Tuesday, December 18, 2012

1/4 Of An Inch

Don't pull, just squeeze the trigger.  That is how you hit your target.  That little piece of metal, hugged by your index finger, you only need move it a 1/4 of an inch to change the world.

Whenever there is news of a school shooting I cannot help but relive my own experience as the shooter, almost.

The psychiatrist told me that if I had fired the rifle, I would have "snapped", would have been transformed into a totally different mindset, would have gone into an auto pilot sort of mode where I would be mentally detached from myself, no longer fully in charge of my own actions.  I would have been more of a front row witness, than a perpetrator.

Back in the real world, the police would have been called, their first task would have been to bring an end to me.   If I had pulled the trigger just once, I would have pulled it again. I would not have stopped.  And people would have continued to die until I was dead.

In the Spring of 1977 I was in my first year of high school.  I joined the JROTC and had taken up target shooting.  I wasn't very good at it, but I enjoyed the sport.   In a show of support, my father bought me a rifle to practice with.  One morning, while everyone else was still sleeping, I picked up the rifle, put a box of ammunition in my jacket pocket, and headed to school.

At school, I climbed a short wall, a fence, and found myself on the roof of a row of classrooms.  I walked along the roof until I came to the cafeteria, hoisted myself up to that higher level, and laid in the prone position, looking out over the empty courtyard.  It would be a while before people started showing up for the start of the school day. I waited.

Eventually, some students showed up,  a couple small groups, chattering.  I pointed the rifle at a girl, drew a bead on her, my finger wrapping around the trigger, I took a deep breath.

Then I thought to myself, if I shot now, the few people in the courtyard would scatter and I wouldn't get a second shot.  There would be more people if I waited until the first bell rang.  I put the rifle down and rolled over onto my back.   The sky was a dark blue, spotted here and there with clouds catching the first rays of daylight.  It was beautiful.  I asked God to help me.

The moments passed as I waited for the bell to ring.   The bell, located on the wall a couple feet below my position on the roof, didn't ring.   Or, I didn't hear it ring.   In the distance I could hear people on the P.E field.  I sat up and looked around.  The courtyard was empty, classes had already started.  I picked up the rifle, climbed down off the roof, and made my way to the security guard's office.


  1. Wow, man. Moving. Deep. Thanks for having the guts to share this.