When someone refers to a school shooting, the mental image of the assailant would undoubtedly be the same for most people: a teenage loner, complete with trench coat and weapon of choice.
James Reeves, along with the rest of his fourth-grade classmates, share a different image.
Their image is of Philadelphia police officer Vanessa Carter-Moragne squeezing the trigger of her 9mm Glock semi-automatic pistol and accidentally firing off a round into the floor and subsequently wounding 10-year-old Reeves.
While Reeves’ facial wound only required five stitches, his psychological wounds may require much more attention.
A gun, whether it is an ancient blunderbuss or a state-of-the-art Glock, is not a casual curiosity to be passed around a fourth-grade classroom for show-and-tell. It is not a potato chip that looks like Abraham Lincoln or a pet snake.
It was created to kill, which is why those kids should never have had it in their possession.
Neither should Carter-Moragne. Nor should she have a badge or a job with the Philadelphia Police Department.
It is assumed that the first day of firearm training involves the safe removal of ammunition from an officer’s gun.
Step one: Remove clip.
Step two: Remove remaining bullet from chamber.
Maybe she was asleep when the second step was explained.
Whatever the reason, Carter-Moragne had a near-lethal lapse in judgement — a lapse that will not be corrected by desk duty and additional firearm training, unless the class curriculum includes the mantra: “Never, EVER, take your gun out and pass it around a classroom.”
This incident also forces questions about her judgment on the job: Is she safe to have on the streets? Will she be able to use her gun correctly when forced to defend her life?
The answers to those questions could be tragic.
The Fraternal Order of Police felt the incident was an accident, and that it did not warrant her termination. What a surprise.
The police are supposed to protect people, not put them in harm’s way. This was not a case of mistaken identity resulting in a false arrest or damaging a squad car during a high-speed chase.
Those are accidents deserving nothing more than reprimands.
Carter-Moragne gave children a loaded gun — she should be fired, simple as that.
The FOP said that Carter-Moragne gave the kids the gun to teach them about gun safety.
Her bungling ruined what could have been a very positive interaction with students.
Now, instead of coming away from their interaction with a respect for police officers, these students have one more thing to be fearful of.
Guns should not be allowed in schools, period. How many times does something like this have to happen before we realize that guns have no place anywhere near children, regardless of who is carrying them.