Why school shootings should be considered a homeland security issue

Should we rethink homeland security?
Should we rethink homeland security? 03:32

A former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, is accused of murdering 17 people in a shooting rampage. Wednesday's massacre marks the 18th school shooting just this year. CBS News senior national security analyst Fran Townsend told "CBS This Morning" it's time we start looking at school shootings as a homeland security threat. She served as homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush.

"When we think of homeland security, we think of terrorism issues, we think of natural disasters. We don't think of school shootings," Townsend said. "This ought to be at the top of the list of homeland security threats because we have an obligation to protect our children. And we need to deal with – even though it's a difficult political issue – it's time for people to really put that aside and say we're gonna deal with it."

According to police, the suspected gunman used an AR-15 rifle that he legally bought last year.

"The assault rifle was really intended for military use, right? I think of that from my time in government as being the weapon used by the U.S. military overseas," Townsend said. "We had an assault weapons ban. It expired. And the politicians in Washington don't seem to be willing to continue to have that debate."   

A Mississippi man told CBS News' Jeff Pegues that he warned the FBI last September about a comment allegedly posted by the suspected shooter on a YouTube video saying, "I'm going to be a professional school shooter." The comment is raising questions about the role social media companies should play in monitoring and reporting this type of behavior.

"They need to provide resources, people who go hunting on their networks, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, where they find this stuff, they don't just take it down, they take it down and report it to law enforcement so we can try and prevent these things before they happen," Townsend said.

But in this case, co-host Gayle King countered, the comment was flagged by a user to the FBI. What happened after that?

"We don't know and you don't know if they actually were able to identify him from – Nikolas Cruz is a common name. Could they identify him? Could they find him and interview him?  Did they understand he had other social media accounts that might have triggered even more concern."