Florida sheriff’s 'dereliction of duty' around shooting should be focus, not 'law-abiding gun owners:' NRA

PHOTO: Students are evacuated by police from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., after a mass shooting on Feb. 14, 2018.PlayMike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP
WATCH Florida shooting a result of 'abdication of duty': NRA

The Florida high school shooting that killed 17 students and staff on Feb. 14 is the result of a "dereliction of duty" by local police who failed to adequately follow up on prior tips about the alleged shooter, a National Rifle Association spokesperson said.

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"This all stems from their dereliction of duty, and I know they say now it’s 23 times that they had calls in, in addition to two FBI tips and numerous reports from classmates" about the alleged shooter, NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” Sunday.

PHOTO: Dana Loesch, spokesperson for the National Rifle Association, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), at National Harbor, Md., Feb. 22, 2018. Jacquelyn Martin/AP
Dana Loesch, spokesperson for the National Rifle Association, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), at National Harbor, Md., Feb. 22, 2018.

Since the shooting at Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida, students from the school have slammed the NRA and elected officials who accept campaign contributions from the gun-rights advocacy group. Their criticism has focused on the organization as a whole or its leadership.

But Loesch said blame is being placed on the group's members.

"I wish that as much attention were given to the Broward County sheriff and their abdication of duty as trying to blame five million innocent, law-abiding gun owners all across the country for this," she said. "This is not the fault, nor are five million innocent, law-abiding Americans culpable for this. Many of us are parents too."

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel announced last week that two deputies were placed on restricted duty while his office investigates whether they "could have" or "should have" done more to respond to prior reports about the alleged school shooter at the Parkland high school, Nikolas Cruz, 19.

The sheriff's office received 23 calls related to Cruz or his brother since 2008, Israel said.

PHOTO: Nikolas Cruz appears in court for a status hearing before Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Monday, Feb. 19, 2018. Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP
Nikolas Cruz appears in court for a status hearing before Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Monday, Feb. 19, 2018.

Of the 23 calls, investigators think two of the cases "deserve extra scrutiny" to see if there was a policy violation by the deputies involved, authorities said.

PHOTO: People walk in front of a Broward County sheriff car after a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14, 2018. Cristobal Herrera/EPA-EFE via REX/Shutterstock
People walk in front of a Broward County sheriff car after a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14, 2018.

Loesch said, "I’m not a member of the FBI. I’m not a member of law enforcement but I’m going to tell you, if someone is online using their name saying they’re going to shoot up a school, if they’re banned from school because they’ve taken bullets and knives in their backpack to school, if they’ve been sending messages saying that they’re going to shoot and kill their classmates, that to me sounds like a potential school shooter," she said.

The NRA spokesperson also said that the type of weapon Cruz allegedly used, a variant of the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, has been unfairly maligned.

PHOTO: Students are evacuated by police from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., after a mass shooting on Feb. 14, 2018. Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP
Students are evacuated by police from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., after a mass shooting on Feb. 14, 2018.

"That firearm did not walk itself into the school," Loesch said. "An individual who was allowed to go unchecked by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office allowed that firearm to go in the school."

"People keep calling these weapons of war," she said of the AR-15. "This thing originated in the civilian market before it was adapted by the military."

Loesch said she believes the true aim of proposals to restrict who can buy AR-15s is to ban all semi-automatic weapons.

Broward County sheriff's deputies will now carry AR-15 rifles while on school campuses following the Feb. 14 massacre, authorities announced last week.

Loesch was asked about President Donald Trump’s recent statements supporting raising the minimum age for buying rifles such as the AR-15, a proposal the NRA has opposed.

The spokeswoman responded, “I know that people are trying to find daylight between President Trump and five million law-abiding gun owners all across the United States. These are just things that he’s discussing right now... So far, nothing’s been proposed yet.”

As to Trump's expressing support for arming teachers to help prevent school shootings, Loesch said, “This is something that parents and educators are going to have to determine for their schools."

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks as he hosts a listening session with high school students, teachers and parents in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., Feb. 21, 2018. Carolyn Kaster/AP
President Donald Trump speaks as he hosts a listening session with high school students, teachers and parents in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., Feb. 21, 2018.