Sign of the Times

duck and cover 2Active shooter incidents are often unpredictable and evolve quickly. In the midst of the chaos, anyone can play an integral role in mitigating the impacts of an active shooter incident. DHS aims to enhance preparedness through a “whole community” approach by providing products, tools, and resources to help you prepare for and respond to an active shooter incident.
~ Department of Homeland Security

Several times a year throughout my years in elementary school, we would have a “duck and cover” drill. It was often portrayed as a tornado drill, since we had lots of those in north central Texas, but we knew that we were really preparing for a nuclear attack by the Russians on the SAC airbase on the edge of town. We would cluster in the hallways away from the windows or cower beneath our tiny school desks — I presumed they had some mystical anti-radiation property — until the “all clear” was called.

The tremendous roar of B-52 engines that rattled the windows on my side of town or the sonic booms from the F-111’s showing off their speed assured us that the U.S. air force was protecting us day and night from the nefarious red tide. And, like fire drills, the tornado/H-bomb drills provided a welcome break from the tediousness of school —we tried not to think about what they really meant.

There was a lot of planning to avoid catastrophe. A quarter of the houses in my childhood neighborhood had storm cellars in case of tornadoes, and some were equipped with a cache of medicine, food and water to survive the post-bombing fallout period. And now, as we have seen with the recent spate of hurricanes and tornadoes, climate change is occurring, whether human-caused or not, and scientists predict greater erratic weather to cause more extreme events.

Nowadays we don’t seem to worry about nuclear attacks so much, but we do train our kids in school to respond to active shooters. Unfortunately, active shooter attacks in schools have actually occurred — whereas the dreaded nuclear attacks never arrived — making today’s shooter drills even more critical and relevant.

Apparently, there has been some progress made in addressing the active shooter scenarios. The drills help, but there is also a resurgence in controls over civilian possession of weapons of war. My automatic shotgun is legally limited to just three shells; my rifle can hold a shell in the chamber and four in the magazine, which is plenty for the hunting that I used to do (even though I’m not a particularly good shot). I find it hard to fathom any real non-military value for a weapon that can fire dozens of rounds in minutes. Accuracy is affected by each shot and ripping off lots of rounds can get expensive quickly. But more importantly, hand-held machine guns with clips that hold dozens of bullets don’t seem to have any purpose other than to kill people — lots of people — very quickly. While we will likely never totally eliminate threats from gun violence, we can and should reduce the amount of shooting that a single person can do with one weapon.

It’s also possible we may also see a resumption in the threat of nuclear attacks. According to The New York Times, “The Trump administration said on Friday that it was suspending one of the last major nuclear arms control treaties with Russia … The decision has the potential to incite a new arms race — not only with Russia, but also with China, which was never a signatory to the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, widely known as the I.N.F.” In addition, The U.S. recently pulled out of Obama-era nuclear arms reduction agreements with Iran and North Korea. We seem to be flirting with a new arms race and a return to the Cold War.

Maybe we need to start up a new program in our schools — a combined severe weather/nuclear bomb/active shooter drill. Alternately, we could just start building our schools to be iron fortresses, capable of withstanding storms, bombs and machine-gun attack. Oh yeah, we should also do that for our churches, Wal-Marts, malls, theaters, stadia, bars, restaurants and all public places.

That would be so much easier than just prohibiting civilian possession of weapons of war, right?

Additional information:
Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Active Shooter Preparedness
David E. Sanger and William J. Broad, U.S. Suspends Nuclear Arms Control Treaty with Russia, Feb. 1, 2019, The New York Times
Steve Tarlton, The Katness Generation, May 22, 2015, Writes of Nature

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