They Shot a 54

We finally had a nice Sunday.  I try to golf every Sunday morning, but the weather has been cold and rainy.  This past Sunday was beautiful and I was at Gleneagles with “Big Muddy” Amstadt.  The course was in excellent condition and my game quickly returned to normal – moments of acceptable mediocrity surrounded my hours of pure awfulness.  I shot a 54 on the front nine. 


Fifty-four.  I hit the ball fifty-four times.  Fifty-four is a lot of anything.  Take a moment to count to fifty-four.  I’ll wait. 

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In response to the devastating shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary this past December, Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President and CEO of the National Rifle Association (NRA) said that “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun”.  He repeated that claim at the NRA convention recently held in Houston. 

We are asked to ignore the fact that there were armed guards at Columbine High School.  We are supposed to believe that the more guns, the better.   

Mr. LaPierre’s arguments make little sense to me since I’m neither compensated by the gun manufacturers nor planning on leading an insurrection.  So I am left to wondering about the wisdom of arming teachers and what measures the schools would need to take to keep the weapons out of the hands of students, unqualified staff or even thieves. 

But my biggest concern would be the very teachers the NRA wants to militarize.  

The NRA wants more of us to buy guns and ammunition.  Lots and lots of ammunition.  And we should all take a gun safety course so that we won’t accidently kill ourselves with one of our special weapons.  Our teachers might get a little more training.  How much training is enough? 

I don’t think teachers and administrators can be given enough training to be safe with a gun in a school. 

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On March 10th two Middlefield police officers pulled over a vehicle in what appeared, initially, to be a routine traffic stop.  It was anything but routine.  James Gilkerson didn’t stay in his car.  He didn’t search for his license and registration.  He decided, for reasons we will never know, to kill the police.  He got out of his car and began shooting at the two patrol officers with a semi-automatic AK-47.  The officers’ bullet proof vests were no match for the armor piercing bullets that he was firing. 

The gunman got off thirty-seven shots.  Both officers were injured.  Officer Erin Thomas was hit by several bullets.  This link will take you to the dash-cam video.  It is very graphic.  The gunman’s last words were “Kill me”.  Was this Suicide By Cop?  Again, we will never know. 

The Middlefield police were caught off guard, but they are professionals and their training kicked in.  Outgunned and injured, the officers shot back and eventually got their man. 

These weren’t two casually trained history teachers.  These were two professional police officers.  It only took them Fifty-Four shots. 

It is a miracle that neither the gunman nor the police officers accidentally killed anyone else. 

Would teachers and secretaries do better under extreme pressure?  I don’t think so.  I think more guns equals more risk equals more accidental victims.  According to the Middlefield gunman had “eight magazines loaded with 40 rounds each of ammunition for the AK-47, a .22 caliber rifle and a magazine of ammunition for it, more than five pounds of gunpowder and empty shells”. He was well aware that the police officers, the ultimate good guys, had guns.  That did not deter him.  When do we ask why an American citizen needs access to that much firepower?  And is it really a good idea?  

I think that the two Middlefield police officers were amazingly brave and performed well under pressure.  I would never pretend that I could do their job.  But fifty-four is a lousy score whether you are discussing nine holes of golf or trying to take out one gunman.  Giving more people golf clubs would only make a slow game slower.  Giving more people guns will only make all of us less safe.