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Teachers make lousy killers

rainey BARRETT

Inside the typical second grade classroom, 25 kids are working in several places. Nobody uses four rows of fixed, old-fashioned desks anymore. At a small table, six kids are doing an art project. At the computer keyboards across the room, five others are busy. The rest are scattered, working on today’s assignments. The teacher – as she does daily – is walking around, stopping to encourage or offer a prompt. Just the daily routine.

A guy in camouflage clothing, a bullet-proof vest and carrying an assault rifle steps into the room and starts firing immediately. The teacher – 20 feet from a locked cabinet – is stunned. She’s also among the first to die.

But, had she lived, she would have had to cross 20 feet through panicked children going every which way, find her purse, find her key ring, find the right key to the cabinet – which must be locked at all times to keep kids from accidentally getting hold of a firearm in the classroom – put the key in the lock, open the drawer, reach for the pistol, make sure she has it in her grip, unlock the safety, find her target and fire.

I tried a simulation. My best time for doing that is 40 seconds. A semi-automatic rifle can discharge about 90 large, flesh-ripping, bone-breaking bullets in the same period. So, how many died in those 40 seconds? Besides the teacher?

Or, consider this. An armed guard stationed at the school is called to the gym where a teacher has found an unlocked door. At that moment, the shooter – who earlier opened the gym door – comes through the school’s main entrance on the other side of the building. He turns left to the office which is always located near the front door and sprays it with 40-50 bullets – killing whoever’s there. And anyone on the other side of the now shredded thin wall. Then he fires off a dozen or two rounds down the hall – hitting anyone there. He replaces the empty clip with another 100 rounder and steps into the first classroom – about 50 feet from the office – spraying it with another 50 bullets. My best time for that was 40 seconds.

For the armed guard on the other side of the building to recognize the sounds of firing, decide which direction it’s coming from, draw his pistol and sprint to the right location, line up a shot – with no kids between him and the shooter – well, that would take over a minute. Easily.

So how many died in those 60 or so seconds?

Those who want to put more guns into our public school system are as fanatical as any shooter. Not only would kids and teachers be no safer, the odds are more people would be killed.

Teachers are not killers. And we should not try to make them killers. Any teacher who wants to take a gun into a classroom – under any condition – is not fit to have my great-grandkids in the same room. Anyone’s kids, grandkids or great-grandkids.

Unless you’ve stood in front of someone – both of you armed – and unless you’ve taken your best shot to kill another human being, you have nothing to add to idiotic ideas to put guns in schools. You don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t give a damn if you’re top dog at your gun club or a trick shot artist. If you’ve never taken a bead on another human being with intent to kill, you don’t know if you could pull the trigger. I don’t care what the circumstances. If you’ve not faced that moment, you don’t know.

You don’t know the fear. You don’t know the uncertainty. You haven’t heard your heart beat so loudly it deafens you to all other sounds. You have not felt the instant sweat that soaks your clothes. You haven’t had your eyes go in and out of focus as you try to see your target. You haven’t felt your hands and your whole body shake. You haven’t felt so damned scared in all your life! If you haven’t killed a human being before that moment.

Those offering the demented argument of the NRA and other ignorant voices supporting such craziness who’ve never stood in those shoes – who’ve never felt those emotions – who’ve never pulled a trigger to take a life – they, too, have nothing to add to realistic solutions to mass murders. It’s all bar talk!
The killing is happening in our schools – our shopping malls – supermarkets – movie theaters – beauty salons – barber shops – service stations – city parks – city streets – our highways – and our churches. Left to a controlling minority in the NRA – and the demented voices who insist on “gun ownership at any price” – we’d need armed guards everywhere or we’d all have to carry. That is insane! As insane as trying to make killers out of teachers. With your kids standing between that teacher and that shooter.

Whether the nutty fringe of the NRA or WalMart or anyone else declines to participate, we need the very best minds on this issue of mass murder. Because the victims belong to all of us. The victims ARE all of us. The work Vice President Biden’s committee is doing right now is as important as any issue of national debt or defense or anything else on the table.

When that committee is done, two things are certain. There WILL be a set of recommendations for the President – a list of steps that could be taken on several fronts. Bet on it. I expect topics of mental health, weapon registry, better and deeper background checks, reorganizing the A-T-F bureau, law enforcement tasks and more. I expect the President to act unilaterally on several things and send appropriate legislation to Congress as necessary.

The second expectation is that there will be the usual profane outcries and the usual refusal to deal with reality we’ve come to expect from so many in our Congress. There’ll be efforts to stymie the process, to kill attempts to put both reason and teeth into gun laws. There’ll be a lot of water-carrying for the NRA and a lot of ass-covering for members scared for their continued employment.

That’s where we come in. You and I. Those of us who believe the work of solving problems of guns in the wrong hands must start before anyone sets foot on a school property. We, who believe teachers should teach – not kill. We, who believe the Constitution’s First Amendment is more important than the Second. We, who believe the right to life for us and our children is more important than the right to carry.

We will have a chance to be heard – to exert maximum possible pressures on politicians of all stripes. If we don’t do that – if we don’t coerce, demand and threaten where necessary when the time comes, the killings will continue. This is one arena where the unarmed have more clout than the NRA. If we aren’t afraid to use it.

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