I’d like to follow-up on last Wednesday’s post. It was a hard day, but as far as the sad history of school shootings goes, I have nothing to complain about. No shots were fired. Nobody was hurt. Everybody returned home safely. I’m immensely thankful for that.
It didn’t just happen though. Clearly, the school district and the police force knew what to do for such a scenario. Clearly, they had trained for it, and trained well for a potential nightmare scenario, and in so-doing they may have saved lives.
We don’t know what the gunman’s intent really was. We don’t know if he was planning something horrific. We won’t know that until he is caught and investigated. But the fact that he brought a gun to a school, or to be accurate, within the boundary barring weapons around the school, and that he made threatening comments shows that there is something wrong with this person.
The really sad thing, however, is that we live in a time in this nation where school districts and police forces do, in fact, have working plans in place for the scenario of someone shooting up a school. We live in a time in this nation when my 6 and 8 year-old and their peers have been trained on lock down drills like my peers and I were trained to respond to earthquakes and fires, and even that Cold War relic, the take cover drill.
I am well aware that we live in an imperfect world and that there is no single policy or package of policies that will completely eliminate the danger of school shootings…of mass shootings, in a free society. No one has any illusions about that.
But most of us, believe we can do better. Large majorities believe we should expand background checks and limit the size of magazines and even ban assault weapons because no civilian needs to own an assault weapon. And yes, we can rebuild our mental health infrastructure, and we can discuss how to create a less violent culture through our media.
And yet, nothing gets done. Even after the horror of Sandy Hook, and Marysville-Pilchuck (when Harry was born, that would have been his high school) and Columbine and SPU (where I know a lot of people) and so many others, any meaningful attempt at limiting and rolling back the prevalence of guns in our society is thwarted by a paranoid minority who are convinced that keeping assault weapons out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, equates to a tyrannical government trying to take all the guns by force.
That is not the case. We can do better.
I’m glad I don’t live in an open-carry state. The people who bring assault rifles into stores expect us to assume that their weapons are properly secured. They expect us to assume that the guns they carry are safe. Guns are never safe. That what I’ve been taught every time I’ve handled a gun. You never, ever assume a gun is safe. That’s not from “gun-grabbing liberals”. It’s from lifetime NRA members. That’s why you need proper training and you have to always, always be vigilant because you are handling something that can kill in the blink of an eye.
You know what else can kill in the blink of an eye? A car, but it’s primary purpose is not to kill. Still, to drive a car, you must have training, a license, insurance, and you have to maintain any vehicle you’re operating as safe and street-legal. Surely, if we can impose those regulations on drivers, we could do the same for gun owners. After all, even the Second Amendment puts gun ownership in the context of a well-regulated militia.