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Aisle Seat: Reading, Writing and AR-15s

By Naomi Serviss / New York City

A distraught young girl on a school bus after the Nashville shootings

When my kids were of school age, their biggest fear was being bullied by obnoxious brats who lived to torment. Those creeps spewed hateful epithets, nurturing their nastiness. Those little brats teased mercilessly.

I spoke to their mothers many times. Deaf ears. One mother told me her daughter was unpleasant to her sisters as well. Not encouraging. A bad seed?

Boys shoved students into lockers for a lark. Always a crowd-pleaser.

Emmy and Ben’s problems seem quaint in retrospect. Attention was paid, but justice was not always served.

So how did we get here? When did we become a country where children are slaughtered before recess? When will it ever end?

Will it ever end?

We’ve become inured to the mass murder of innocents. Classroom horror scenes doused with bloody déjà vu. How did this happen? I blame the National Rifle Association (NRA) and its cohorts.

When did it become normal for children to clasp hands and dash across the street, away from an active shooter school site? This is nuts.

Not a healthy environment.

The trauma will scar these victims for life. How could it not?

Why are weaponized sociopaths wandering school hallways and murdering second graders? Haven’t we seen this wretched movie repeatedly?

Last year in Texas, an elementary school shooting triggered a great hue and cry for tougher gun restrictions. Finally!

Lasted about a minute.

Funny thing is, states led by Republicans ditched that concept and proposed bills to make firearms even more available!

In their insane world, teachers would carry, and college students could hang out on the Quad with a weapon. Tennessee lawmakers seized the moment.

When we thought it couldn’t get any worse this year, a deeply disturbed sociopath kicked the front door in at the Covenant School in Nashville. And all hell broke loose.

The intruder shot and killed, wreaked havoc and destruction. Murder unabated until hero cops took out the unspeakably evil shooter.

You think we learned a lesson this time?

Don’t bet the house.

Republican-led states should be ashamed. Those include Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Texas and Nebraska. Here’s what they want to impose:

  • A limit to gun-free zones

  • Removal of background checks

  • Getting rid of red-flag laws that would remove guns from dangerous people.

Missouri went above and beyond last year. Lawmakers made it illegal for local law enforcement to cooperate with federal authorities.

We’re living in Bizarro World!

Another fun fact: In 25 states, NO PERMITS are needed to carry a handgun-nine more than in 2020.

Tennessee takes the cake when it comes to guns! “And YOU get a gun, and YOU get a gun…..” Most residents are now free to carry LOADED guns in public. Open or concealed. WITHOUT A PERMIT, BACKGROUND CHECKS OR TRAINING!

I sense a migraine approaching. It’s all politics and NRA donors. Follow the money. It’s hiding in plain sight.

Former president #45 appeared personally at the NRA convention in Houston a few days after the school shooting in Uvalde, Tex. If we can remember that far back.

Commercials feature gung-ho gun proponents sporting family portraits with guns in tow. Not a good look. Republican Rep. Andy Ogles’ district includes the Covenant School where last week’s slaughter took place.

Don’t panic! It’s just the Ogles family wishing you a happy holiday
Don’t panic! It’s just Tennessee Rep. Andy Ogle's family wishing you a happy holiday (2021)

In December 2021, Ogles posted a Christmas card photo of his family posing with rifles. The family that kills together….

Tennessee’s shooter, identified as Audrey E. Hale, purchased seven firearms from five local gun stores and used three of them in a murderous rage.

After 2012’s Newtown, Conn. slaughter, lawmakers amended an assault weapon ban, put in place universal background checks and banned high-capacity magazines. Logic and common sense prevailed.

At least once.

Since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, nearly 450,000 students have experienced gun violence in their lives.

With the Nashville deaths, 74 people have been killed or injured in schools across the country this year alone (not including the shooters).

It’s a fact of life.

An abstract Cold War colored my youth. Bombs could fall any minute. So we were told. We cowered under our fifth grade desks. No doubt they would deflect and protect from nuclear fallout.

Scary things have always threatened kids. Sometimes from a family of origin. Raising our kids was an intellectual and emotional privilege.

I fortified my learning with school psychologist workbooks with titles like How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, & Listen So Kids Will Talk.

Amazingly, it worked!

We were simply loving our progeny and wanted to protect them from the world’s evils. That’s what we worried about in the 1980s.

A lifetime ago. Before “active shooter” became part of our nomenclature.

And tiny white caskets became big business.


Naomi Serviss is a New York-based award-winning journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Highroads (AAA magazine), in-flight publications, spa and travel magazines and websites, including



Apr 07, 2023

Two amazing, thought provoking, and frightening articles. Trump and the NRA should be outlawed. I fear for the world my children and grandchildren live in. Keep writing. Someone has to be heard and make a difference.

Nice note on Tony Bennett He makes my heart sing and I didn’t know he could paint.

Apr 11, 2023
Replying to

Thank you so much for your kind comments. They mean a lot.

Tony Bennett has been a master painter for years! So creative!


Apr 06, 2023

Wow! Two articles in Andrea’s remarkable newsletter. This one is hard to read through and too often the subject of today’s news. Being a conscientious objector during the Vietnam era seems tame in current conversations. Too bad there aren’t more people to object to those with no conscience. Perhaps suggesting not to travel or visit those NRA backing states!

Apr 11, 2023
Replying to

Thanks so much for commenting on my hard-to-write stories. I was a "hardcore hippie" in the late '60s and remember many bus trips to march on Washington. I like your boycott NRA-backing states-idea!

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