Michael Goodwin: It's time to believe tipsters when they warn us about maniacs

The slaughter in a South Florida school last week is the latest example of how our approach is failing and leading to senseless deaths.

All this is true — and helps explain why we seem powerless to stop mass violence. It’s long past time that America chart a course similar to Israel’s and focus on “who the people are” so we can zero in on dangerous individuals.

Even before the bodies were removed from the high school in Parkland, Fla., reports emerged that the admitted gunman, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, was flagged as extremely dangerous. We now learn that police were called to his home scores of times, the school barred him from carrying a backpack after finding bullets in his bag and later expelled him.

Most chilling, the FBI failed to investigate a credible tip about him last month. A caller warned of “Cruz’s gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting,” the FBI said in a statement.

The admission led director Christopher Wray to apologize to victims’ families and pledge to find out what went wrong.

If he’s serious, Wray won’t limit his inquiry to this case and won’t limit the examination to insiders alone. Too many times on too many issues, the bureau has been unwilling to come clean about its mistakes and even misbehavior.

Recall that agents got a tip from Russia about the Boston Marathon bombers being terrorists, did a quick check, but never even informed Boston police or urged them to keep an eye on the ‎Tsarnaev brothers. Boom.

It’s individuals who carry out these heinous acts and it’s individuals who must be stopped. That’s the point of focusing on “who the people are.’’

After examining its actions, the FBI said it did nothing wrong. How could that be?

The father of convicted Chelsea bomber Ahmad Khan Rahimi claims he warned the FBI about him long before the 2016 attacks that wounded 31 people, but agents cleared him. Boom.

Calling his son a “terrorist,” the father told an interviewer, “You have to go to the government as to why they did not stop this child.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that a school shooting in New Mexico last December that left two students dead came after the FBI investigated — and cleared — the shooter for comments he made online about violence.

In fairness, there are gray areas in these cases about what constitutes public danger as well as laws about privacy and mental health, not to mention the First and Second Amendments.

Yet the demands sweeping the nation for Washington to “do something” about gun control mostly miss the mark in cases like those cited above. Until America is ready to focus on “who the people are” and take preventive measures against a relative handful of individuals known to be dangerous, nothing will change except the carnage will continue to grow.

For example, President Trump should reverse himself and reinstate an executive order President Barack Obama signed late in his tenure. It added 75,000 people who receive disability benefits because of mental handicaps to the federal background check database, meaning they probably could not legally buy a gun.

Due process concerns are valid, but they should be resolved through an adjudication system on a case-by-case basis, not by a wholesale neglect of public safety.

Similarly, technology companies must stop focusing on political speech and pay more attention to threats of violence made by users. And mental health officials have to stop hiding behind confidentiality claims when their patients represent a clear danger.

Adam Lanza, who murdered 26 students and faculty members at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook elementary school, had known mental health problems and was obsessed with violence, yet nobody tried to remove the guns his mother kept in their home and taught him to use. Lanza killed her before going to the school, where he killed himself as police closed in.

That’s not to say that sensible, incremental gun restrictions wouldn’t be helpful in some cases. But demands for sweeping restrictions are doomed to fail politically and legally.

Scrape away the veneer of some demands and the logical conclusion is that confiscation of millions of existing weapons kept by law-abiding people would be involved. That would be like confiscating all cars to stop drunk driving.

It’s individuals who carry out these heinous acts and it’s individuals who must be stopped. That’s the point of focusing on “who the people are.’’

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel put the balance best. While conceding there were failures to stop Nikolas Cruz, he also rejected attempts to shift the blame to society at large.

“Make no mistake about it, America,” he said. “The only one responsible for this incident is the killer himself.”

To read more Michael Goodwin on The New York Post click here.