James Hayman: Yesterday, July 1st, Georgia’s controversial “guns everywhere” law went into effect. That’s a fact. The rest of what I’m writing today is fiction. And I sincerely hope it will remain so.
Had Pleasant Hills Elementary School been set among the rolling green hills of northwestern Connecticut instead of in an upscale Atlanta suburb, it could easily have been mistaken for the old Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. Maybe that’s what Derek Crosby liked about the place. Its striking similarity to the school where what most people consider the most tragic shooting in modern American history took place. Twenty young children and six staff members gunned down by a young man named Adam Lanza. Slaughtered in cold blood for no apparent reason.
On this bright September morning, Derek Crosby’s goal was to top Lanza’s score. Thanks to the Georgia State Legislature, which had recently passed its “Guns everywhere” law, he was pretty sure he could do it. He would go down in a blaze of glory, his name never to be forgotten. One of the ones the gun haters would talk about probably forever. Like Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold of Columbine fame, James Eagan Holmes of Aurora and, of course, Lanza himself. But Derek was sure he’d be more famous than any of them.
What he liked best about the new law was the part that said a shooter with a permit could carry his weapon just about anywhere he wanted and nobody could say a goddamn thing about it. Not even a cop. Especially not a cop. Yup, he could take his brand new best friend into any bar, movie theatre, library or shopping mall he wanted. Hell he could even take it into Hartsfield-Jackson airport. And, importantly, he could take it into Pleasant Hills Elementary School. Just walk right in with his gun in plain sight and nobody could say a word about it until he started shooting. Which he didn’t have to do if things started looking a little hairy.
In the beginning Derek had briefly considered making Hartsfield his target. Shooting up a bunch of those TSA jerks. Or maybe the whole damned chorus line of unarmed assholes waiting like sheep to go through security. But with all the cops and security in the airport he wasn’t sure he could find a firing position that would allow him to make the numbers he wanted before they took him down. At Pleasant Hills it’d be a whole lot easier.
Of course, the new law required a permit if you wanted to be allowed to take your gun into an airport or school and Derek didn’t have a permit. Had never even applied for one. But it didn’t really matter. Because while the new law required permits, it also stipulated that when you carried your gun into a bar, library or school, no one could question you about whether you had a permit or not. No one could insist that you show them your permit. Weird. It was as if they wanted you to skirt the whole permit thing. Hell with this law, there was no way a shooter could lose.
Derek parked his Ford Ranger in front of the school just before eight o’clock. He watched the last of the school buses drop off the last of the children. Checked out a few rich bitch moms who, after dropping their kids off, pulled out of the circular driveway in their fancy SUVs, Lexuses and BMWs. When the activity outside had slowed to a trickle Derek checked his guns.
His best little buddy today would be his brand new Sig Sauer M400 semiautomatic assault rifle that his friend Bobby bought for him at the Walmart store right here in Pleasant Hills. There’d been a bunch of assault rifles to choose from, including a Bushmaster just like the one Lanza used. But Derek wanted the Sig. Partly because he liked the name. Sig Sauer. It sounded tough. Macho. Not wussy like Bushmaster.
He also liked the description of the Sig in the online Walmart ad. He’d read it over so many times he knew it by heart, “The Sig Sauer M400 Enhanced Rifle, is designed for use in law enforcement, military operations, the sporting field, as well as competitive shooting. The SIG M400 is a true AR platform tactical rifle with unparalleled accuracy. A 16-inch chrome-lined phosphate-coated barrel provides superior corrosion resistance and a 7075-T6 aircraft-grade aluminum-forged lower receiver adds to the durability and reliability that users come to expect from Sig Sauer.”
He sat quietly in his truck for half an hour, the Sig on his lap, thinking about the excitement to come. He knew there might be a few teachers carrying. Maybe a security guard or two. But with the advantage of surprise he could take them out before they knew what hit them. Then it’d just be little kids running everywhere. Little kids screaming and bleeding and dying while he picked them off one, two, maybe three at a time. Maybe he’d start with the girls and then switch to the boys. No. That was making things too complicated. Derek Crosby would be an equal opportunity slayer. He’d shoot without worrying about the race, religion, gender or religious or political orientation of his victims. Derek started breathing faster just thinking about the blood, and the screaming and the little bodies falling everywhere. No one would ever forget his name. All he had to do to have his name go down in history was to top Lanza’s 26 kills by one. He figured with five hundred kids and fifty or sixty grown-ups in the place, that’d be easy. He just had to make sure to keep an eye out for any dumb-ass teacher who was carrying and blast that sucker first.
Derek slipped his secondary weapon, a Glock 17, into the holster he wore on his hip. He stepped out of the Ranger and slung the Sig over his shoulder and walked, perfectly legally, onto the school grounds. As he walked he whispered a nearly silent thank you to the Georgia State Legislature for making today a whole lot easier. He grabbed the handle to the door. Pulled it open. No one could stop him now. He was about to go down in history.