INDIGNITY VOL. 3, NO. 46: Mass shootings and bulk shootings.


INDIGNITY VOL. 3, NO. 46: Mass shootings and bulk shootings.
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How Close Are We to Nashville?

LAST WEEK, ON Thursday evening, we got this email from the principal of our younger son's school:

Good evening parents,

At precisely 4:50 p.m. today, we were required to take shelter due to gunshots heard in close proximity to the school. Two members of the staff observed individuals running after the shooting, and there was a significant presence of NYPD personnel both outside and in the vicinity of the school.

We contacted Officer T—, the youth safety officer, who verified the possibility of a shooting but assured us that there was no immediate danger. However, no one had yet conducted a perimeter check or investigation to confirm this. After our SSA reached out to their supervisor, a perimeter check was conducted and Captain Donohue from the 26 precinct was contacted to officially lift the shelter-in-place order.

Students and after school staff behaved very well. Prof. F— comforted some of the younger students who were at the campus.

We will as a school and as a campus continue to stress with the School Safety Administration to stress the need to add security resources for our campus.

The week before that, on a Tuesday afternoon, we got this email from the principal of our older son's school:

The safety and well-being of all students and staff members at the —— School remains our highest priority.  Toward that end, we are informing you about the shelter-in that took place today immediately following the offsite shooting near our school.  The shelter-in was lifted at approximately 10:10 AM after NYPD determined that there was no threat to our school building, students, or staff members.

In addition, we did not allow our middle school or high school students to have lunch outside today.

During the shelter-in students continued to engage in instruction and there were no disruptions to the school day.  Student dismissal will take place as usual today.

We assure you that every precaution was taken and will continue to be taken to ensure the safety of our students and staff members.  We look forward to your continued partnership as we work together to ensure that our school continues to provide the best and safest learning environment possible for all its students and staff members.

If you have any questions, then please feel free to contact me at  ——@——.org. Thank you for your continued support.

I didn't think about either of these messages at first yesterday, when I saw Nashville and school shooting trending on Twitter. I'd already filed them away as bad things that had come near and gone away. Not all that near, truly, at least in school-safety terms. By the time the gunshots went off outside the middle school last week, our sixth-grader was settled in at home. I'd picked him up more than an hour before that. There's no day of the week when his schedule would have put him out there at 4:50 p.m.

The other shooting, the one near the high school—that was around 10 a.m.. Our tenth-grader was inside the building, behind a tight security checkpoint, with hundreds of other students divided among various different school programs. A kid who should have been in one of those school programs got in a scuffle out on the avenue, two blocks away, and an older teen pulled a gun and shot him, according to the cops. The victim ran to the school building and, word around the campus had it, the food cart guy out front helped him and brought him inside.

So really—practically speaking, relatively speaking—the high school was safe. In news pictures from the crime scene, I recognized the lights in the logo of the cafe behind the cops. It was right across the street from our old apartment. We met the notary to sign the closing papers on our new apartment in there. Come to think of it, that might have been around 10 a.m. The place I usually preferred to get coffee down there was in the other direction, though.

You're still much more likely not to get shot than you are to get shot, right? I don't feel unsafe, or feel like my kids are unsafe, not acutely. New York is a big city, with a lot happening in it. There are fewer guns around here than there are most places. I was looking at Twitter yesterday and someone was trying to make a vile point about the gender identity of the Tennessee shooter, and the name of my old Maryland hometown went by, as an appositive: the Aberdeen shooter. I had to Google the Aberdeen shooting to remind myself about it, and to make sure it wasn't Aberdeen, Washington or something.

Still, two emails about school-adjacent shootings in two weeks seems like a lot. Even if we're not personally in the line of fire. The nine-year-olds in their nice little school in Tennessee weren't likely to be in the line of fire, either.

There are categories for what happened in Nashville yesterday, and for how it was done: a mass shooting, with a shooter armed with assault rifles. These are particularly monstrous events, done by particularly monstrous means, and it's necessary to think about them in those terms, for some purposes. The AR-15 is inexcusable, to make or to own, and everyone who has had a hand in spreading those weapons needs to face earthly justice before they have to face God.

The emails we got weren't about AR-15s, though. These weren't mass shootings, they were just shootings—bulk shootings, the kind this country gets in quantity. Technically the one outside the middle school wasn't even a shooting, since it seems nobody got hit, or if they did, it didn't make the news anywhere I could find it. Put enough guns out there, and more and more of these things will keep happening. Some of us will get emails. Some of us will get something worse.


New York City, March 27, 2023

★★★ The morning was sunny despite the clouds and rain ahead in the forecast. The first person passing on the street was bundled up and hurrying; the window needed to be shut against the chill of the air coming in. By midday a cloud layer was trying to spread over the north but to the south it was clumping into little cloud-wads or being ripped apart. The sun was a little too warm for even the lightest jacket. A man in a puffy coat held up a bottle of cologne, pale yellow in the bright daylight, and tried to get anyone to buy it as he walked by them. By two the clouds had stabilized and closed over the sky, with some brighter creases still running through them, and the warmth had subsided. The sun appeared as a round white spot. On the radar an arm of rain was reaching toward the city but not quite touching it. A egret stood huge and white by the willows in the sealed-off part of the park, commanding the eye even at a distance and in the deadened light. A Bobcat with a pneumatic hammer punched away at heaped-up slabs of paving rubble on the basketball court. The rain kept holding off till after dinner, then came down as if it had been there all day.

Indignity Morning Podcast No. 39: Keep fortifying more potential targets.
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