Our boy got home yesterday afternoon. What a joy it is to have a fuller house, a little more mess, a lot more laundry, and less and less food stocked in the fridge as the day goes on.
Today he’s doing the same activity he’s done for the past four years over spring break – assisting our city police department with their “shooter scenario” training. High school and college kids get together with police officers in an empty school building, they’re given scripts to follow, and the action begins. It gives the officers the chance to practice the split-second decision-making required in an emergency, and gives the kids the opportunity not only to run around like crazy, but to participate in something that can actually make a difference. After each day of training, our son comes home covered with bruises (from dramatic death scenes) and leftover splotches from the paintball guns on his clothing, spent but happy.
This experience has led to what I believe are some important discussions our son has had with friends of his who happen to be (as so many Kansans are) rabid gun-toters. Our state is slated to implement college “campus carry laws” in 2017, meaning that it will be illegal for colleges to prohibit students who are of age from carrying guns on campus. Oh, and our legislators are also pushing to have the legal age lowered from 21 to 18.
“Face-palm” doesn’t cover the insanity of this idea.
Brain research shows that the human brain does not fully develop until at least age 25. Before that full development, people are not always able to bring a line of thought to its logical conclusion. They’re ruled by impulses that are not adequately controlled. Many mental health disorders begin to manifest themselves during the years a person is likely to be in college. Suicide rates climb at this age, and there is hard evidence that access to a gun increases the likelihood of a successful suicide attempt. Young adults – unsupervised for the first time in their lives – and guns are a BAD combination.
…But back to those conversations our son has had with some of his peers. One of them took place on Facebook one day, so I was able to observe from afar. A friend of his opined that all “good guys” should carry guns in order to be prepared to stop any “bad guys” who might go on a shooting rampage.
Our son was able to refute this argument, based on his own experience. He’s seen highly trained police officers who GET IT WRONG when they go through the practice shooter scenearios he participates in. Just today, in one scenario, he was playing a janitor holding a cordless electric drill. A police officer stormed into the restroom where he was “working,” mistook the drill for a weapon, and immediately “shot” him with a paint gun.
Even the police get it wrong.
What makes ordinary citizens think they’re going to get it right? (Here I should also mention that last year in our state, a law was passed that allows open carry WITHOUT any kind of gun safety training.)
I liken this “I’ll be the good guy with a gun who takes out the bad guy with a gun” fantasy to Ralphie’s fantasy in “A Christmas Story.” Remember when the criminals in striped pajamas pour into his back yard and he takes them out with his Red Rider Air Rifle? Yeah, he was one tough kid.
In his imagination.
I believe that’s what gun nuts are seeing in their poor, deluded minds.
I’m thankful for this volunteer work our son does every year. And I hope he keeps spreading the word that in the midst of the adrenaline-pumped emergency, not even the police always get it right.