Let’s get rid of the presumed need for “active-shooter drills” in our schools
Desafortunadamente, we observe a horrifying anniversary this week. A year ago, this country was convulsed by the deadly mass shooting of innocent children at an elementary school in the largely Mexican American town of Uvalde, Texas. Nineteen children and two adults were ruthlessly gunned down by a guy who had easy access to deadly weapons. It’s an episode that is seared into our memories. On the anniversary of that day, a doctor who treated some of the injured recalled the horror he witnessed. Dr. Bob Guerrero recalled, “The most horrible part, I guess, was just seeing parents I knew outside screaming, asking me to look for their kids.” He added: “You never really get that out of your head.”
That horror happened in Uvalde a year ago. A year later, the mass shootings seem darkly routine. It’s insane.
Another day, another mass shooting. Eight people shot dead, including two little sisters, one in second grade, the other in fourth grade. It happened at a shopping mall in Texas. That was preceded by a horrific massacre at a public school, also in Texas. But it doesn’t seem to matter what the location is—it happens throughout this country. It’s mad. And it’s maddening. The ugly statistics tell us it happens almost every day. There have been 199 mass shootings in this year. There are only 150 days elapsed this year, so far. That’s insane.
Only more insane are the ridiculous responses from the “thoughts-and-prayers” politicians. The latest pendejada came from discredited erstwhile Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva. In response to all the recent deadly gun violence, he said: “We don’t have gun violence, we have people violence.” A hackneyed echo of that hoary NRA trope that “Guns don’t kill people, people do.” The disgraced former sheriff, seemingly like every other right-wing stooge, now has his own little podcast where he spews such nonsense.
People with guns are killing people, including innocent children. If murdered children aren’t enough to motivate this country to do something about severely limiting the proliferation of weapons, I guess nothing will. And, what a sad and sick society that makes us. There are more guns in this country than there are people. The last count by people who keep track of such things is that there are 400 million-plus personal weapons in the United States. Hard to believe.
From Sandy Hook to Uvalde to the mall in obscure Allen, Texas, the results are inherently devastating and, beyond that, the aura of anxiety such events cause continues to reverberate in our communities. The threat that “it can happen here” can immobilize us. And that ain’t good.
Because of such threats and such fears, we’ve developed bizarre new rituals. A few years ago, we didn’t have the phrase “active-shooter drill” in our lexicon. Schools and workplaces “practice” what procedures should be followed when a deranged person with a gun shows up and starts shooting. “Active-shooter drills.” The existence of such a phrase—and the unfortunate reality of the apparent need for such an activity—should move us emphatically beyond the response of “thoughts and prayers.” All of this, hey on top of the Covid craziness, has upended our world.
An aspect of this hit close to him recently. I have three very cool grandchildren. The youngest is a three-year-old boy. “I’m gonna be four,” he assures us. He was in class at his private pre-school, learning and playing in the safety of his classroom. Suddenly, chaos exploded. Bells rang. Intercoms chattered with frantic instructions. And then, para empeorar las pinches cosas (or more forcefully, para acabarla de pinche fregar) the BAD GUYS showed up. Trust me, this actually happened. The school had actors wearing scary masks burst into classrooms and play areas.
They scared the crap outta the kids. The notion, I guess, was to let the kids know there were evil people around and they should do what’s necessary to hide and be safe. I guess. But did the organizers consider for a moment how damn traumatizing that would be for kids who are two and three years old? My son and his wife were quite justifiably pissed off by all of this. They withdrew my grandson from that school.
But just think of the ripple effects of all of this gun violence are having on all of us. The NRA and fossilized right-wing politicians go on and on about the sacred Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Back when I was a reporter, pounding a beat every day, I encountered what could charitably be called “gun nuts.” How they howled about their “rights.” Yeah, they need rocket-propelled grenades to hunt squirrels in the woods. When you asked straight, legitimate questions about reasonable gun control such as laws to prevent minors or people with demonstrated mental illness from having easy access to guns they would reply: “Once you infringe on one thing on my right to a gun, they’ll just keep going on and on until they take my guns away.” En serio. I heard dozens of versions of that response over the years. And that mentality holds sway today.
Just watch statehouses and Congress. They aren’t going to challenge the gun lobby. It will take lots of effort to get these tapados to move to remove the danger of guns.
Además, what worried me—and I mean really worries me—is the connection between guns and the right-wing wing nuts. I’m talking about the so-called Proud Boys and Oath Keepers and neo-Nazis who embrace the idea of Right Wing Death Squad. The death squads were the personal assassins unleashed by dictators during the extreme civil strife in Latin America. White supremacist, nationalist groups wrap themselves around the Second Amendment to justify and amplify their fascist motives and actions. That’s a major reason that I fear for the future of the republic. All of us, let’s not sit on our hands. Let’s do what we can to peacefully oust legislators and public officials who pray to the false idols of the NRA.
Let’s get rid of the presumed need for “active-shooter drills” in schools.
Luis Torres is a veteran journalist. He is completing a biography of political pioneer Gloria Molina.
The latest example
Para cabarla de fregar
para acabarla de fregar