“If there was an active shooter, you’d all be dead,” Kayleigh, an elementary school-aged girl introduced as an “expert” bluntly tells a group of adult workers assembled in their office mail room for a team building event.

“When you talk out loud, the shooter can tell where you are and where you’re hiding,” she continues. “Sometimes we play the game ‘who can stay quietest the longest’ so we all remember.”

The adults look uncomfortable and about as shocked and disturbed as can be expected that an innocent-looking child is instructing them on how to try and protect themselves by pushing tables and chairs against doors, placing paper over windows, and crouching on toilet seats in the bathroom. Then we see what was likely flashing in their minds as Kayleigh spoke — young children carrying out these actions in a classroom.

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Ahh, guns. As American as apple pie!

Those fancy firearms are right there in the foundational DNA of our dear country. (Or at least, in the Bill of Rights, which was published 15 years after the official Declaration and a few years after the Constitution itself. These things took time, even back then.)

For all our squabbles about the comma placement and the technical and/or historical meanings of the phrase "well-regulated," it's true that firearms have pretty much always been a part of our great nation's rulebook, whether we like it or not.

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I have a mental disorder. This is what happened when I tried to buy a gun.

How does buying a gun actually compare to getting psychiatric treatment? I decided to find out for myself.

It’s 7 a.m., and a police officer stops me at the gate of the only road that leads to Moon Island.

She asks me for my pass, which I scramble to retrieve from my messenger bag in the backseat of the car. Moon Island is a restricted property controlled by the city of Boston, even though it’s technically in the city of Quincy. But this is hardly the most bizarre or confusing part about my day. Because Moon Island is also the location of the Boston Police shooting range, and I’m here to take a target test so I can get my gun permit.

The officer furrows her brow as she checks my range pass, and I wonder if it’s that obvious that I’ve never actually shot a real gun before in my life.

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