Is This Mere Coincidence or a Cultural Change?

by Rob Morse

Lots of us are disappointed after the last election. Some of us turned off the news for a few weeks as we recovered. I’ve noticed a series of unexpected pleasant surprises during that time. The seeds of serendipity were planted long before the midterm campaigns began.

Laura Carno had social and political contacts long before she knew about the FASTER program. FASTER teaches school staff to be first responders. The FASTER program in Colorado would not exist without Laura’s hard work and also her network of dedicated volunteers. It is as if these firearms instructors and volunteers were waiting for FASTER to be brought to Colorado. FASTER Colorado called to their passion, and at the same time these volunteers were the answer to FASTER’s need for qualified staff. FASTER Colorado could not have happened 10 years ago. Why was it possible today?

Aaron Boyd also lives in Colorado. He was frustrated by the public’s passive acceptance of mass murder in our schools and churches. Aaron started Bullets Both Ways as a resource to organize, promote, and fund efforts for public defense. The idea was born before Aaron learned about FASTER Colorado and about the original FASTER program created by Buckeye Firearms in Ohio. Bullets Both Ways was an asset in search of a plan. Bullets Both Ways is here now, but it did not, and could not, exist a decade ago.

Carl Chinn was personally involved in defending two religious institutions that were physically attacked. Carl documents violence on church property. He also leads the Faith Based Security Network. After the recent attack on the synagogue in Pittsburg, Carl knocked on the door of his local synagogue. To the synagogue’s credit, the door was locked. His visit was unannounced but Carl pressed the buzzer for entry. “Mr. Chinn, we’ve been expecting you. Come right in.” With Carl’s help, the synagogue had a working security plan that day. This wasn’t an empty outline the synagogue could fill in later, but a plan they started that minute. Local churches provided not only copies of their own security plans, but also provided a number of volunteers who regularly staffed security positions at their church. These outside volunteers worked with volunteers from the synagogue as they learned their new security rolls. This would have been impossible five years ago, but these volunteers pulled a program together in hours.

A few months ago, the School Board in Tamaqua, Pennsylvania voted to arm school staff. The vote was a unanimous 9-0. The board did this without knowing that teacher training programs like FASTER already exist. Pennsylvania state law neither prohibits nor permits armed school staff. The board decided their action was permitted since it wasn’t illegal. They knew that some school districts somewhere had armed school staff and they were going to be one of them. They would not have made that decision five years ago, but now the vote was unanimous.

The Florida sheriff leading the investigation into the murders at the Parkland, Florida high school was against arming school staff. That changed as the sheriff reviewed files from the high school security cameras. The sheriff had timelines from the responding deputies and EMS. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, chairman of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, publicly recommends changing state law so teachers may be armed. The Sheriff would not have reached that conclusion two years ago, but times have changed.

Some people didn’t get the memo. Not Last week the faculty advisory committee at Oakland University in Michigan passed a security plan to issue hockey pucks to students and staff on campus. This was a kinder-and-gentler version of the plan from a Pennsylvania school board who issued a bucket of river-rocks to each classroom. The Oakland U plan was met with widespread criticism.

  • Planning for improvisation isn’t a plan.
  • Unarmed security is a contradiction.
  • Hockey-puck-security is political theater.

At least the faculty knew they needed to do.. something. Would anyone have criticized the intellectuals at Oakland U last year? We openly mock their decision today, and I think I know why.

Today we have high school students who want to learn emergency trauma care as part of their community service activities. That indicates a change in attitude. It shows a change in our culture. No one told these students that they will be their own first responders. Self-reliance wasn’t part of a lesson plan or a test question on a weekly social studies quiz. These students looked at the world around them and slowly drew their own conclusions. That is the definition of a cultural shift. Where did this shift come from?

You did that. Social change is the residual of hard work and persistence. You replied to articles in your newspaper and online. You spoke to your friends and took them shooting. You talked about firearms safety and trauma care with new gun owners. A hundred million handshakes changed the world.

The world is a better place because of the things you did.

Thank you, and drive on.