I get a little weird when these kind of things happen. You know, the shooting thing.
Everyone’s praying for the victims and their families, and you know, that’s a good thing. Prayer good. I’m firmly on the side of prayer. News shows and blogs are all beatifying the people who were on the wrong end of the gun, and demonizing the person who held the gun.
In 1992, a kid in my middle school pulled out a gun in first period science and opened fire.
This was before lockdown drills became common language, and we all evacuated in a panicked herd to the ball fields. Teachers could barely handle us, and rumors flew. Many of us lived near the school, and we gathered our friends and ran home to hide. What else was there to do?
Over the weeks that followed, the truth came out. The boy with the gun had targeted two specific students, who had tormented him with verbal and physical abuse, until the only course of action he saw was to shoot them.
Thank God, this student had crap aim. Both the kids he shot got away with minor flesh wounds, and he calmly gave himself up to police.
When the released the names of the two kids shot, though, well, in such a small community as a school, it’s certain I’d know these bullies. But, I knew them. The week before the shooting, they’d pushed and shoved and taunted me in the cafeteria line, calling me a ‘fat cow’.
The gunman, the shooter, the kid who’d been driven to see this as the only conclusion, was also overweight.
That was a real rough time in my life. My dad was out of work, I was a prime target of bullies for being too smart and too fat, I was in a physically abusive relationship without the experience or vocabulary to understand it as such, and, well, hell, I was 12 years old and hormones are ugly things.
I remember spending many sleepless nights wondering when I’d snap and get a gun out of my dad’s gun cabinet.
I never did, and it’s not because someone got to me, went down a handy checklist of symptoms and isolated me from the school population. We’re talking direct intervention by God, here. People ask me how I know God exists, it’s because I’ve been quite literally lifted from the jaws of Death. It’s not an experience I would wish on my worst enemy.
So when one of these events splash across the collective conciousness, I do the only thing I can. I pray for those who mourn, for those who will never understand why, for the family and friends who didn’t, maybe couldn’t, stop it from happening no matter what the news anchors say, and whose mourning is just as real as anyone else’s. But there will be no cameras at that funeral, no visits from the President.
And I pray for the people who lie in bed tonight, wondering if they’ll be then next to reach for a gun.