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Anniversary of Sandy Hook: To the next school shooter

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I remember where I was on December 14, 2012.

I was two weeks into a new job as a school psychologist and attending a class in Psychological First Aid, a model of caring for survivors of disasters that is used by many response agencies. The class broke for lunch and when we came back, we heard about the murders at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

What happened there was horrible.

What is also horrible is that the next shooter is out there, studying and planning. He’s collecting his weapons and he’s chosen his target, the school and maybe even specific persons there, and his preferred day and time.

He’s studied the methods of previous school shooters, learned from their “successes” and “failures” and set their number of victims as a goal, as a record to beat as in a video game.

He knows where he is going, but we don’t. We might be blessed/lucky enough that he will make a mistake – “leakage” – and let something slip or be noticed in time to stop him.

If so, that’s great for his intended targets, but in a larger sense, it won’t matter because someone else is waiting behind him.

We don’t know who that person is, either.

All we do know for a fact is that we lack the political and societal will to act to stop the murder of women and children.

The National Rifle Association, which does some great educational work about safe and accurate shooting and some reasonable advocacy work, also represents the gun manufacturers and your Constitutional right to buy their products.

The NRA used the murders in Sandy Hook as a way to promote the increased sale of guns.

The politicians in Harrisburg and Washington? We don’t need to cite an example of their futility. How do you even choose one from the multitude?

The government is not in charge.

The only person in charge, it seems, is the next shooter.

The average shooting lasts for 8 minutes and 80% of shooters kill themselves rather than be taken into custody and lose control of their lives. For those minutes, the last of his life, he is in charge.

Here, then, is my message to the Next Shooter.

• I don’t want to know your name and I don't want it to become public. I don’t care. You’re just the next Jerk with a Gun.
• I don’t want to know why you did it. I don’t care. You're not interesting to me. You’re just the latest Jerk with a Gun, neither the first nor the last.
• You’re not crazy, not misunderstood, not a victim, not even a monster. Your actions are evil. That’s all.
• The gun in your hand doesn’t make you tough. It makes you a coward, using a gun against women and children, who weren’t trying to hurt you.
• I don’t care about what gun you used, what explosives you planted, what else you planned.
• I don’t even want to know how many persons you killed.
• Oh, I care about the victims, but if I know that then so does the next Jerk with a Gun and he’s trying to beat your record, so I don’t want that information to become public, either.
• If you pick my school, I am going to run if I can and fight if I must.
• You won’t kill me while I cower under a desk.
• If you trap me then I am going to die with every hard or heavy object within reach thrown at you.
• I will suck up your time and your bullets. I will die with knuckles broken on your face.

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