Friday, October 02, 2015

Shootings and Their Psychological Aftermath

Today, as I stood before my classes, I made the same announcement each time.
"Starting today, the door will be locked when class begins, so please don't be late."
It's not part of my crackdown on tardiness, which I've always discouraged.
The truth is that the latest school shooting has me a little antsy.
A community college, like the one where I teach. Nine people, plus the shooter dead. Many more wounded, bleeding on the hard tile floors while their friends cowered and prayed for help.
Photo from the New York Times. Click it to go to the story. 

I look at the picture of the students walking out of the classroom with their  hands up, and I recognize them. Not the actual people, but the kinds of students who I teach. Some of them are young, right out of high school. Others are older and chose to return to college. It's still early enough in the semester that some of them carefully pick out their clothes and style their hair, but others, those raising kids and working full-time jobs, feel lucky to get out of the house without jam on their shirts or sleep in their eyes. 
That's why today I announced that we'd be locking the door.
"Is that glass bulletproof?" One student asked as he waved toward the glass in the door.
"No, but it's one more deterrent, one more thing to slow someone down," I said. "If someone knocks, I'll go to the door to let them in. I'm old. I've lived my life."
"Oh, man, that's my dream to take out a shooter," said Joseph, 25, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. 
In Oregon, a Veteran charged the shooter. 30-year-old Chris Mintz was shot six times according to The Daily Beast
"That guy was in my unit," Joseph said. 
Each of my classes has at least one veteran, and they all give me that sense that they would rush a door if a shooter appeared. But I don't want them to have to. They are all young and they survived horrible wars. They should find peace in their school, in their country. 

One of my classrooms doesn't lock with the swipe of my key card, and I don't have a key. I emailed the woman in charge of scheduling and asked my classes to be changed. Within an hour, she had organized it so all of my classes will meet in the same room from now on.  
A room that will be locked because the United States has become a dangerous place, where many people are killed in random gun violence.


Just Me said...

I know, the U.S. has become that place....where young inventive kids excited about making a clock have to be taught that the U.S. has become a place where you cannot take that to school to show your teachers.

Thanks for the post. You were in my thoughts.

Paulita said...

Yep, just another example of how violence and fear have changed our country.

Jackie McGuinness said...

What a shame to have to do this but I don't blame you.
We are lucky that we don't have this kind of violence very often in Canada.

S.M. Stirling said...

Look, excersie the power of reason. What are the odds of a fatal mass shooting? Very low. What are the odds of getting shot by a mugger? Higher, but still low. What are the odds of getting hit by a car? Much higher than either. And you can't get killed deader than dead.

Publicity =/= degree of risk.

Sim Carter said...

Heartbreaking Paulita. I read a stat today that over 1.5 million Americans have been killed in gun related killings since 1968; MORE THAN ALL AMERICANS KILLED IN WARS and that includes the Civil War (500,000 to 750,000) both world wars and Viet Nam.
Yes the odds are low but since we live in a country that refuses to put common sense gun laws and close the gun show loophole in place, a simple thing like locking the door seems like the reasonable (if sad) thing to do.

Louise said...

What a terrible situation it is. I understand your reaction but am saddened that you have to take it. The wider world doesn't understand why your country accepts this state of affairs and lets it continue. Your society and your government are saying to all of these many, many families we don't care enough about what happened to you to change anything. Our "right" to have multiple assault rifles is more highly valued than your right not to be randomly shot carrying out your life. (I do realise that these aren't your personal views and am not trying to be offensive to you- I know that gun politics is highly emotive in America- but from the outside we just don't understand it, and can't begin to understand why the masses don't rise up and do something, anything to try and prevent it from continuing).

Paulita said...

Sim, The numbers are ridiculous. I'm in favor of going even farther than the mediocre gun laws we've been pushing.
Louise, No offense taken. I agree, especially when we can see the results in Australia where you live. It makes perfect sense to protect people from guns. How many lives do we have to lose? Is it really okay for a classful of elementary school students to die?

unclevito said...

How many crimes have been prevented by guns. Poor folks in the inner cities have no other way for protection. You think cops rush into the inner city on a 911 call. Guess again.

Taking guns away from the poor is elitist and cruel.

Guns are here to stay. Tell the news to play down the mass shootings. BTW, they are nothing compared to a typical weekend in the inner city with respect to victims. But I know, newspaper journalists are racist and only like to report when whites are killed.

Nothing we can do about that.

unclevito said...

Australia and other countries have lower shooting rates because of the culture of the people.

Black, latino and Scot-Irish have a long history of violence. Not too many of them in Australia.

Drugs are illegal in the US but they are all around us. You are clueless if you think you can outlaw guns if you cannot even outlaw Heroin. Mexico, Columbia and other countries will send guns here like they have illegal drugs.

Is Mexico safe from shootings? I say that, you, Paulita, are very naïve. Thank goodness we have the second amendment to protect our rights from people like you.

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

I really feel for you and your class Paulita. Such a shame that it has to come to this but I don't blame you. Take care Anne x

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