Second Thought: Wednesday, November 5, 2003
Future Glock

A cautionary tale: Forewarned is disarmed.


Editor’s warning: The following is satire. Perhaps even fiction. Please do not try to adjust your set.

They carry mostly .22s and .25s, the Poppers and Powies “with the special grips for little fists.” Big exception: about two years ago, Lonnie O’Brien—he’s Georgie’s older brother—and, by the way, Georgie’s a nice kid, but he’s been edgy lately, so we need to keep an eye on him. Anyway, Lonnie brought his granddad’s Army .45 the first day of school — his folks couldn’t afford a kiddie pistol. Could’ve fractured his arm if he’d had to fire it. Carried it in a huge holster almost as long as his leg. But the Old Gal — sorry, that’s Principal Oliver—was afraid of the Second Amendment lawsuit she’d be facing if she told him to go home and come back with a more appropriate sidearm. Bad scene — kids making fun of him hauling around that Godzilla of a gun — you know how cruel kids can be. Good thing we had Handgun Safety and Conflict Res that day.

Well, it slid out of the holster when Lonnie got up to go to recess. He was a well-coordinated kid, and he caught it before it hit the floor, but you know what he did with that monster then? He tried to twirl it backward into the holster like John Wayne, and somehow the safety was off, and somehow there was a round in the chamber, and kaboom! Took his right second toe clear off, big hole in the parquet. Janitor was pissed. And you wouldn’t believe the paperwork.

Plenty of paperwork when you have to do an armed interdiction, too. It’s best to take them down with the taser, but sometimes you only have a view of the head and shoulders and you have to go with your beanbag. Can break bones, but kids heal fast. And they learn their lesson, too, because then they aren’t allowed to carry for a month, and who wants to be the only kid without heat, right? I only once in eight years had to use the nine-millimeter.

It was at a different school, slightly rougher neighborhood. Lot of older kids held back — touchy, resentful of being ordered around by a woman. When you sense that a class is getting twitchy, you stretch or make some kind of noise to remind them you’re there. But this one boy, Bobby Castle — fifth-grader even though he was almost twelve and a half — kept mouthing back to the teacher, Miss Day, and she forgot or just ignored basic security and stepped out from behind her pulpit — that’s the safety enclosure — to talk to him, and he whips out his Sig .25 Popper. Of course, I’m up with the beanbag shooter with a clear shot down the aisle, but he crouches and rolls, and both bags miss. Then he’s under a desk, aiming at Miss Day with both hands. I could see his right shoulder, so I shot him in the shoulder, and that took the vinegar out of him, all right.

But it also did a lot of bone damage — be grateful for universal health. Had six operations, and he still was 60 percent disabled. I know this because the mother went to court to get what she could — lord knows she had little enough; can’t blame her for trying — but she’d signed the Second Amen waiver just like all the other parents in the school. She got something because Bobby had been absent during one of the Handgun & Res sessions, but he’d been packing since first grade and knew the risk he was taking.

They transferred me, of course — that’s S.O.P. in a casualty interdiction, even though you’re just doing your job — and they promoted me to training officer.

Some people wonder why the kids so rarely throw down on each other, but that just shows that the system works. Give them a tool, train them how to use it, and then train them to stay calm and polite so they’ll never have to use it. Naturally, they need supervision, and that’s our job. You’ll issue a lot of Time Outs to pull children out of trouble, particularly around holidays when they’re tense and preoccupied anyway.

You’d think that recess and lunch would be much more dangerous than the classroom, what with less structure and a bigger area, but they aren’t. The kids who play first have to give their piece to their buddies to hold, and the buddies keep an eye on each other. Then they switch so the buddies can play. Works very well. And you’ve seen the gun checks at the bathrooms — you have to hand over your magazine and show an empty chamber before you can pee.

Sure, there are trade-offs. Two-thirds of these children are on some kind of anti-anxiety medication. Sometimes you catch a kid with an unloaded weapon and you have to write him or her up — rules are rules. If you’re going to base your security on mutual intimidation, everybody’s got to be a true threat. Parents are perfectly free to send their kids to a gun-free private school if they can afford it. My husband was leaning that way with Loni and Bekki, our twins, but America’s a gun-toting society now, let’s face it. We might not be able to pay for adequate law enforcement any more, but most folks can afford a Powee and a My Little Two-Two for Junior and Sis. My daughters have to learn to walk like Marines in the jungle just like everybody else.

OK. Time for us to Velcro up. Yeah, I know that some of this equipment seems over the top, the black body armor and the mask. But we’re required to wear it, and the kids expect it, too. They get used to us, like furniture, and if we look different from usual, they notice and feel less secure. That’s what it’s all about, feeling secure.

Peter Larsen writes one short story each year, around Halloween. He lives in the San Fernando Valley of California.

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