Fighting back is now the norm in school shootings

“I would pick up a desk and throw it at him.”

This was the line that brought a single tear to my eye and chills down my back.


Watching NBC Nightly News this week, reports of yet another school shooting led the 5:30 p.m. broadcast. Next to me on the couch is Addy. And when our schedules allow, yes, I let her watch the news with me.

I watched the news nonstop as a kid. I want Addy to know what is going on in the world, things that stretch beyond the comforts of Lee’s Summit, Missouri.

And nearly weekly in 2019, one of the nightly broadcasts includes a school shooting story.

The scene is familiar: reporter outside of the school with police vehicles and yellow tape blocking the entrance; footage of terrified and weary students and adults walking outside with their hands on their heads; embraces and tears and terror.

During the commercial, I hit the mute button and had a conversation about school shootings and the drills Addy’s school, Lee’s Summit Elementary, suffers through.

She explained the “run, hide, fight” practices most schools use and then dropped the “throw a desk at him” remark, which stopped me cold.

“Why would you throw a desk at him?” I asked my daughter.

“I don’t want my friends to be dead. And I don’t want to be dead, either.”

Yep, this is where we are. Are you sick to your stomach yet?

I had that same sinking feeling I had that morning of the Newtown massacre. Helpless. A bit hopeless. And not at all convinced that this won’t happen in our community.

I let Addy know that “him” could also be a “her,” which was a little baffling to my daughter. As it turns out, one of the Highlands Ranch shooters this week was a young woman, just 16.

It is absolutely exhausting and maddening to explain over an over again that guns are legal, but they are often unsecured and fall into the wrong hands.

While we can derail into a debate on how all of this unfolds, there is one fact that seemingly isn’t debatable: fighting is the new running and hiding.

When our sons and daughters are labeled heroes for dying in a hail of gunfire, you have to wonder what the hell has gone wrong.

We’ve let our school children horribly down. There’s really no other way around it.

Our kids are teaching us what we have taken too long to learn: that none of this is OK and they will stand up and fight rather than die in their classrooms, hallways or cafeterias.

The realities are like a sucker punch to the nose: waiting for the police means waiting too long and the kid sitting next to you might come to school tomorrow with his dad’s stolen semi-automatic handgun and try to kill you.

In my world, Addy is going to launch a desk at him.

What will your child do when it happens?


Editor's Note: John Beaudoin is a Lee's Summit resident and award winning writer and former newspaper publisher in the Lee's Summit community. Views and opinions expressed in his columns do not necessarily reflect those of Link 2 Lee's Summit, it's employees or any other guest contributors.