We professors and those courses to learn how to defend ourselves from killer students

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The word lockdown it has become commonplace due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but in the United States it is used in many other contexts, one is directly linked to the massacres in schools. In the exercises that American schools are obliged to do, there is the lockdown drillthe alarm that sounds to warn everyone: “Now let’s pretend there is a shooting, ready?”.

I teach at four New York colleges and have students ranging from 17 to 25 years old. Sometimes some grown-up ladies try to get a promotion at work and take extracurricular courses, in other cases I have an elderly person who just wants to continue studying. The average, however, is 18, I’m 33. According to statistics on American school shootings from 1970 to the present, my students and I fit perfectly into another average. It is mainly adolescents aged 17 and 16 who carry out the shootings in the classes of kindergartens, elementary, middle, high schools and universities. Adults, teachers and school staff, are among the first to be hit and have to choose what to do in front of the attacker.

I feel fortunate enough even in the political and human tragedy that is the possession of weapons in the United States. New York is considered among the most rigid on the subject, but however, the ease with which a gun can be purchased is devastating. Thanks to a law called the Safe Act of 2013, where I live, weapons cannot be obtained without checks and there can be delays of up to three months. At 18, you still acquire the right to have a gun or rifle, buy them, sign a form, and walk out of the store, but the most notorious shooting cases have rarely happened in New York compared to states like Texas, Florida, Colorado or Connecticut. .

I have been teaching for five years and every semester, twice a year, I have to do a theoretical exercise on “What to do in case of a shooting in your school”with videos and quizzes but without physical tests.

The first time I turned off the computer after a few minutes from the start of the test and left the house, calling my mother and friends to tell me that I was doing a cross test but I didn’t understand, should I expect murders while I was teaching? The second time around it got worse. I realized that not only did I have to prepare for the eventuality of a former student entering the front door with a rifle, but that it had to be my body that was slowing him down.

The United States cannot be criticized for pragmatism and the ability to make even a narrative compulsory course in the workplace. I guess you do it too, those rather boring hours where you stay in a room and they explain to you that if you work in an office the chair must be ergonomic, every two hours you should get up and take a walk, if the boss harasses you you can report him, etc.

If you teach in American schools you do something similar, they call it Understanding the ABCunderstand the ABC where A stands for Avoid (Avoid), B stands for Barricade (Barricade, hide) and C stands for Confront, the last inevitable step if the situation gets daunting: Face it. They instructed me not to go near the area where the shots are coming from and to create a trench with anything on hand, from desks to backpacks. Then you have to be quietyou must not call for help or yell or sound alarms that could bring the attacker near me, in the meantime I should try to call the 911 or, highly recommended, the use of Twitter to signal where you are, to be the eyes of those who remain outside.

I wrote it, I consider myself lucky to have only short stomach ache every time I am informed of my training and receive a certificate which would indicate my preparation in the event of a shooting, I who have not even seen a weapon in toy format. To other colleagues it is worse. Several users on social networks, in these hours that follow him shooting in Texas where more than twenty children and adults have died, they are telling what their school asks for. In elementary school, children who are not in the classroom are asked to close out of classrooms when the alarm bell rings. They cry, they kick, they beg the teacher: it doesn’t matter, they have to stay outside, they are lost. The trauma these children experience, the way they grow up feeling fear in school, is among the reasons why many senators play the armed teachers’ card.


The common problem of these deaths is a weapon, but the solution continues to be the same weapon according to a large part of American politics which takes very high funding from the NRAthe National Rifle Association. Mitt Romney got over thirteen million dollars from the association, Marsha Blackburn over one million, Rob Portman over three million, but the list goes on.

This morning I got up around eight, looked at the phone for a while, commented on some tweets from colleagues in shock from other American states, then sat down with my coffee and I wondered if I really think I know how to shield, or if I can run in the safest direction when I hear suspicious noises. The answer is: “I doubt it.” It is not true that the use of weapons is normal and accepted everywhere in the United States, as always, reality is much more complex and the death toll, when calculated as a total, is scary here too. I learned this is ABC.

Other stories of Vanity Fair that may interest you:

– Newtown massacre, “Hi Noah, hi Jack”

– Columbine High School 20 years later, the difficult “normality” survived

– Usa, weapons are the leading cause of death among children and young people


Source: Vanity Fair

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