I didn’t know who Samuel Ronan was when he stepped up to the microphone at the very contentious Lakota school board meeting on February 27th 2017. My first impression of him was that he was just another overly emotional kid speaking against arming teachers in our public schools. The typical thing in these types of exchanges is to be respectful of the audience, even if they don’t agree with you, because it is the battle of ideas which sifts out the truth of a matter. When I spoke nobody heckled me or made comments from the audience, so I provided the same sentiment and that’s how it should be. However, there was something very fishy about the young man who quickly provided an address that didn’t seem to match anything within the Lakota district and instead of addressing the school board, the kid turned and addressed the crowd. We all sat stunned that he had crashed an otherwise civil meeting on a contentious topic. He had to be stopped because he went over the three-minute speaking limit. After Ronan spoke, the kid disappeared quickly before I had a chance to talk to him, which was fully my intention. I went out into the hall to see if he was anywhere about. He had left as quickly as he came. So I did a little checking to see who he was and what I discovered was rather revealing.
My desire to confront the kid stemmed from a couple of things he said during his speech, namely what I took as a challenge when he said that he was trained on the AR-15 platform and he doubted that any teacher would want to face him during a rampage. Those aren’t his exact words, but that’s what he was essentially saying. I’d have to watch the tape of the meeting to get the exact dialogue which actually may have been more suggestive. Of course my answer to him is “hell yeah” I’d be willing to engage an active shooter—especially if it was a kid like him—disrespectful, aggressive, showing a disregard for the rules of conduct of the established practice of a forum—those are all alarm signs that such a person is up to no good. Now, you wouldn’t shoot someone like that without provocation, but if a person will bust in on a school board meeting and not reveal what their true intentions were, taking it for granted that everyone around him would be too nice to confront him, then he made the precise argument as to why we should arm teachers. That’s what I was going to tell him until I realized after he had left that the kid was actually a progressive Democrat from Springboro, not even from Lakota, and that he had switched parties to run against Steve Chabot in the upcoming 1st Congressional District race. Even more, this wasn’t just any progressive Democrat upset about the national trend toward gun rights—especially arming teachers in schools from domestic terrorist threats—this guy ran for the Democratic National Committee Chairman seat. Not your typical anti-gun protestor.
I typically have a soft spot for young people, especially charismatic young people who involve themselves in the events of the world—but there was something creepy about Ronan that came across as startling. He wasn’t a listed speaker for the evening, he simply took the opportunity during the public comments portion, after the scheduled speakers had concluded, myself being one of them, and proceeded on with an uncomfortable rant that was misplaced for the event. He wasn’t even speaking to the crowd, the board, or even a single individual–he was only interested in the cameras. What was odd was that he gave his camera to a Muslim woman sitting in the middle of the crowd to record his video, then when he took the podium he addressed the crowd directly instead of the board and during his speech he edged as I said on confrontational language talking about his military background and how he knew how to use such dangerous weapons giving him an advantage over average teachers. It was an odd mix of euphemisms that had what to me contained ominous undertones. As he was talking I just took it as the talk of an overly anxious and political kid looking to be the next Dave Hog, maybe to get on the many television cameras that were present. Then for some apparent reason he included discrimination against Muslims which had no place in the discussion—only that he injected it out of nowhere. It wasn’t even relevant to the topic. Those of us present were mystified by his behavior which left us scratching our heads as he left.
It was only after that I did some investigation into the kid and discovered that he was quite a national activist, and that his presence there at Lakota showed to what extent the school district in my neighborhood was going to play in national politics yet again. Being one of the largest schools in the state of Ohio in a state that Donald Trump won by 11 points, which went his way even with the establishment Republicans at the time led by John Kasich working against him, the district of Lakota is conservative even for conservative standards. It would be Lakota where the issue of guns in schools would live or die, and this progressive activist put his sights on Lakota to leave his national mark. My instinct said to engage the kid, which I tried to do after the meeting and find out what his story was. And as it usually is, my instincts were correct—this was a kid up to no good. Yet he hadn’t done anything overtly bad enough to mandate a confrontation. We all just politely let him ramble on hoping he would come to reason on his own, which of course he didn’t.
He misled people about who he was to speak that night at Lakota. He stepped into the heart of Lakota management and trusted that we’d all be too nice to really engage him, and he was right. Even I was so respectful of his right to speak that we let him go on for over 3 minutes breaking all the rules that such public speaking at Lakota required. But even more than that he was misleading people on his printed campaign literature, listing himself as a Republican of the 1st District which includes the equally conservative Warren County, Ohio. He knows he stands no chance of winning a congressional seat unless he runs as a Republican in his town of Springboro. Yet just last year he ran for the DNC Chairman seat—the head of the whole enchilada and was on many debates on CNN. He was bold, and audacious—and very experienced at an early age in the art of radicalism. If you took away just a few layers of sanity from such a person, he might be the next school shooter—a person who pretends to be an innocent visitor to a school to get past the first layer of security, then when everyone was content that he was a safe person, that would be when the guns come out and a rampage would begin. If he was bold enough to crash a board meeting that has pretty strict rules of conduct and behave like he did, a similar person would work their way through official security protocols to unleash their ill intentions. That’s why we need that extra layer of security—a teacher comfortable with firearms discreetly hidden from view could engage such a radical saving so many precious seconds which likely would mean the difference between life and death.
That’s not to say Samuel Ronan is a terrorist—I think he’s a very progressive radical looking to make a name for himself. But if you consider his behavior and the way he exploited goodness, and the trust of good people there in the room with him at Lakota—a seriously deranged person would use the same tactics to get to kids in a school to satisfy whatever instability might inspire them into such a dire action. And instead of making the case for why teachers shouldn’t carry guns in the school, Ronan showed us why they should. When people can’t function on the basic elements of trust, our protocols rooted in honesty make us all vulnerable to villains who don’t observe such rules of conduct, and that is the way of our modern world, like it or not. People like Ronan who don’t tell you honestly who they are and pretend to be something when they are really something else are obviously up to no good—otherwise there would be no reason to mislead people.
The reason we are required to give our name and address as speakers before the board is to protect the process of debate for just this kind of outside intrusion of politics, and Ronan was no small-time flunky from Springboro. He was a regular on CNN who had no intention to address the school board of Lakota—he went there to record himself on a stump speech trying to cause trouble. And he came and went largely without confrontation. The point of the matter is that good people trusting that everyone attending that night had good intentions either for or against the debate in question and were operating with a basic level of respect. What Ronan taught us at Lakota is that–it is that very trust a school shooter would exploit to make a menace of our children contained within our buildings. And by the time we figured out who they were, it would be too late. That’s how 17 people died in Parkland, Florida and many other places, because there wasn’t someone there on point to stop a hostile agent of terror—even as they stand sometimes right in front of us with an offering of peace and civility, when they really intend carnage.
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