The red flag America never sees

At the right time of day, you can hear an elementary school before you see it, and if the air is still and the natural acoustics are favorable, the discordant symphony of America’s youngest students at recess is an auditory blessing.

The beautiful wreck that boils from an attack on playground equipment or a race around it or any of the thousands of other impulses bursting from dynamo bodies and neoliberal minds has a clamorous harmony like nothing else.

There is one school that I walk past almost every day, through the park across the street, and then back across the full range of its architectural footprint. With or without the soundtrack, I’m only looking for one thing – someone who looks out of place, or carrying something that looks out of place, but more clearly, someone with a gun.

From about Columbine (1999).

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There is no school at Richneck Elementary in Newport News, Virginia, this week because last week ended with a first grade teacher being shot in her classroom by a 6-year-old.

“This is a red flag for the country,” said Newport News Mayor Phillip Jones.

Sincerely, Mayor, are you new in this country?

This country did not lose its ugly gun attitude last Friday. It took decades of impatient arguments, millions upon millions of gun lobby dollars, and generations upon generations of bumbling politicians to make a country with more guns than people, a country with less than 5% of the population the world with 40. % of its weapons owned by civilians.

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If the red flag to ask how a 6-year-old got a gun in the United States of America, the better question is probably, “How did he avoid it in the first five years of his life?”

First-grade teacher Abby Zwerner was murdered in her classroom only by the favorable trajectory and ballistics of a 6-year-old child who pulled a gun from his backpack — and maybe that’s why the story got This particular news has bad traction in the media culture. thrown by Prince Harry, Kevin McCarthy and re-jiggering the format of the NFL game. No one died at Richneck Elementary. It was the first school shooting of the year. If the trends continue, we will get 50 or 60 more.

If there is still a red flag to be blown in all of this, it may be the psychological compromise we demand of America’s children to appease the troubled political culture that is fighting the Second Amendment. Some days, many days, the saddest news story anywhere is that 6-year-olds go to school in fear of being shot so as not to violate someone’s desire to own an assault rifle. Some days, many days, it’s hard to tell who the real 6-year-olds are.

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“I was scared,” the fifth grader told one of the cable channels in Newport News. “It was like my first lockdown and I didn’t know what to do, so I hid under my desk like everyone else.”

That’s a terrible way to count your blessings. You got up to 10 before your first lock down.

Ninety-five percent of America’s public schools have some form of active shooter drills, but the youngest kids, the most vulnerable kids, don’t know what to do when someone walks in with a brand-new AR-15. legal The burden on those children is too heavy, unconscious. It’s one thing to worry about your math homework; it’s quite another to see if you remember where to hide when the guy with the gun comes.

The sickest quote I ever saw was something an elementary school kid told his parents about active shooter drills; he hates them because “the good hidden places are always taken first. There is nothing to hide behind. He will be able to see me.”

In America, in the year 2022, gun violence has surpassed cash as the No. 1 killer. 1 young people. Schools, our supposed safe space, have been the scene of nearly 150 shootings since 2018. We went from smoke-free school zones to drug-free school zones, but some days, many days, it seems like we won’t be satisfied until that we will have a school. Free gun area.

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A law professor who runs the Child Protection Clinic at the University of Richmond weighed in Tuesday on what should be done with the 6-year-old shooter. “This is obviously a tragedy on every level,” she said. “As a 6-year-old, he doesn’t even have the intellectual capacity to understand how to create the intent to commit a crime like this.”

No, it doesn’t. But a gun – yeah, that’s it.

One day the sound that a primary school makes before you see it will be different, no longer pulsating with its full color and richness, not exactly full of its usual joy.

There will be no mystery as to why.

Gene Collier is a contributing columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He has been writing about sports, politics and social affairs for newspapers in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia for the past 28 years.


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