Friday, February 16, 2018

In The Days Of The Gun!


Well we've had another school shooting. What was once upon a time a freakish and unthinkable event has now become a commonplace. I know this from firsthand evidence.


When the tragic events of Columbine occurred there was true shock and an utter transformation of how schools thought about day-to-day operations. Cameras became ubiquitous, security drills became mandatory, and police officers became a mainstay of many schools. I have worked in schools before and after Columbine and the differences are obvious. I've worked in schools with armed personnel as a regular feature of the day. I've led students in various kinds of security drills. At first we hid in the farthest corners with the doors locked and the curtains drawn and lights out. Then as time passed and panic diminished we just locked the door and took account of the students in the room. Later still we got orders to leave the curtains open so that the cops could search the building for culprits more effectively. We were trained to throw books and other items at attackers if all else had failed. And most importantly we were cautioned always to keep our heads on the swivel.


I work in a facility right now which has room numbers on the exterior walls of the building for the express purpose of assisting cops and other responders in the case of the inevitable attack. We were scheduled to have a security drill this week, but that has almost certainly been pushed back after the events in Florida.  But here is the thing that makes me know these shooter attacks, these mundane mass murders are now just part of the fabric of daily life; we had a moment of silence for the victims at my school, but otherwise things progressed normally. No crackdown on backpacks, no counseling services made available for especially stressed students, no urgent e-mails telling us to stay calm and go about our business. We just did. The day after the most recent school shooting, one of the top ten such crimes in American history, was almost identical to the day before, and that sober reality is the utter and complete tragedy of what has become life in these needlessly dangerous United States.

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6 comments:

  1. Strange you should say that this is now "..just a fabric of daily life .." the reaction in UK was similar, certainly shock that this could happen but there now seems to be total resignation here, that things won't ever change in USA and that you are never going to change your gun laws (or lack of)and the perverse love affair with deadly fire arms some seem to have. As one TV commentator put it on BBC "..as tragic as this is if after Sandy Hook nothing changed it never will and we will see this happen again and again and probably another tragedy will take place in 2018..." We all know that banning guns wont stop this happening anywhere but it wont happen as often - in Scotland we had a horrible shooting when 16 kids (all about 5 year old , just babies really) and 1 teacher were massacred by a Thomas Hamilton in the leafy and affluent town/village of Dunblane in Stirling. Even although guns were never easy to get in the UK after this the UK government introduced 2 new Firearms Acts, which greatly restricted private ownership of firearms. Whilst not ending this entirely there have been very few shooting events like this since (I think only 1 in Cumbria,Northern England) - it can be done do your leaders have the guts to do it and tell the NRA to **** off.

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    1. The gun manufacturers have a lock on the legislators in this country after decades of propaganda despite the evidence of our eyes, they still will not make the simple changes which could make us safer. Instead we will spend a few days in debate until the next things captures the media attention and wait until the next shootout. We'll need wholesale changes in our leadership to get a better situation and that will take a very very long time.

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  2. Yes, Paul mentioned the 1996 Dunblane shooting and our UK politicians reacted by imposing a huge crackdown on guns and rightly so. Most of us in Europe despair at modern America - Trump, the Tea Party fascists, the Evangelical hypocrites who worship your loathsome president, the insane electoral system which awarded victory to George W and Trump even though they lost the popular vote, the obsession with guns, the widespread belief that taxes are theft and the inability to understand that taxes pay for necessary services, your racist police, your absurdly bloated military, the complete absence of socialized medicine, the childish ubiquity of religion, the appalling gerrymandering of congressional districts, the utter corruption of your political system by money. I could go on...
    Here in the UK we aren't perfect, FAR FROM IT, but I'd need to be insane to want to live in America. The one ray of hope for your country is the upcoming "Millenial" generation. They reject Trump and his ilk and I genuinely believe they could slowly transform America in the coming decades.

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    1. I agree about the coming changes with a new generation. The "Baby Boomers" have continually shamed themselves and this country as they've tumbled through the decades. The real shame of the competition between Hillary and Trump was that they were both of the generation which preceded Obama, and consequently should never have gotten the nods of their parties for that reason alone. The reactionary racism which motivates the shout for "making America great again" is hopefully the howl of a dying breed. The future is still out there if we don't fuck up the present anymore than we already have.

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  3. I work in a high school so the shootings have a dreadful resonance for me. In addition, a social media post this morning reminded me of the awful tragedy of Dunblane and the massacre of little children.
    I don't feel railing at your country's politics is fair when our politicians are no less venal, amoral and intellectually stunted. You have my sympathy for the terrible losses your communities have experienced.

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    1. I don't doubt that politicians across the globe share many of the same lapses in morality, but the evidence is abundantly clear that the "leaders" in my country lack a resolve to bring this problem to heel. We have the maundering conversations every time and every time the energy prompted by the event blows away in the breeze, which is exactly what the purveyors of guns want. I saw a mope this morning prattling on that what is needed are armed teachers. As a colleague I hope you can agree with me that's a dreadful notion. The outlaws of the Old West had a microscopic fraction of the firepower available to the simplest villain modern America. It's a clear and present danger and it's solution is also clear.

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