Six-and-a-half years ago, a routine patrol in Afghanistan's Panjwa'i district turned into an ambush.

I can still hear my name, screamed — "Martin! MARTIN!" — as I turned and saw three members of my platoon under attack in the field behind me. We were taking fire from three enemy positions, some as close as 20 yards, the same short distance as a pitcher’s mound to home plate.

I, along with some of my fellow soldiers, returned suppressive fire. Just as the first of our men safely reached us, I was suddenly hit with what felt like Arnold Schwarzenegger swinging a sledgehammer into my leg.


This is what being shot by a high-powered assault rifle feels like.

Assisted by an extremely calm and poised sergeant, I was able to move to cover in a canal as bullets cracked and whizzed by my head and exploded in the dirt around me — another sound that I will never be able to forget. Luckily, a medic was already there to start administering aid to my bleeding wound.

There was only one problem: The medic froze.

This man, who had spent at least the last year of his life training full-time for this exact moment, could not move.

Quickly, other medics came to me and made sure I received proper medical attention. And it’s a good thing they did — the bullet had traveled through my left thigh, shredded my left hip flexor, and moved through my left butt cheek before ultimately stopping halfway in the right one. Big picture: The bullet missed my colon and spine by half an inch and traveled over a foot inside my body. Without the other medics’ care, I may not have survived.

When I heard the news of the Parkland school shooting, I couldn’t help but think of how those students experiences resembled the firefights I had been involved in.

The fear and chaos that the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas faced is no different than what my fellow soldiers and I faced in Afghanistan.

It’s a fear that I still remember as though it were yesterday, the same fear that caused that Army medic to freeze. And it’s the same fear and chaos that every teacher and student will face when confronted with an active shooter, so long as these tragedies continue to happen.

After the Parkland shooting, debate flows freely on how to prevent these tragedies, with many legislators proposing a program that would allow teachers to enroll in training to carry a weapon on school grounds.

The theory goes like this: In the event of a school shooting, trained, armed adults on the premises would retaliate and, in theory, neutralize the shooter before damage could be done.

But as someone who has seen my fair share of close-range combat, let me tell you: It doesn’t work like that.

Regardless of training, you don’t know how people will respond in life-and-death situations until the moment it happens.

You don’t know how people will react when they hear gunshots. Even an Army medic, a person whose full-time job is to prepare for such a situation, might freeze. And now we’re expecting teachers — after being given the most of basic trainings — to handle that same situation perfectly. (I say “perfectly” because anything less could mean even more tragedy and death.)

It’s not realistic.

This isn’t a movie where the bullets always miss the hero. These teachers aren’t action stars.

These are average people who, more likely than not, have never come close to experiencing anything like the chaos and pressure of trying to protect themselves and others under active gunfire.

Members of the military and police spend hours, days, and weeks at a time training with their weapons. They train on close-quarter tactics with partners, teams, squads, and platoons. They practice methodically, over and over and over, for the length of their entire careers.

We’re talking about individuals who are specifically trained to respond to these situations — and even they sometimes get it wrong.

The margin for error in combat is razor thin. Even with the best of intentions, a teacher with a gun can not only fail to protect their students, but they can create a tragedy of their own.

What if, during the chaos of an active shooter situation, a teacher shoots an innocent student? What if the teacher is shot, which is likely (according to the FBI, police officers who engage an active shooter are wounded or killed in 46.7% of incidents)? What if, on a regular day, a teacher goes to break up a fight in the hallway and the firearm accidentally discharges?

The potential collateral damage isnt worth it. There are just too many negative outcomes, all of which are far more likely than the slim chance that a civilian is able to stop an active shooter threat.

My point is not to undermine the bravery of our teachers, but to be realistic about what that bravery can do.

Our country has seen example after example of teachers and students shielding others from gunfire. “Heroic” doesn’t begin to fully explain the bravery of the person behind those actions. But even the most heroic individual, without proper and consistent tactical training, can cause even more catastrophe when armed with such a deadly weapon.

Politicians who are blasé about the complexity and rigorous training required for these types of engagements and who underestimate the physical, physiological and psychological toll a combat environment brings to those involved should be forced to place themselves in these types of simulations. Then, they might understand that arming just anyone with a gun can be much more dangerous and costly than anticipated.

Ultimately, I’m saddened by the fact that we’ve reached a point where people in this country want teachers to arm themselves like moonlight deputies. Undeniably, gun violence is a complex problem we all want to solve, one for which I don’t have all the answers.

But I’m confident that arming teachers isn’t part of it — now or ever.

This story was originally published by Charlotte Five and is reprinted here with permission.

Joy

Man uses TikTok to offer 'dinner with dad' to any kid that needs one, even adult ones

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud.

Come for the food, stay for the wholesomeness.

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud. His TikTok channel is dedicated to giving people intimate conversations they might long to have with their own father, but can’t. The most popular is his “Dinner With Dad” segment.

The concept is simple: Clayton, aka Dad, always sets down two plates of food. He always tells you what’s for dinner. He always blesses the food. He always checks in with how you’re doing.

I stress the stability here, because as someone who grew up with a less-than-stable relationship with their parents, it stood out immediately. I found myself breathing a sigh of relief at Clayton’s consistency. I also noticed the immediate emotional connection created just by being asked, “How was your day?” According to relationship coach and couples counselor Don Olund, these two elements—stability and connection—are fundamental cravings that children have of their parents. Perhaps we never really stop needing it from them.


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Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy asked his Senate colleagues the questions millions of Americans have after a mass shooting.

Another school shooting. Another mass murder of innocent children. They were elementary school kids this time. There were 18 children killed—so far—this time.

The fact that I can say "this time" is enraging, but that's the routine nature of mass shootings in the U.S. It happened in Texas this time. At least three adults were killed this time. The shooter was a teenager this time.

The details this time may be different than the last time and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that. But there's one thing all mass shootings have in common. No, it's not mental illness. It's not racism or misogyny or religious extremism. It's not bad parenting or violent video games or lack of religion.

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Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

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