When attending school, there’s usually a few safety drills each year – evacuation drills in case of fire, tornado drills (in tornado alley, mostly), and in recent years code red drills were added to the list. They begin on seemingly normal school days. Over the speakers comes an alarm tone and a short message: “Code Red Drill – possible shooter on campus, lock-down classrooms. I repeat, this is a drill but treat it as the real thing.” We would then be instructed to do these following things: calmly walk to the nearest classroom, close and lock all doors, turn off all the lights, get out of sight of the windows, get down on the floor and be really quiet. The drill would last long enough for staff members to go from classroom to classroom, checking to see if a door wasn’t locked, if a light was left on, or if a student was visible from the windows, or if students were wandering the hall-ways. Once the ‘all clear’ was sounded then roll-call would be taken so that all students were accounted for. Each student was also tasked with presenting their picture ID badges that identify them as students – they were supposed to be worn and visible at all times on the lanyards they provided us. Did you have to do that at your school? Wear a badge just in case they needed to identify you if you’ve been shot? Depending on the size of the high school, such a drill could easily last fifteen minutes. If you’re a certain age, then odds are you never had to quietly lie down on the cold floor of a classroom in the dark for fifteen or so minutes pondering how you would safely get out of the building if this weren’t a drill.
I’m not sure how I feel about guns. I know that many of my brothers and sisters in Christ consider the Second Amendment right up there with the Ten Commandments. Some churches have been known to raffle out guns as prizes for special gatherings. Then I took a look at some statistics:
very nearly half of all residents of my state own at least one gun. (47.7%)
my state comes in at 17th place on the list of deadliest states as a result of gun violence (13.7 out of every 100,000 people die as a result of having been shot.)
in 2012, Sandy Hook and the Batman movie theater shootings happened nowhere near my state.
in 2012, my state bought more guns than any other (a total of: 2,329,151 guns.)
On the one hand, I come from a culture obsessed with the idea of owning, collecting, target-shooting, hunting, and having guns. It is our right. But I’ve grown up watching news stories about mass shootings – seemingly one after another ever since I was a little kid. I see guns glorified and vilified all on the same day. Movies and t.v. episodes show a world where guns make everything better and safer and there are no consequences. But reality is a whole different thing. On t.v., the actor that is shot dead gets up to live another day. In real life, an unlucky shot from an inexperienced shooter can all to easily be fatal with very little effort. Go find a list of the mass shootings – it spans centuries, but the most recent decade is one of the lengthier parts of the list. The old days – guns weren’t very powerful. One maybe two would be as bad as it got. Today it gets much higher, five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five – the right gun does a lot of injury but just as almost as certainly, it kills.
Let’s face it, the thing about owning guns these days is to protect ourselves from the faceless bad guy – to be willing to turn a weapon on a person who is likely somebody’s son, brother, cousin, uncle, or husband and pull that trigger. It’s about taking their life before they take ours or the lives of those we love. Such a thing doesn’t happen every day. Guns are not the threat that keeps us peaceable people (or else.) What a poor excuse for a society we would be if we trusted in guns to keep us safe as no one could be trusted to do the right thing or be a decent person. More and more though, we’re headed that way. Every time we see news stories about mass shootings and end up setting a record for buying millions and millions of guns we have to realize that we’re a fearful nation trusting in the weapon that causes us to fear to save us from the thing that we fear.
Then again, my state has a big gun culture, ethical hunters, and despite the fact that we set a record for buying up guns in 2012, the countryside is a pretty peaceful place. Sure, the cities, as all cities do – have their problems from time to time. Still, it’s hardly a war-zone out here. I don’t think it’s because of our guns or the odds that half of the state is armed that makes us good people. It’s the fact that we’re good people means that we don’t resort to our guns. Hopefully we will come to realize that because we’re good people, we don’t even need guns at all. Ultimately, the stalemate won’t last. Eventually we will say ‘never again’ and actually mean it. Somehow congress will pass laws. Maybe some people will turn in their guns to be destroyed, or as it is written, “He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.“