster or crisis, the powers that often respond by empaneling a commission that holds hearings and then produces a report that tries to explain what happened and how to prevent a recurrence. And usually, nothing much comes of it.
The Warren Commission concluded Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin of President John F. Kennedy, but many people still think there was a conspiracy. The Kerner Commission addressed the causes of the urban riots of the 1960s, but many of the same problems with America’s inner cities live on. Perhaps the only truly successful commission was the one that investigated the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. When Rogers Commission member Richard Feynman, the Noble Prize-winning theoretical physicist, dipped one of the O-ring seals used for the shuttle’s external fuel tanks into ice water and showed how brittle it had become, it was case closed.
We raised these points because the one-year anniversary of the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School killings is approaching, and a commission headed by Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri has issued its report on the deadly incident. It places much of the blame for the shooting spree by former Stoneman Douglas student Nikolas Cruz on the Broward County School District and the Broward Sheriff’s Office. The report faults both for failing to take seriously the warning signs of the threat Cruz posed and the Sheriff’s Office for how it responded to Cruz’s rampage inside the school last Feb. 14. In one of his first acts as governor, Ron DeSantis, a Republican, dismissed Broward Sheriff Scott Israel, a move Democrat Israel denounced as politically motivated.
We hope the report’s recommendations about the need to improve school safety aren’t ignored.