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.