I grew up in Levittown in the 1960s and 1970s. Like most gray-haired baby boomers, I remember the “air-raid drill.”
It entailed being escorted out of my classroom, lined up against the cold brick hallway walls, and told to put my hands atop my head so when that nuclear fireball erupted, incinerating anything and everything for miles around us, we’d be okay. I also remember seeing those little yellow signs posted on the exterior of public buildings: FALLOUT SHELTER.
I wasn’t sure what Khrushchev and Brezhnev had against Levittown. But it seemed as if we were a target. Was it our shopping centers? Was it Mr. Gateson, my fourth-grade teacher? Or was my father really not a “sales rep” and instead, an agent of the CIA?
As alarming as those drills were, I remember goofing off in those hallways. Even at a young age, something told us not to worry. Thirty thousand nuclear missiles pointed right at us seemed a distant threat.
Compare that to the threats our children must constantly process: the very clear and present danger of a shooting in their school. So grave that the president of the United States has endorsed training old Mr. Gateson to carry a weapon into a fourth-grade classroom.
Gun lobbyists chant that the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun. Whether that applies to gym teachers I’ve had is debatable. What is not debatable is that the best way to reduce gun violence is to make it harder for people with mental illnesses, criminals and terrorists to get guns.
Facts are facts. This is irrefutable: In the U.S. and around the world, where there are sane gun security rules, far fewer children are murdered in their schools. It’s the exception to the rule, not the weekly “Breaking News.”
Please don’t tell me that’s fake news or alternative facts. People throw out that canard when they have no intellectual leg to stand on.
Why doesn’t Congress stand up to the gun lobby? More than 80 percent of Americans support universal background checks and “No Fly, No Buy.” Republicans and Democrats alike. Even most NRA members.
Here’s why: After votes on gun security measures in Congress were defeated, a moderate Republican who voted against each measure confessed to me how embarrassed he was.
“So, why’d you vote that way?” I asked. His answer: “Going back home with a bad vote on guns is politically nuts.”
When members of Congress are more concerned with nuts with guns, our children and grandchildren will be safer.
Steve Israel’s next novel “Big Guns” may be ordered at repsteveisrael.com or directly from your local bookstore.