Conducting Fear-Free Student Safety Drills the CumberGuns Way

Straight off the bat I want to thank the Cumberland County School Board for letting me speak tonight.

You know me. I’m Barry. I’m a parent. I’m an ex-husband. I’m also the Deputy Director of the Cumberland Citizen’s Committee for Responsible Gun Ownership, or as we’re better known: CumberGuns.

And I’m here to talk about how to quell fear and anxiety in our schoolchildren as we implement our new ‘lockdown’ drills here in the Cumberland schools.

Okay, first off: instead of lockdown, I prefer the term ‘silent safety drill.’ Let’s focus on the positive, which is keeping the child safe.

Second, from whom are we keeping the child safe? Let’s say: ‘dangerous intruder.’ Let’s try and avoid the term: ‘active shooter.’ Why? Scares kids!

The word ‘shooter’ scares kids. Of course it does. Every media outlet in this country’s been going out of its way to demonize every act of gun violence as a ‘shooting.’ Every time some nutjob uses a firearm in an irresponsibly lethal manner it’s: “he’s a shooter. There’s an active shooter.”

When somebody runs somebody over with their car, they call it ‘manslaughter.’ They don’t call it a ‘carring.’’ They aren’t like, “Somebody got killed with a car, let’s get rid of all the cars.”

But every time somebody gets killed with a gun? The problem is guns. OK! Great logic, New York Times. I can see that you have no agenda to speak of, the internet. Gotcha. Wink wink.

Alright. I can’t let myself get sidetracked here.

At CumberGuns, we encourage you to make your safety drill fun for kids by presenting it as a game. To that end, I’ve distributed an informational leaflet detailing a school safety game that I’ve developed called: ‘Big Government against Concerned Citizens.’

Here’s what you do: huddle up all the children and say, “Look here, kids. Big Government has caught wind that Cumberland students have been exercising their constitutional rights and now he’s really angry and he’s come into the school to take away your freedom.”

Then lock the door and have the kids get under their desks and then say, “Hey kids, now, don’t make any noise. Because if Big Government notices you, he’s gonna come into the room with his ‘weapon,’ which is called the ‘mainstream media,’ and steal all your liberties.”

Oooh. That’ll wake ’em up, won’t it? And, it’s a great lesson to the children that there are scarier things afoot, in the back rooms of Washington DC, at this very moment, than one madman breaking into a school.

One of the great tragedies resulting from school-based-madman-inflicted-atrocities is: many child survivors develop a negative attitude towards firearms.

It just breaks my heart to think of all them little bitty squirts who will never experience the pure, joyful relationship that can only be shared between man and gun. Who amongst us doesn’t recall the thrill he received the first time he felled an animal in the wood? I pity that boy (or girl!) deprived of that extraordinary rush.

Not a day goes by that I don’t recollect the cold, bitter morning when Daddy took me to the range for the very first time.

I remember stepping into that gray stone room. I remember taking in the cement walls, cement floor. It was like a concrete lover’s Disneyland. Empty shell casings were strewn all over the ground like tiny golden severed fingers. I remember the eerie creak of the swaying fluorescent light fixtures, casting a sickly greenish pall across the room. And then: a deafening and totally unexpected series of blasts! I nearly peed! My heart was thumping around in my chest like a frantic bullfrog trapped in a box! My mouth was full of cotton. My palms, as wet as an otter.

Daddy handed me his heaviest revolver, so big I could barely lift it. My eye-goggles, three sizes too big, fell cock-eyed as to render me effectively blind.

Suddenly, over the loudspeaker, like the voice of an angry god, there’s the Range Officer hollering at me, for in my confusion I’d accidentally pointed my gun across the range.

“They gonna kick you out of here!” Daddy’s screaming at me, embarrassed in front of his friends.

I remember squeezing that trigger and the gun kicking back, bloodying my nose. The bullet sparked against the ground a full 30 feet short of its intended destination. Daddy’s flannel-clad buddies shared a laugh at my incompetence. The searing hot shell casing took a bad bounce and scorched my leg. All the while, Daddy’s screaming at me.

“What’s that, daddy?”

I lifted my left ear muffler to hear him. But to no avail. My ears were buzzing like a nest of hornets.

“Control your breathing!” his lips read.

“I want to go home, Daddy.”

“Not until you hit that target,” he said.

We must have squeezed off 500 rounds that morning and well into the afternoon. At long last, Daddy ran out of bullet money and decided to throw in the towel.

I remember driving home in the backseat of Daddy’s Passat. Picking at the ash and crud on my forearms, my fingers still raw from all the loading and reloading. The gunpowder still pungent in my scorched nostrils. My ear drums still sounding like a mob of chattering bats. My nerves still a-twitch. My tiny child body acclimating itself to the development of an unrelenting jumpiness that plagues me to this very day. My notion of ‘recreational activity’ having been permanently and irrevocably changed.

And then home. And another half dozen hours of field stripping, cleaning and reassembling those guns, before, at long last, finally being allowed to go to bed and to slip into a fitful slumber.

Ah, what a day. What a time to be alive. And, oh, how I pity the child deprived of such a day by a government hellbent on trampling all over his constitutional rights.

Hoo-whee, I’m way over time!

To sum up: if you only remember one thing I’ve had to say to you this evening, make it these four things:

Number one: Life is finite. The world is a random violent crazy place and life is naught but a gift spun on gossamer wings that can and will be rent asunder by even the smallest perturbation of the precarious interdependent workings of our organs and internal systems. Gun deaths are gonna happen. OK? That’s just odds. That’s just the law of probability.

Number two: A national gun registry is unconstitutional. Last I checked, it was called the Bill of Rights. Not the Bill of Maybe You Can Do That.

Number three: I forgot three.

Number four: Shit, I forgot four too.

Thank y’all. To learn more visit Make sure you get that spelling EXACTLY correct or you’ll see some things you did not expect. Good night!