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Tim Blagg

Failure in Decatur

School shooting was NOT a victory

In the wake of the nation’s most recent school shooting incident — at the Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy in Decatur, Ga. — we’ve been hearing some real baloney from the legions of talking heads who monopolize what passes for journalism these days.

We’re told that the whole affair was a triumph, because nobody was killed. I heard someone say the other day that it proved that we’ve learned from the massacre at Newtown, Conn. because kids in the school had practiced lock-down procedures and the school’s bookkeeper — who dealt with the gunman — kept her cool.

Phooey.

The fact is that the invasion of the suburban Atlanta elementary school by 20-year-old Michael Brandon Hill was yet another failure of our country to protect our schoolchildren.

Sure, nobody was killed.

But that’s because Hill was really intent on trying to get police to kill him — suicide by cop — and not on murdering children.

Yes, it’s true that the bookkeeper, Antoinette Tuff, did remain calm and sympathetic, and talked Hill down. And that does make her a true hero, as she’s being portrayed.

But consider these points:

◆ Hill had a long history of mental disorders and had threatened to kill people before. Despite that, and despite the fact that after Newtown, there were all sorts of promises made about toughening our treatment of potential threats. Instead, Hill had a typical history of going off his meds and becoming violent ... and had been charged in March with making terroristic threats.

◆ Despite the school’s addition of a door buzzer system, Hill simply waited until someone was admitted and followed them in, carrying an “AK-47-style” weapon made in Romania with 500 rounds of ammunition.

◆ Unlike Massachusetts, Georgia has no law regulating the safeguarding of firearms — gunsafes or other storage places are not mandated. So Hill was apparently able to steal the weapon from an acquaintance who did not have it locked away safely.

So we have a guy with a history of “terroristic threatening” and mental illness, who easily procures a deadly weapon and waltzes into an elementary school with murder on his mind — where’s the progress? Where’s the victory?

The fact is that we lucked out on this one.

We’ve had hours of useless talk and ideas, with very little actual progress, since Newtown.

My frustration is that this incident, instead of being yet another wakeup call, is being viewed as some sort of vindication of our inaction.

One TV story actually said that schools across the country were calling Decatur to get copies of their policies and procedures!

It was a FAILURE, folks, not a victory.

Are our schools, here in Franklin County, safe?

No.

And what are we doing about it? Are we spending the thousands of dollars necessary to make them safe?

No, we’re arguing about School Choice, cyberschools, MCAS testing and busing costs.

Before we have our own tragedy, God forbid, it’s time to get serious.

Blagg has been Editor of The Recorder since 1986. He lives in Greenfield and is a military historian with an interest in local history. He can be reached at: tblagg@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 250.

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