Adele Elliott: Fired up

January 12, 2013 8:55:52 PM

Adele Elliott - [email protected]


When I was a child we were all terrified of the Russians, specifically, of the bombs from that country, which we believed were aimed directly at my classroom in St. James Major grammar school. We were taught to crouch under our small, wooden desks and bury our heads ostrich-like under our arms. 


I do not claim to have been the brightest child. However, I knew that there was no real possibility that my arms and my flimsy desk could possibly save me from the shards of shattered glass that would be propelled, at super speed, from the exploding wall of windows that faced the baseball diamond. 


My real hope was that I would be one of the first to go. I was more frightened that I might have to pick up dead bodies than I was of actually dying. 


But, if I miraculously survived the bombs, then I was afraid that my classroom would be invaded by Russian soldiers standing next to each desk, rifle in hand, ready to shoot any student that produced inferior work. Ah, the carefree joys of childhood! 


Of course, none of that happened. The Russia that made my contemporaries so afraid no longer exists. My generation grew up to face battles with authority, and drugs, and a world that was changing too quickly, creating great chasms between us and our parents and grandparents. Fortunately, the threat of armed men in the classroom never materialized. 


Now, 50 (plus) years have passed, and there is talk of guns in schools. No longer are we threatened by the possible attack of foreign enemies. However, we are actually considering arming teachers and security guards to protect us from Americans with assault weapons. We are not getting stronger as a nation. We are becoming weaker. 


Parents in Columbus, Starkville and West Point are adamant that their children be safe and protected. School should be an oasis, a place where learning is the only thing that is important is. Are we able to guarantee them that peace of mind? 


We have proven time and again that we cannot protect our citizens. Every time something happens, like Aurora, or Sandy Hook, or the firemen killed in Webster, New York, or any of the hundreds of other horrible incidents of gun violence, there is an uproar, a demand for change. But nothing ever really changes. 


In Mississippi, it is easier to buy a gun than to drive a car or own a pet. No permits or licenses are needed to buy and own rifles, shotguns or handguns. Only handguns require a permit to carry them. Machine guns are legal in this state. 


I am tired of writing about gun control. I am tired of waiting for things to be different. We have proven that we do not know how to keep guns out of the hands of insane people and criminal and fanatics. Arming everyone else is an absurd idea. Yet, people keep spouting this as if it made sense. 


The murders at Fort Hood in Texas proved that, even in a situation where the shooter was surrounded by the best trained marksmen in the world, tragedy resulted. Thirteen American servicemen died, 29 were injured before that gunman was stopped. If those men could not prevent the carnage, how then can we expect teachers and others to? 


We have to face the truth that this country is dumb and violent. We have proven that we are not to be trusted to handle powerful guns. (I am not talking to hunters.) 


I wish I could crawl under my desk and hide my head. These days the Russian threat of my childhood seems less frightening than the horrors we face every day.

Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.