Two-time Purple Heart recipient and author of CharlotteFive’s most viewed story of all time responds to your comments

The CharlotteFive Podcast team decided to take a look at the recent C5 article, “I’ve been shot in combat. And as a veteran, I’m telling you: allowing teachers to be armed is an asinine idea”. This article is the most viewed CharlotteFive story ever, coming in at about 1.8 million views and growing. It also has close to 500 total comments.

We wanted to make sure your voice is being heard, so we brought in the article’s author, Matt Martin, a veteran who received two Purple Hearts and the Army Commendation Medal with Valor during his time serving in Afghanistan, to respond to some of those comments.

Besides the comments listed below, click and listen to hear Martin discuss gun-free zones, guns in schools being a deterrent, potential unintended consequences of bringing guns into schools, how much training he feels teachers would need to make the best possible outcome more likely than a negative one, politicians who think arming teachers would end school shootings quickly and easily, how your body is affected when the bullets start flying, hiring veterans to protect the schools and more.

Here are a few comments and Martin’s responses:

Comment: Arming teachers doesn’t sound rational for a long term fix, but in the NOW there are millions of students, soft targets most, sitting in classrooms across America. Today something tells me that there are indeed guns in our schools, and in the right hands. Not the solution, but here and now what other alternatives are there that immediately address safety TODAY?

Martin’s response: “The number one outcome I’d want to see is not allowing the shooter into the school in the first place. To me the idea of arming teachers is very much a last resort. I think we’re skipping to the end in a very fatalistic way, instead of looking at what can we actually do to prevent a shooter from getting inside a building. I’d much rather have my nieces go through a metal detector or have a clear backpack, so they actually see what’s in it, than be in a room with an armed teacher. There are so many things that can be done to prevent a shooter from coming in and that’s really not where a lot of this discussion has gone. It’s really kind of skipped this. It’s not even talking about preventing the shooting in the first place, it’s talking about ‘well once that shooting happens, how do we end it?’ To me, that’s a big leap.

“I really think that schools can be doing more to look at how the schools are built, what type of improvements they can make and what types of procedures they can put in place that would not allow somebody to show up at 2 p.m. with a bag full of weapons, walk into the school and pull the fire alarm and then start shooting everybody. I think individual school districts should be looking at their policies and procedures as to what allows somebody to actually enter their building. I think if you prevent them from entering the building, then you are preventing them from massacring those who are inside of it.”

On comments that it is not fair to compare his experience in Afghanistan to what happened to the students and teachers in Parkland … 

Martin’s response: “I feel like people making that comment didn’t understand the point that I was trying to make there. It’s not to say that an ambush and taking fire from three separate positions is the exact same thing as a school shooting because there are different types of firefights. However, in every firefight, when you’re on the receiving end of bullets, to me, is the exact same. Your body is going to react the exact same way as you would if you were in Afghanistan or in Parkland. The fear that you have is going to be the exact same, and that’s really the point that I was trying to drive home. It wouldn’t necessarily be the firefight itself, but how people respond to those types of situations is the exact same.”

On comments stating that the shooter would not be able to keep their composure either if bullets were being shot back at them …

Martin’s response: “It’s not necessarily that their body isn’t reacting that same way. Physiology, their body is going to respond the same way if bullets are coming towards them, but this kind of goes back to the violence of action that I spoke about earlier. Where you are the aggressor, you have a level of superiority in a firefight over your opponent. Your mindset is that of an aggressor. You’re going in knowing exactly what you’re trying to do. You expect this to happen. You’re the one carrying this out. You’re the one making this happen.

“That is an entirely different mental state than being on the reactive side of this where you start to hear gun shots and now, how do you respond to that. It’s fundamentally different being the aggressor versus being the person forced to react in this type of situation. People freeze reacting, they don’t freeze once they are the aggressor. It’s not to say that this individual is not feeling a lot of the same things, but it’s that mentality that they are already carrying out something like this. Just because you were getting shot at, you’re not just going to stop shooting.”

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The CharlotteFive Podcast — presented by The Charlotte Observer and powered by OrthoCarolina — is a weekly podcast that aims to get you Charlotte Smart, Fast with fun, interesting and useful news about the city. It’s co-hosted by Sean Clark-Weis and Sallie Funderburk and is a production of the Charlotte Observer and 2WAVES Media.

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Photo: Matt Martin