It's been a few days since the last school shooting in Maryland. The victim, a 14-year-old student, has been taken off life support after being declared brain dead, and has since gone to meet her maker. (There was no word about organ donations, but that's a blog for another day, and actually none of our business anyway.)
The circumstances were tragic enough, and wikipedia describes the shooting
On March 20, 2018, 17-year-old student Austin Rollins opened fire in a hallway at the school with a 9mm Glock handgun, wounding 16-year-old student Jaelynn Willey before exchanging fire with school resource officer Blaine Gaskill, who had responded to the scene. A 14-year-old student, Desmond Barnes, was wounded, while Rollins was hit by Gaskill's return fire and later died at the hospital. Gaskill, 34, is a six-year veteran of the St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office trained in special weapons and tactics. Rollins was previously in a relationship with Willey. The gun Rollins used was legally owned by his father, according to the St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office. Willey was taken off life support on March 22, 2018, after being declared brain dead, and died soon after.
But it's that wee detail that has our NRA friends all a-twitter. The school resource officer exchanged fire with the shooter, and indeed shot him dead in the school
. (Fox link, intentionally.)
The school resource officer who engaged with an active shooter at a Maryland high school on Tuesday has been recognized for his "exemplary judgment" before.
Blaine Gaskill, a St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office deputy with SWAT training who had been positioned at Great Mills High School since the beginning of the school year, immediately responded after being alerted of the shooting, officials said.
"[Gaskill] pursued the shooter, engaged the shooter, fired a round at the shooter," Sheriff Tim Cameron said Tuesday, adding the deputy did everything he was supposed to do during an active shooter situation.
Gaskill contained the situation within one minute of the initial shot being fired, officials said. It's unclear if his round hit the shooter.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Gaskill is a "capable ... tough guy" who "took the right kind of action."
"I think while it's still tragic, [Gaskill] may have saved other people's lives," Hogan said.
But all of the breathless copy overlooks the fact that two students are still dead, and another is injured. No matter what the circumstances, if bullets are flying, everybody has already lost.
There's still no easy answer to any of this. But remember, we've actually done this with air travel. After 9/11, it became impossible to fly with anything sharper than a pound of wet leather. Cockpits have become armored fortresses at the front of the plane. And we're all familiar with cold, dirty airport floors in our stocking feet.
Do we want that level of security in our schools? I'm not sure that society is ready for that kind of change. But we changed aviation culture after we were attacked, so what makes all these school attacks any different?
I'm a long time removed from my school days. I must admit that I simply don't remember any such shootings occurring back during my day. In fact, checking the list of shootings
- they didn't. Oh, there were some here and there, but mostly isolated incidents and one or two persons killed or injured in each one at the time.
There have been outliers, but the first shooting we'd consider as a 'mass casualty' event was at Columbine in 1999. Nowadays, it feels more like a sport, as each shooting inevitably becomes more horrific than the last.
Years ago now, I decided with many others, that if the United States was OK with 20 babies being murdered at Newtown, then the gun issue would never be solved.
Since then it's taken 107 more students to die before we've finally woken up. Stoneman-Douglas won't be the last shooting. (It's already four shootings ago, fercrhrissake) But if it's the last "big" one....maybe that could be construed as progress.