Later On

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Archive for February 22nd, 2018

Putting more cops in schools won’t make schools safer, and it will likely inflict a lot of harm

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Radley Balko writes in the Washington Post:

One of the more popular reactions from the right to the Parkland, Fla, school shooting — and from Fox News personalities in particular — is that we need to put more cops in schools. Or to put in armed guards, or retired soldiers, who would in all likelihood be given the same powers as police.

Would it work? Probably not. But we first need to acknowledge something before delving into this discussion: a classroom is just about the safest place a kid can be in America. I realize that’s a difficult thing to accept after an event as traumatic as Parkland. According to a New York Times review of statistics from the Gun Violence Archive, 43 people were killed on school campuses in 2017, 25 were killed in 2016, and 33 in 2015. That includes both victims of mass shootings and conventional homicides (my somewhat-awkward term for homicides other than those from mass shootings). That’s out of about 55 million students attending K-12 schools, public and private. The odds of a given child getting killed in a mass school shooting — or any school shooting — are literally less than 1 in 1 million. The criminologist James Alan Fox points out that since 1990, there have been 22 shootings at schools in which two or more people were shot, or well less than one incident per year. That’s less than one incident per year out of 100,000 public schools and 33,000 private schools. This means that the average elementary, middle, or high school can expect to see a mass shooting about once every 150,000 years.

These shootings are of course incredibly traumatic. That trauma is amplified by the round-the-clock coverage they receive. And, of course, I’m sure that if you know someone who has been killed in a school shooting, these statistics probably mean very little to you. But good public policy should be driven by sound data, not collective trauma. Putting retired soldiers or TSA-like checkpoints in our schools to prevent mass shootings is a clumsy and incredibly heavy-handed solution in search of a problem.

But let’s get back to the important question: Does it work? To answer that question, we need to look at the costs and benefits.

On the benefits side, the answer is pretty unsatisfying — it’s just hard to say if there are any. Part of the reason for this is that, again, violent crime in school is already incredibly low — so low, that looking at actual violent crime statistics is basically useless. School shootings are so rare, there’s just no way to gather a sample size large enough to draw any conclusions. Anecdotally, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School did have a sheriff’s deputy on duty at time of the shooting, but he never discharged his weapon. Would it have been different if there had been four or five or six armed guards? Possibly. But again, we simply don’t have enough of these incidents (thankfully) to say for sure. There’s also a question of public resources, here. Does it make sense to pay a half dozen armed guards to patrol your local school if that school isn’t likely to see a mass shooting for tens of thousands of years?

If we look at nonviolent crime, we do start to see enough incidents to possibly make some comparisons, but because of the nature of the questions we’re asking here, this data can also be pretty confounding. Studies have shown that schools with school resource officers (the common euphemism for cops who are assigned to schools) tend to have more nonviolent crime, but that may simply be because schools that see a lot of crime are the schools local officials believe need SROs. It also seems likely that those schools may not actually have more nonviolent crime, it’s that with SROs around, more of it gets reported.

Because of these problems with the data itself, some researchers instead survey how safe students feel in schools with and without SROs. But this method also comes with problems. Whether or not students feel safe could be the product of any number of things that bear little relation to how safe they actually are. I would imagine, for example, that students across the country feel less safe at school today than they did last week, even though their actual relative safety probably hasn’t changed. This of course is entirely understandable. But we want to make policy that creates actual security, not security theater. Surveys have also shown that black students tend to feel less safe in schools with SROs, while white students tend to feel more safe. This could simply be because black students are more distrustful of law enforcement. It could also be because black students are more likely to live in schools in areas with higher crime rates. It tells us little about the efficacy of SROs.

So the benefits are unclear, and possibly unknowable. But at most they are probably minimal, given how little violent crime takes place at school in the first place. What about the costs?

It seems safe to say that putting officers in schools definitely comes with some costs. Here is the executive summary of an ACLU report published last April:

Every day in our nation’s schools, children as young as five are charged with “crimes” for everyday misbehavior: throwing a paper airplanekicking a trashcan, and wearing sagging pants. In the 2013-14 school year, the most recent year for which statistics are available, schools reported over 223,000 referrals to law enforcement.

A 13-year-old Texas boy who attempted to pay for school lunch with a $2 bill that turned out to be fake faced prison time on charges of felony forgery. In Virginia, a middle school student was charged with assault and battery with a weapon for throwing a baby carrot at her teacher. The criminalization of typical youth behavior has engendered a bizarre reality — students are arrested in schools, places meant to provide safe haven, for behavior that is noncriminal in any other venue . . .

Days after the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, President Clinton cited the first round of COPS grants as a response that would allow schools and police to form partnerships focused on “school crime, drug use, and discipline problems.” In 1998 and 1999, “COPS awarded 275 jurisdictions more than $30 million for law enforcement to partner with school entities to address crime and disorder in and around schools.”

In a nod to the educational mission of schools, lawmakers also asserted that school police would use tactics other than arrests and use of force. Senator Campbell stated that police in schools “would develop or expand community justice initiatives” and “train students in conflict resolution,” a role Senator Lincoln Chafee, a co-sponsor, described as the “most important[]” objective of school resource officers. Members of the House similarly emphasized restorative justice goals and the prevention of police and court involvement. However, as with earlier iterations, the promise of positive support services eased the way for the expansion of policing powers, but the services never materialized. Instead, police, who were neither trained nor certified in counseling or social work, carried on with traditional policing models, addressing perceived rowdiness and disorder through arrests and surveillance of schoolchildren.

The report notes that in 1975, just 1 percent of U.S. schools had a law enforcement presence. Thanks to federal grants driven largely by reaction to school shootings, by 2004 that figure was 36 percent. Today, it’s 24 percent of middle schools and 42 percent of high schools. The report then details how when schools are staffed with cops, administrators grow increasingly likely to defer to SROs, who take a law enforcement approach instead of disciplining kids with punishments such as detention or in-school suspension.

For example, the San Bernardino City Unified School District, in California, makes more juvenile arrests than do municipal police in some of California’s largest cities, and 91 percent of these arrests are for misdemeanors like disorderly conduct. In the Jefferson Parish Public School System, the largest in Louisiana, the Southern Poverty Law Center found that the most common cause of student arrests was “interference with an educational facility.” These findings are consistent with American Bar Association assessments of the juvenile justice systems in many states; the assessments found that school-based referrals and arrests had increased dramatically by the mid-2000s, with schools using the juvenile justice system as a “‘dumping ground’ for youth with special needs.” In one North Carolina county, a full “two-thirds of delinquency case complaints came from the public school system,” and across the state, “[c]hildren as young as six and seven are referred to court for issues that seem clearly to relate to special education status.” Similarly, reviewers in Maryland found that “in interviews, many law enforcement officials across several counties reported a spike in juvenile arrests during the school year due to the presence of school resource officers.”

A 2015 study published in the Washington University Law Review came to similar conclusions. From the executive summary: . . .

Continue reading. There’s a lot more, and it shows that police should not be stationed in schools.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 February 2018 at 6:07 pm

Why guns might be central to American identity

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Very interesting communication quoted in a very interesting Atantic post by James Fallows (which has a lot more: read the whole thing):

One of the pieces that you wrote on Japan that stayed with me was the article on Japanese rice policy. [JF: It’s no longer available online, but was included in my book More Like Us.] The gist of the piece being that Japan goes to great lengths to ensure that the country will always be able to grow enough rice to feed itself.

The result of that policy being that the Japanese pay a much higher price for rice than they would if they just imported it from Thailand or any other South Asian country for that matter.  The premium put on self-sufficiency contributed to the extreme density of Tokyo, the relatively small number of large cities in the country as a whole and the comparably small housing that the growing Japanese middle class accepted.  All these sacrifices made in order to preserve as much arable land as needed to provide for a rice harvest large enough to feed all of the island.The reason for the practice, you noted, is rooted in a famine the country suffered in the 1700s which nearly denuded the country.

That observation stayed with me and it has informed my opinion about many practices common in other countries whose origins and sustaining motive is lost on non-natives.In fact, I think you can see prominent practices in many countries that have these kind of atavistic roots, rituals and traditions where the cost far outweighs any current benefit.  The maintenance of the British Royal pageantry, the extraordinary efforts of the French in defense of their language, bullfighting in Spain which has no parallel in the developed world.

I think that the one feature all of these practices have in common is that they reference something that the citizens of that country see as a symbol of their particular grit.  The “thing” that has been responsible for their culture’s ability to survive in its worst moments. The character feature that modern citizens fear would result in their ruin if extinguished. (There is more than a bit of this in the movie Dunkirkwhich I took as a long homage to the English will to carry on, despite all.)

I’m afraid ours is guns.

After Sandy Hook I wrote a few things supporting gun control on FB that put me in touch with a few people who were eager to defend their adamant pro-unrestricted gun rights views.  We were able, surprisingly to me, to have some extended and civil exchanges.

What I learned from those conversations is that guns and, more specifically, the ability to get and use a gun(s) at any time is, for one’s defense is for many the core of being American.  Against all reason, all available evidence that unlimited access to guns causes more harm than good, the likelihood that you—if you do own a gun—will ever use it in your own or anyone else’s defense, or any of the other thousands of myths about owning weapons, pro-gun advocates will not waver in that core belief. If belief is the best word for it. It is probably more accurately termed a faith.

The gun horror we now endure is a result of the imprinted experience of the 19th-century Indian wars, the vast destruction and death toll of the Civil War in the South and the general distrust and fear of African Americans, still strangers here after more than 400 years.  If you look at regions of the country where these themes are dominant you see the strongest, the most adamant defenders of gun ownership and the sanctity of the 2nd amendment.

If this were an issue for the Northeast and the West Coast, gun regulation would hardly be contested. In the southern, western plains and mountain states, it has and never will have any chance of being adopted.  And, thanks to the 2nd amendment, we cannot, as we are currently doing with marijuana, conduct real time experiments on a local basis.  We can’t even test the truth our assertions….

I am resigned to the reality of living with this gory theater to the end of my days unless something extraordinary comes along to change the landscape.  I still believe that the U.S. is far more malleable than any of the countries cited above.   But, apparently, the grizzly death of 20 small children in New England, masses of people in Las Vegas and 17 high schoolers in Florida just doesn’t seem to have moved the needle.  I’m not sure I want to live to see the tragedy that finally does.

Continue reading.

There are more interesting responses to Fallows at the link.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 February 2018 at 5:28 pm

Posted in Daily life, Guns

The Trump Administration Is a Golden Age for Corporate Crooks

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Jonathan Chait writes in New York magazine:

The Republican Party’s main legislative achievement was to facilitate the direct transfer of hundreds of billions of dollars into the hands of business owners. (The proceeds of the Trump tax cuts are mainly going into stock buybacks, a simple windfall for owners of capital.) But a second, less visible channel is the Trump administration’s program of lax regulation. While the tax cuts spray money at business owners as a whole, weak enforcement of regulations confers a windfall targeted specifically at businesses that cheat their customers or break the law.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has brought dramatically fewer cases and lower penalties under Trump. From last February through September, the agency brought 15 cases and collected $127 million in civil penalties, in comparison with 43 cases and $702 million in penalties during a comparable period in 2016. Likewise, the Environmental Protection Agency is collecting far less in penalties from polluters than it did under any of the previous three administrations:

he Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created to fill in a bare spot in the federal regulatory design: financial products, which are inherently complex and in need of regulation, had been marketed to largely unwitting customers with a minimal amount of oversight, resulting in endemic fraud. Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s director of the CFPB, has called the agency itself a “sick, sad joke.” Just how his vision would translate into practice has already become apparent.

Chris Arnold reports for NPR that Mulvaney forced the agency to drop a lawsuit against alleged loan-shark outfit Golden Valley Lending. Arnold found a Golden Valley victim named Julie Bonenfant, from Detroit, who needed money after a breakup and having her car stolen led to falling behind on rent. Over the course of a year, Bonenfant paid $3,735 to Golden Valley for a $900 loan. “A key backer of Golden Valley was recently convicted of racketeering charges in a case involving another online lender, according to court documents,” reports Arnold.

A spokesperson for Mulvaney told Arnold that the decision to drop the case against Golden Valley, which CFPB staff had spent years building, was made by the agency’s staffers themselves. Staffers denied this wildly implausible defense, and Mulvaney’s spokesperson eventually retracted it. . .

Continue reading.

Corruption, thy name is GOP.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 February 2018 at 3:48 pm

“What I Saw Treating the Victims From Parkland Should Change the Debate on Guns”

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Heather Sher writes in the Atlantic:

As I opened the CT scan last week to read the next case, I was baffled. The history simply read “gunshot wound.” I have been a radiologist in one of the busiest trauma centers in the nation for 13 years, and have diagnosed thousands of handgun injuries to the brain, lung, liver, spleen, bowel, and other vital organs. I thought that I knew all that I needed to know about gunshot wounds, but the specific pattern of injury on my computer screen was one that I had seen only once before.

In a typical handgun injury that I diagnose almost daily, a bullet leaves a laceration through an organ like the liver. To a radiologist, it appears as a linear, thin, grey bullet track through the organ. There may be bleeding and some bullet fragments.

I was looking at a CT scan of one of the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who had been brought to the trauma center during my call shift. The organ looked like an overripe melon smashed by a sledgehammer, with extensive bleeding. How could a gunshot wound have caused this much damage?

The reaction in the emergency room was the same. One of the trauma surgeons opened a young victim in the operating room, and found only shreds of the organ that had been hit by a bullet from an AR-15, a semi-automatic rifle which delivers a devastatingly lethal, high-velocity bullet to the victim. There was nothing left to repair, and utterly, devastatingly, nothing that could be done to fix the problem. The injury was fatal.

A year ago, when a gunman opened fire at the Fort Lauderdale airport with a 9mm semiautomatic handgun, hitting 11 people in 90 seconds, I was also on call. It was not until I had diagnosed the third of the six victims who were transported to the trauma center that I realized something out-of-the-ordinary must have happened. The gunshot wounds were the same low velocity handgun injuries as those I diagnose every day; only their rapid succession set them apart. And all six of the victims who arrived at the hospital that day survived.

Routine handgun injuries leave entry and exit wounds and linear tracks through the victim’s body that are roughly the size of the bullet. If the bullet does not directly hit something crucial like the heart or the aorta, and they do not bleed to death before being transported to our care at a trauma center, chances are, we can save the victim. The bullets fired by an AR-15 are different; they travel at higher velocity and are far more lethal. The damage they cause is a function of the energy they impart as they pass through the body. A typical AR-15 bullet leaves the barrel traveling almost three times faster than, and imparting more than three times the energy of, a typical 9mm bullet from a handgun. An AR-15 rifle outfitted with a magazine cartridge with 50 rounds allows many more lethal bullets to be delivered quickly without reloading.

I have seen a handful of AR-15 injuries in my career. I saw one from a man shot in the back by a SWAT team years ago. The injury along the path of the bullet from an AR-15 is vastly different from a low-velocity handgun injury. The bullet from an AR-15 passes through the body like a cigarette boat travelling at maximum speed through a tiny canal. The tissue next to the bullet is elastic—moving away from the bullet like waves of water displaced by the boat—and then returns and settles back. This process is called cavitation; it leaves the displaced tissue damaged or killed. The high-velocity bullet causes a swath of tissue damage that extends several inches from its path. It does not have to actually hit an artery to damage it and cause catastrophic bleeding. Exit wounds can be the size of an orange.

With an AR-15, the shooter does not have to be particularly accurate. The victim does not have to be unlucky. If a victim takes a direct hit to the liver from an AR-15, the damage is far graver than that of a simple handgun shot injury. Handgun injuries to the liver are generally survivable unless the bullet hits the main blood supply to the liver. An AR-15 bullet wound to the middle of the liver would cause so much bleeding that the patient would likely never make it to a trauma center to receive our care.

One of my ER colleagues was waiting nervously for his own children outside the school. While the shooting was still in progress, the first responders were  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 February 2018 at 3:38 pm

Jiggly coffee sounds great

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It also sounds as though it’s made from jiggly beans, but no. Tautiana Bautista explains in Taste:

How do you take your coffee? Cream and sugar? On ice? In Jell-O form? Walk into any 7-Eleven in Tokyo and amongst tuna onigiri and Calbee butter potato chips, you’ll find coffee jelly—a perky dessert made with coffee-flavored gelatin mixed with condensed milk or heavy cream. In the refrigerated desserts section, it’s sold in a foil-sealed plastic cup with a shot of creamer on the side or in a slightly fancier plastic sherbet dish, filled with jelly cubes and milk with a dollop of cream on top. The simple combination of coffee, agar, and cream is sublime—it’s bouncy and chewy, milky sweet and bitter, creamy yet gel-like.

An array of Japanese desserts are made with agar, a vegetarian gelatin derived from seaweed, including bowls of anmitsu (translucent jelly squares topped with red bean paste, fresh fruit, and black sugar syrup) and mizu shingen mochi (the raindrop cake that went viral a few years ago). So it’s a no-brainer that the Japanese have jellified their cups of joe.

First served in Tokyo at Mikado Coffee in 1963, creator Kanasaka Keisuke marketed it as “coffee you can eat.” Coming from a culture that has so many jiggly, jelly-like desserts, it quickly became a popular summertime treat, soon stocked on grocery store shelves and slapped onto café menus. Even Starbucks caught on, serving its own limited-edition coffee jelly Frappuccino, which garnered tons of online buzz back in 2016. Served with a boba straw to slurp it all up, the drink has layers of coffee jelly, vanilla custard, and frozen coffee finished off with whipped cream.

But coffee jelly isn’t just a Japanese thing. It dates back to the early 19th century and has British origins. The first traceable recipe is circa 1817, when . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 February 2018 at 3:22 pm

Posted in Caffeine, Drinks, Recipes

A Larger Role for Midwives Could Improve Deficient U.S. Care for Mothers and Babies

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The US maternal death rate is shamefully high. Nina Martin reports in ProPublica:

In Great Britain, midwives deliver half of all babies, including Kate Middleton’s first two children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte. In Sweden, Norway and France, midwives oversee most expectant and new mothers, enabling obstetricians to concentrate on high-risk births. In Canada and New Zealand, midwives are so highly valued that they’re brought in to manage complex cases that need special attention.

All of those countries have much lower rates of maternal and infant mortality than the U.S. Here, severe maternal complications have more than doubled in the past 20 years. Shortages of maternity care have reached critical levels: Nearly half of U.S. counties don’t have a single practicing obstetrician-gynecologist, and in rural areas, the number of hospitals offering obstetric services has fallen more than 16 percent since 2004. Nevertheless, thanks in part to opposition from doctors and hospitals, midwives are far less prevalent in the U.S. than in other affluent countries, attending around 10 percent of births, and the extent to which they can legally participate in patient care varies widely from one state to the next.

Now a groundbreaking study, the first systematic look at what midwives can and can’t do in the states where they practice, offers new evidence that empowering them could significantly boost maternal and infant health. The five-year effort by researchers in Canada and the U.S., published Wednesday, found that states that have done the most to integrate midwives into their health care systems, including Washington, New Mexico and Oregon, have some of the best outcomes for mothers and babies. Conversely, states with some of the most restrictive midwife laws and practices — including Alabama, Ohio and Mississippi — tend to do significantly worse on key indicators of maternal and neonatal well-being.

“We have been able to establish that midwifery care is strongly associated with lower interventions, cost-effectiveness and improved outcomes,” said lead researcher Saraswathi Vedam, an associate professor of midwifery who heads the Birth Place Lab at the University of British Columbia.

Many of the states characterized by poor health outcomes and hostility to midwives also have large black populations, raising the possibility that greater use of midwives could reduce racial disparities in maternity care. Black mothers are three to four times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than their white counterparts; black babies are 49 percent more likely to be born prematurely and twice as likely to perish before their first birthdays.

“In communities that are most at risk for adverse outcomes, increased access to midwives who can work as part of the health care system may improve both outcomes and the mothers’ experience,” Vedam said.

That’s because of the midwifery model, which emphasizes community-based care, close relationships between providers and patients, prenatal and postpartum wellness, and avoiding unnecessary interventions that can spiral into dangerous complications, said Jennie Joseph, a British-trained midwife who runs Commonsense Childbirth, a Florida birthing center and maternal care nonprofit. “It’s a model that somewhat mitigates the impact of any systemic racial bias. You listen. You’re compassionate. There’s such a depth of racism that’s intermingled with [medical] systems. If you’re practicing in [the midwifery] model you’re mitigating this without even realizing it.”

The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE, analyzes hundreds of laws and regulations in 50 states and the District of Columbia — things like the settings where midwives are allowed to work, whether they can provide the full scope of pregnancy- and childbirth-related care, how much autonomy they have to make decisions without a doctor’s supervision, and whether they can prescribe medication, receive insurance reimbursement or obtain hospital privileges. Then researchers overlaid state data on nine maternal and infant health indicators, including rates of cesarean sections, premature births, breastfeeding and neonatal deaths. (Maternal deaths and severe complications were not included because data is unreliable.)

The differences between state laws can be stark. In Washington, which has some of the highest rankings on measures such as C-sections, premature births, infant mortality and breastfeeding, midwives don’t need nursing degrees to be licensed. They often collaborate closely with OB-GYNs, and can generally transfer care to hospitals smoothly when risks to the mother or baby emerge. They sit on the state’s perinatal advisory committee, are actively involved in shaping health policy and receive Medicaid reimbursement even for home births.

At the other end of the spectrum, North Carolina not only requires midwives to be registered nurses, but it also requires them to have a physician sign off on their application to the state for approval to practice. North Carolina scores considerably worse than Washington on indices such as low-birthweight babies and neonatal deaths.

Neel Shah, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and a leader in the movement to reduce unnecessary C-sections, praised the study as . . .

Continue reading. There’s lots more.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 February 2018 at 2:51 pm

“I’ve been shot in combat. And as a veteran, I’m telling you: allowing teachers to be armed is an asinine idea.”

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Matt Martin writes at CharlotteFive:

After the most recent school shooting, this time at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a 19-year old gunman was charged with killing 17 people, debate flows freely, yet again, on how to best prevent these tragedies from ever happening. Anyone with a heart can surely agree this is the overall goal. The morning after the shooting, NC State Representative Larry Pittman (R-Cabarrus County) stated that he wants to work with police to train and allow teachers to carry guns in attempt to limit the death and destruction caused during a school shooting.

“We have to get over this useless hysteria about guns and allow school personnel to have a chance to defend their lives and those of their students,” Pittman said during a meeting of the Joint Legislative Emergency Management Oversight Committee, as reported by the News & Observer.

Defending children is a must, but putting a firearm in the hands of even the most trained teacher isn’t the answer. Anyone suggesting this solution has clearly never experienced a situation like the one seen in Parkland because it oversimplifies the complexity of an active shooter situation, especially in close-quarters. It is not as easy as a “good guy with a gun stopping a bad guy with a gun.”

I ask that you take a few minutes to understand my perspective and why I feel strongly about this matter. Before recently moving to Charlotte, I served for three and half years as an Army infantryman, stationed at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks, Alaska, and I deployed to Afghanistan’s Kandahar Province in 2011. By the time my tour was over, I left a place that claimed two members from my company, cost six others at least one limb, wounded over 25 percent of our total force, and left me with shrapnel in my face and a bullet hole in my left thigh. When I saw the news flash of another school shooting I couldn’t help but think of the firefights I had been involved in and how these students and teachers just encountered their own version of Afghanistan.

Make no mistake, the fear and chaos they faced is no different than what my fellow soldiers and I faced in Afghanistan—a fear and chaos that I still remember like it happened yesterday.

“Martin! MARTIN!” is still audible in my mind six and half years later. I turned and saw three members of my platoon pinned down in the field behind me. Their screams still clear as day, as they called for help. A routine patrol in the Panjwa’i District had turned into an ambush, with us taking fire from three enemy positions, some as close as 20 yards (the distance of a pitcher’s mound to home plate). I, along with some of my fellow soldiers, began to return suppressive fire. Just as the first man safely reached us, the feeling of Arnold Schwarzenegger swinging a sledgehammer into my leg rushed over my body. That’s what being shot by a high-powered assault rifle felt like to me.

Assisted by an extremely calm and poised Sergeant, I was able to move to cover in a canal, as bullets cracked and whizzed by my head and exploded in the dirt around me. The sound a bullet makes as it passes mere inches away is another sound that will forever stay with me.

Luckily, or so I thought at the time, a medic was already there to start administering aid. There was only one problem. The medic froze.

The medic, who had spent at least the last year of his life training for this exact moment, could not move. When this news made its way down the line to the other medics, they came to my location and ensured I received proper medical attention.

The bullet traveled through my left thigh, shredded my left hip flexor, moved through my left butt cheek before ultimately stopping halfway in the right one (there’s a Forest Gump joke in there somewhere). Big picture, the bullet missed my colon and spine by a half-inch and traveled over a foot inside my body.

Now, I share this story not to draw attention to my actions during this firefight or as a condemnation of the medic. I simply want to illustrate how even the best trained members of the military react differently when bullets start flying. 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 actually 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.

This what I want you to consider when the discussion moves toward Rep. Pittman’s assumption that allowing teachers to arm themselves is the proper action to take.

“There is barely enough time in the school year to train teachers on basic lesson planning and data use,” a friend who currently works for CMS told me. “So adding weaponry is just so absurd.” . . .

Continue reading. There’s a lot more and it’s worth reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 February 2018 at 1:11 pm

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