39 misses in killer’s background check

We doubt any reasonable person, regardless of beliefs on Americans’ Second Amendment rights, would argue about the significance of a single number involving Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old who massacred 17 people at a Florida high school.

The number is 39.

It is the number of times Broward County, Florida, sheriff’s deputies were called to Cruz’s home since 2010.

Yet he passed background checks to purchase at least seven firearms.

There were many indications Cruz might be dangerous. Yet the right people were not made aware of all, or even most, of them in time to stop him.

But how is it that the one fact — deputies’ intervention 39 times since 2010 — does not seem to have been taken into consideration?

Details of why deputies were called to the Cruz home so frequently have not been released yet. At some point, more will be known.

Given the killer’s record of misbehavior ranging from his boasts about killing animals to his expulsion from school, reportedly for threatening other students, it is clear in hindsight there were ample reasons to worry about Cruz.

Law enforcement entities were not aware of many of those factors, but they did know about the 39 sheriff’s department responses.

Amid the ongoing national debate about who should be allowed to buy what kinds of guns and how, we suggest that Americans try to agree that someone like Nikolas Cruz shouldn’t be allowed to buy an arsenal that includes semiautomatic weapons. Therefore, background checks must be tougher.

To own a gun, one must be responsible. If not, society pays a terrible price. Therefore, our society must uphold a reasonably high standard in that regard.