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Monday, July 18th, 2022

Baton Rouge, Louisiana


There is a poignant family portrait, painted in 1943 by Norman Rockwell, called “Freedom of Fear,” that shows a mother and father standing over their sleeping children. The father holds a newspaper with a headline that refers to the Blitz of London by German planes. The parents are agonizing over how to tell their children about the tragedy and danger of World War II.

In today’s America, parents worry over to how to explain the heartbreak of the recent killings in Highland Park, Illinois and Uvalde, Texas. How do you tell a child not to be afraid when they witness gunshots regularly in our cities, and kids go through shelter-in-place drills in their classrooms on a regular basis?  How would you like it for your child to come home from school and tell you “We had an active shooter drill?” Parents today don’t worry about explaining violence halfway around the world. They are much more concerned about what they can do to protect their kids right where they live.

In Highland Park, a two-year-old boy was engulfed in the arms of his dad.  Both his mother and his father were killed by a deranged shooter. His parents were there with their son at an idealistic celebration that should have been fun. The 21-year-old gunman killed seven people and injured dozens more. Yet there were plenty of warnings. The killer was obviously mentally deranged, and had parents who aided him in obtaining weapons that he had no business possessing.  His father even signed the application to purchase the killer’s weapon. His family just looked the other way. Should they not also be held accountable?

This shooter was well known, a violent threat to everyone including his family, with a record of vehement encounters. The police continually came to his house where he had numerous weapons. He had threatened to commit suicide and kill his family. Yet the police did nothing.  Why? Because to preempt his action would have been deemed a breach of his civil rights. The “broken windows” model says ignoring small crimes causes larger ones. We have allowed crime investigation to replace crime prevention.

In Uvalde, parents tried desperately to enter the school building in a frustrating attempt to save their children. But they were held back by incompetent law-enforcement officers who had no plan to confront the killer.  A video from inside the schools was released last week showing 19 cops gutlessly hovering in the hallways, and even running back outside the door from the shooter. Shots rang out from inside the classroom, each time killing a child, yet these supposed brave officers of the law just stood there and did nothing. For seventy-seven minutes. Kids were crying in agony and calling 911 begging for help. Yet those whose job it is to protect miserably failed to assist and defend.

And we should also not let the parents off the hook. In this day and age, you just don’t turn your children over to the school and pray that they get by the day without violence. Are parents asking tough questions about what kind of protections the school has in place? Does their school have cameras, fences and gates?  Is there a monitor on duty all day long to review suspected individuals lurking around the school or to see anything out of the ordinary?  Is there a direct line to the local police department?  Does the school supply regular updates to parents about security and safety? Parents need to have complete confidence that the protection of their children is the school’s number one priority.

In some parts of the country, there has been a deterioration in both the selecting and training, as well as the commitment of police officers who are chosen to safeguard us. Look no further than the nation’s capital, where on Jan. 6th, our seat of government fell to a group of out-of-control protesters, showing how some of our law enforcement agencies are woefully unprepared.

Yes, we have a number of police departments who meet a high standard of excellence. But we can’t stand by and let a few bad apples tarnish the reputation of those who commit to protecting us. How horrific it would be if Norman Rockwell were alive today, and had to repaint his portrait.  This time showing parents standing by their kids and armed with A.R. 15s.  America is better than this.

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownla.com. You can also look over a list of books he has published at www.thelisburnpress.com.







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