No, we do not “simply accept mass murder.” We are outraged, and we love the way the students from Parkland are leading the expression of our outrage. We cheer their refusal to stop even at outrage.
OTOH, horrible as the mass shootings have been, or even just the school shootings, think of how many school days (in the sense of “man hours”) have not been disrupted by shootings. It’s still a very rare experience for anyone to have. We all just feel we’ve had it because we hear about them (and, yes, because of AR-15s).
What should be just as rare an experience is drilling for mass murder in every school. Lisa Beringer’s 14yo should not have the opportunity to dream of heroism. That too is part of our cowboy gun culture and the myth of redemptive violence. To make one’s name by being bad guy or good guy is all the same. Even less do I want my granddaughters to be terrorized by their school staffs in Maine, rehearsing how to stay “safe” from terror. This is no safety.
This evening I was aghast to see on the NBC Evening News an account and demonstration of “the safest school in America,” in Shelbyville IN. It starts, as in Beringer’s son’s school, with a red line on the floor, where the kids on a word from their teacher (or the separate loudspeaker system) (and the teacher is presumably, when it’s not a drill or demo, pressing an alarm button that they wear around their neck) run and crouch behind that red line, overturning their desks in a row along the sight line from the door, and, I kid you not, hold up their textbooks in front of their faces. It goes on to the staffer seated before a bank of monitors, tracking and identifying the “intruder,” locking doors, and, if necessary, setting off smoke bombs from the ceiling of hallway after hallway until the intruder succumbs. This is no safety.
With Beringer, I assert “Mass school shootings will not be ended by increasing school preparedness, arming teachers, or asking our children to hide.” Yes, mass school shootings have happened too often, but they have not happened often enough to terrorize a whole generation with rehearsing them, wondering which ones will be the victims, dreaming of heroically “saving” their peers. Mass school shootings will be ended by making assault weapons less available, at least outside of firing ranges, and by taking better care of the Adam Lanzas and Nikolas Cruzes struggling to find how they can live among their neighbors. Who’s to say Cruz didn’t get the idea for his crime from participating in one of Parkland’s drills? Who’s to say someone didn’t wonder aloud, maybe in JROTC with the boy granted a posthumous appointment to West Point, how it would work if the fire alarm were to draw students outside just at the moment that a shooter arrived and opened fire in the crowded halls? Who’s to say some poor lonely barrel of testosterone in Shelbyville IN isn’t putting together the puzzle to get past that red line and shoot up the safest school in America?
Yes, I’m outraged, but more at what we’re doing to the kids in the schools that have been sites of mass murder only in the fearful minds of their adult advisors.