"Hey, live feed. Active shooter in Texas."
"Isn't that outside Dallas?"
"Just another example of the government not doing their job."
And then we called attendance.
When I went to college 20 years ago, there were signs up about what to do in the event of a fire. This time? There is no room, hallway or bathroom without an 11x17 placard telling me what to do in case some fucking nutbag with an AR-15 decides to kill me.
We keep hearing "it'll never happen here" and statistically they're right but fuckin' hell, a buddy's daughter lost a friend in a school shooting so statistics or no, that is FAR too few degrees of separation between a statistical fluke and me and my loved ones. You know what I grew up with? I grew up with a constant back-of-the-mind fear that the Russians would get itchy and we'd end up as mohawk-wearing dogfood eaters on the edge of the Great Nuclear Desert.
Forty years. Strangelove, Failsafe, Wargames, Day After, Threads, Road Warrior, the Russians would eventually blow us up. It left an indelible mark on culture and fuckin' hell if the 'boomers didn't wallow in that shit like it was sausage gravy. If you were a kid? You just knew that between AIDS and Andropov there was no fuckin' point in planning for the future.
By the time I graduated high school most of the fallout shelter signs had come down because it had just been accepted that there was fuckall that could be done. It feels like we're getting there with school shootings. But while the 'boomers made sure the whole fucking culture understood that death was coming from Ivan the Terrible, everyone is fucking ignoring the fact that we've raised an entire generation to expect one of their classmates to turn an assault rifle on them sometime.
Friend visiting from Fresno. She's talking about the junior soccer league there. Apparently there was a barbecue and one parent got into a fight with another parent and pulled a gun on him. AT A BARBECUE. Which meant there had to be a meeting. About whether concealed carry was okay at soccer league functions. One faction argued - in all seriousness - "that it just isn't a party until the guns come out." And we have to humor that. Because that's the culture. But if anybody said "it just isn't a party until the tits come out" it'd be national fucking news and someone would be required counseling before they were allowed to work in an occupation around children ever again.
I'd rather my kid be around tits.
When I was in high school I had ready access to weapons. Went plinkin' multiple times a week sometimes. Friends of mine got in an armed standoff because someone made someone else mad. Nobody died. I used to fantasize about walking into a classroom with an AR-15 loaded with blanks to shoot at the ceiling. Never did. (1) I knew there would be dire consequences (2) I cared.
I think the caring part has decreased. When the Russians were going to kill us all, it was about fearing a natural disaster, basically. Nothing we could do. Active shooter shit? If you're at the end of your goddamn rope, and you have no real concept of mortality because you're seven-fucking-teen years old, the choice between popper and poppee is a moral one. And in these here United States, you aren't allowed to say "If you have a fatalistic attraction to tools designed to kill multiple people at once and minimal affinity for socialization and thriving, you are sick and we need to help you." Because if you love guns, you're a True American and if you think there should be not just access controls but oh, I dunno, maybe a concerted effort to disrupt a culture that values the tools of military aggression in the hands of civilian sportsmen... well, you don't understand, you're wrong, and I'm a responsible gun owner why are you punishing me?
It was just as easy to get guns 20 years ago as it is now. By any measure, the murder rate has gone down while the gun ownership rate has gone up. You are much less likely to die by gunfire now than you were then.
But back then, you were a lot less likely to die out of the goddamn blue, for no goddamn reason, by gunfire.
The NRA aren't terrorists. Gun owners aren't terrorists. Gun rights advocates aren't terrorists. But every mass shooter is a terrorist and our country has a hobby that is the proximate cause of terrorism.
Most people will never face a mass shooting. But every school student in America has to prepare for them as if they are, and they have to face the reality that we'd rather they memorize "run, hide, fight" instead of "stop, drop & roll" because a splinter fraction of the populace is concerned that if they give an inch, we'll take a mile and the next thing they know they'll be in fucking FEMA camps.
She was Serbian. She'd lost two houses in the war. Her neighbors had firebombed her house in the country and burned it to the ground. Then NATO had bombed her city and leveled her condo. I asked her which was worse. "The country," she said. "Carpet bombing you don't have to take personally."
The entire country arranged its culture around eventual, impersonal armageddon at the hands of unseen Soviet aggressors. Yet that same generation is perfectly okay with kids wondering which one of their classmates might shoot them in the face some day.
When the Run-Fight-Hide generation is tasked with taking care of the Duck'n'Cover generation, I wonder what they'll do.
I wonder if despite all their triumphs, they'll end up eating alpo on the edge of the desert.
And it takes every inch of my generosity to not wish for it earnestly.