Since Trump is still abuzz about arming teachers — for the second straight day, he played the monkey to the NRA organ grinder — let’s rebut his blather with the help of a combat soldier.
Trump seems to think that a nationwide squad of Second Amendment academics — lured to duty by a boost in pay (“a little bit of a bonus”) — will simply target school intruders and pick ’em off just like the dead-eyed snipers in the movies. Trump naturally thinks it would be that easy, given his zero exposure to firefights.
But Matt Martin, an Army infantryman who served in Afghanistan and took shrapnel in his face and a bullet in his thigh (“the feeling of Arnold Schwarzenegger swinging a sledgehammer into my leg”) seems to know a whole lot more about this topic, about the “fear and chaos” of hostile fire, than Cadet Bone Spurs could ever fit on a handwritten cheat sheet.
Not even the most gun-adept teachers would get a fraction of the training that soldiers receive. Yet Martin says the training he and his fellow soldiers got was still not enough. Trump and his gun lobby masters, who somehow think that trained teachers will magically put down the shooters, should read this soldier’s after-action report:
Someone shooting at you, specifically trying to kill you, is probably the most terrifying life event a person could ever experience. Regardless of training, you don’t know how people will respond in life and death situations until the moment comes. You don’t know how people will react when they hear gunshots. You don’t know how people will react when the person next to them is shot. You don’t know how a person will respond when their task is shooting someone they know or taught. You just don’t know.
And now we are expecting teachers, even with training, to perfectly handle this situation. I say perfectly because anything less could mean even more tragedy and death. This isn’t a movie where bullets always miss the hero. These teachers aren’t action stars. These are average people, who more likely than not, have never come close to experiencing anything like this.
Few people run towards gunfire. Most search for cover. Some can’t function. Fight or flight. Adrenaline floods your body. Time doesn’t exist. Your heart beats outside of your chest. Fine motor skills stop working. People urinate and defecate themselves. Good luck holding steady aim at a moving target. Even the simplest of tasks, such as reloading can become difficult. Your hands shake for hours afterward. It’s chaotic on a level that is beyond comprehension until you experience it …
Members of the military and police spend hours, days and weeks at a time training with their weapons. They train on close quarter tactics with partners, teams, squads and platoons. Safety and awareness is ingrained in you from day one. Dry runs are the norm. You practice and train methodically, going door by door, hallway to hallway, communicating and marking cleared rooms as you pass.
You do this over and over and over. Why? Because no two professions better understand the devastation of a gun when things go wrong. No two professions better understand the actual stress of being shot at and the absolute need to remember and implement the months and years of training for these exact types of situations. The margin for error in close quarters combat, such as a school environment, is razor thin. There is a reason it’s already part of a profession that involves life and death decision making and not placed in the skill set of a high school math teacher …
There are what ifs on top of what ifs. What if during the chaos of an active shooter situation a teacher shoots an innocent student? Are we willing to accept this as a society? What if the teacher is shot (a very likely scenario)? What if the shooter knows exactly who the armed teachers on campus are? What if on a regular day a teacher goes to break up a fight in the hallway and the firearm is accidentally discharged?
According to an FBI study about active shooter situations, police officers who engaged the shooter were wounded or killed in 46.7 percent of the incidents. We’re talking about individuals who are specifically trained to respond to these situations and not teachers trained over the weekend or during summer break …
Politicians who are blasé about the complexity and rigorous training required for these types of engagements and who underestimate the physical, physiological and psychological toll a combat environment brings to those involved, should be forced to place themselves in these types of simulations.
But hey, why would Trump ever heed an actual soldier? Armchair warriors like him prefer the comfort of their clueless certitudes. The NRA is getting an outsize return on its $30-million presidential investment. We won’t know until the November midterms whether they will all pay a heavy price.
Meanwhile, on the upside of life, another shaft of sunlight has pierced the gloom. Amidst all the first-tier melodramas this week (shooting aftermath, ongoing Mueller indictments), you may have missed the news that grassroots Democrats flipped another state legislative seat from red to blue — for the 37th time since Trump took the oath.
On Tuesday night, in deep-red Kentucky, in a state House district where Trump won 72 percent of the vote, Democratic legislative candidate Linda Belcher won a special election. In a landslide. With 68 percent of the vote.
Some Republicans say their latest electoral debacle was no big deal, because Belcher is well known (having served in the state House, pre-2016) and because their own candidate, Rebecca Johnson, had lots of baggage. Which indeed she did. The seat was vacant, and the special election was necessary, because her husband Dan — who’d held the seat — committed suicide in December, one day after he was credibly accused, in an exhaustive investigation, of sexually molesting a teenage girl.
But still, that was quite a margin of defeat — far more definitive than Alabama’s rejection of accused perv Roy Moore. So that’s progress. It apparently didn’t sit well with the local Kentuckians that Rebecca insisted on Dan’s innocence and described the scandal as merely “a high-tech lynching.” And now, in the aftermath of losing by 36 percentage points, she’s blaming “voter fraud.”
Rest assured, if there’s a blue tsunami in the U.S. congressional midterms, Republicans will try the same excuse.