There was a gunman at McNair Discovery Learning Academy in Dekalb County Georgia. Shots were fired. Nobody was hurt.
I watched it play out on the news. They showed hundred of children running out of the back of the building, dressed in khaki pants with red or white shirts. They looked so small.
They congealed near the back fence. It is as far as they could get from the building without crossing a street and going into the neighboring subdivisions. From the vantage point of the news helicopter I watched a child turn cartwheels. He didn’t know what was going on. All he knew was that they weren’t in school. Almost always reason to celebrate when you are seven or eight years old.
Some children clustered around the police. By then there were dozens on the scene. Most of them were inside sweeping the building to make sure the man with the gun had been alone. Two or three were outside, perhaps comforting the kids, perhaps interviewing them.
My step son went to that school last year. Wore those uniforms. Played in that field. He would have been there today, had we not moved. Instead he’s miles away, absolutely oblivious to what some of his old friends are going through right now.
We have three children in school. Shootings like this are amongst the things that I don’t let myself think about. It’s isolated, right? That stuff never happens here; it’s always a few states away, happening to someone else’s children. Only sometimes it’s miles, not states. And sometimes, for some people, it’s here.
I have called myself pro gun. I own a firearm. I believe that it is my duty to protect my house, and this is one tool for doing so. I say this without a hint of bravado or romance. It is also not up for debate.
But the gun laws aren’t making me feel safe right now. I don’t know that things like this can be legislated away. Probably not. But we have a problem with gun culture and it’s not going away. We all know Sandy Hook, but how many go down more like the one that happened today, at the McNair Discovery Learning Academy. Nobody hurt, so easily forgotten. Last year there was a shooting at a Middle School. Nobody hurt. I can’t even remember the name of the place, just that it was near us here on the outskirts of Atlanta.
Two years ago we moved from Philadelphia, leaving behind a district that was apparently on the verge of collapse. Six months ago we moved again to find better schools, not knowing that we were literally dodging a bullet. I don’t have any answers. I just know that we can’t count on moving away from every threat.
My heart goes out to the parents of the kids at McNair, and the teachers, and the administrators and staff. Thank god you’re all okay.