Stop Those Bullets

It seems that in the United States, it has been assumed that good people should live on high alert.

Several years ago, as a newcomer to the University of Iowa, I signed up for a training course in how to survive and face violent events called “Violent Incident Survival Training.” It is a kind of course offered by the local police in many public and private American institutions. I have basic notions of Kenpo and Capoeira, martial arts that I studied during different periods of my life, so the violence survival course offering was interesting to me. They showed us a video followed by images of terrifying shootings in which they explained that, since the 90s, a phenomenon had been occurring which involved serial killers, armed to the teeth.

The police could not be everywhere to defend us, and, by all accounts, lenient state law allowed almost everyone without a criminal record to buy a weapon. And what weapons! On a table, they had replicas of the most popular guns sold in the city, including semi-automatics, which weigh nothing and are the favorite of psychopaths. I could not believe the scene. The police officer stoically accepted that his fellow citizens, without having graduated from any academy, could buy any weapon. They explained how they had tried to transform classrooms into safe places until police reinforcements arrived to “get us out of hell.” They had barred the doors with a belt and made barricades out of furniture.

In the martial arts part of the lesson, we had to strike a major blow to a rapist´s Adam´s apple and run away. The important thing here was to have fast reflexes and throw books and blunt objects at a madman shooting us. Apparently, we have more chances to save ourselves if we all attack a shooter at once and if the killer does not expect it, especially if we are cornered in a classroom and he has managed to enter. They recommended being seated or placed facing the door, living in a state of permanent readiness and being aware that such subjects exist within the American landscape.

The poor people from the Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs did not have time to react and throw their Bible, purses, cellphones and shoes at the murderer. They missed the workshop where they were taught how to confound perturbed assailants with semi-automatic rifles, because apparently good people should live in a permanent state of alert. And all to please some politicians who are unable to reach agreement and create new laws that adjust and control the reality of guns which look nothing like the ones from the American Old West.

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