I. Call. Bullshit

In another life I was an infantry soldier. Paid to carry a fully automatic weapon. Trained to kill another human being. Just like in the corporate world, I had a mission statement: to seek out and close with the enemy, kill or capture that enemy, seize and hold ground, and repel attack by day or night, regardless of season, weather or terrain.

I was drilled with thousands of hours of training. I was taught by some of the best instructors in the world. I was given the tools, both mentally and physically, to complete the job. So, was I good at it? I was OK. I wasn't the worst, but I certainly wasn't the best either. Let that sink in. After extensive training I wasn’t outstanding, I wasn’t extraordinary, I was just proficient. Proficient at engaging and killing an armed enemy, proficient at running into a building while under fire and proficient at kicking a door down and wondering what the fu@k waited for me on the other side. At least, what I mean is, I was proficient in a training scenario. Thankfully, although I deployed, I was never tested in true combat. Would I have engaged as trained or would I, like 50% of all soldiers, have frozen and not fired a single bullet on the battleground? We’ll never know.

The NRA claims that to stop a ‘bad guy’ with a gun, you need a ‘good guy’ with a gun. Mmm. I don’t share that view but I guess I can see a shred of logic in their assertion. But is that ‘good guy’ a schoolteacher with, at best, probably a hundred hours worth of weapons’ training? A schoolteacher who presumably pursued their profession so they could be a part of growing good little people into wonderful bigger people? This seems absolutely ludicrous to me.

Let's go to the most recent mass school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Florida, USA. Over the past week or so, I’ve thought frequently of those who were killed, of the survivors and of their parents and loved ones; their unimaginable terror, their deep grief and their fighting spirits. I’ve been in awe of the teachers who took a bullet for their kids and the teachers who comforted their students. I’ve also contemplated the Deputy or school resource officer. He has been publicly condemned as a coward by the POTUS and, in my opinion, unfairly blamed.

Let’s imagine how it was that day. You’ve been a school deputy, for 20 odd years, operating alone in an educational environment where your focus is likely youth drug taking, minor aggression, petty theft etc. You receive reports of a shooter and you move across the school and take up a position outside the building where the horror is unfolding. 


That is the very loud and unmistakable sound of three bullets leaving a semi automatic weapon; a weapon designed for one thing and one thing only. 


To take human life. 


That bullet is traveling at a speed of 930 metres per second.


Where exactly is the shooter? How many shooters are there?


I've seen first hand what happens when one of these bullets rips through soft tissue and bone. 


President Trump declared that he would have run towards that sound, into that building, to help, whether he was armed or unarmed. 

I. Call. Bullshit.

Let me say that again: I call bullshit because, after ten years and thousands of hours of specialist training, I’m not sure I would have run in there to help. Even if I wanted to, would my deepest human instincts have allowed me to move or would I have been frozen? In the army, troops often have to rally one another to go ‘over the top’ and ‘into the fray’. It doesn’t come naturally. This is not Call of Duty on your Xbox. This is not PubG on your PC. 

I won’t even bother to explore the past actions of a then Mr. Trump, but suffice to say that also points to the outrageous folly of his claim.  

There is a marked difference in thinking you'll engage an armed hostile and actually engaging one. Let’s not be distracted from the real issues: Who is on the NRA payroll and what favours do they dispense? Why does any citizen need military grade weapons and oodles of ammunition?  When will licensing and mental health checks be in place? How can we prevent disenfranchised young people from choosing to become school shooters?

The students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas are honoring their fallen mates, bringing new optimism to a problem many of us considered hopeless and doing their school and their country proud. This old soldier stands with them. @Emma4Change #oneless


06 March 2018


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