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Category: News & Current Events / Topics: Crime, Justice, Punishment Crisis Dying and Death News Social Issues Tragedy

The Six-Minute Video Speaks Louder than Words

by Garrison Keillor

Posted: April 6, 2023

Everyone should look at that six-minute video of men moving down the hall of the Covenant School. They don't stop to confer, discuss options — lives are in danger, terrified children in lockdown, and they run forward toward gunfire…


When you look at the body camera video of Nashville cops, guns drawn, dashing into the school, throwing doors open, shouting, “Shots fired, shots fired, move!” and a line of cops moving swiftly down the hall and up the stairs and shooting the attacker, you see men doing as they were trained to do, pursue a killer and take the killer out. From first call to completion of mission: 14 minutes. An expert operation carried out by dedicated public servants. And when you watch members of Congress tiptoe away from their duty to deal with the danger those men faced, you see cowardice in a pure form.

Everyone should look at that six-minute video of men moving down the hall of the Covenant School. Body cameras were meant to guard against police brutality and instead they show pure professional courage — they don’t stop to confer, discuss options — lives are in danger, terrified children in lockdown, and they run forward toward gunfire shouting “Police!” and giving the shooter a chance to surrender. This is something most of us would be incapable of. As for the heartlessness of politicians who decline to say what needs to be said and then carry it out, the language lacks the contempt that’s needed.

What horrifies a person is the coolness with which this is accepted. The Nashville congressman who has sent out Christmas cards with a picture of his family around the tree holding weapons and who said that as a father he was “heartbroken” but that we shouldn’t rush to conclusions and there is a larger mental health issue involved that requires more study. Well, if someone should shoot a congressman I might be heartbroken but I also think there is a larger issue of the callousness of public officials whose heartbreak seems routine and who get to the “but we shouldn’t rush” much too quickly.

I am also waiting for the progressives on the Minneapolis City Council and Congresswoman Ilhan Omar to express full public remorse for their “defund the police” idiocy after the George Floyd killing by patrolman Chauvin in 2020 and the riots that terribly damaged the city. It still hasn’t recovered. If any of them look at the six-minute video of Nashville cops storming the school, running toward an active shooter, her gun going off, cops prepared to take a bullet to save terrified innocent people, I’d be very interested to hear their thoughts about defunding.

I’m an outsider. My dad didn’t hunt nor did any of my uncles. They grew up on a farm. A gun was kept to use against varmints who’d come after the chickens. Grandpa Keillor woke his kids up one winter night to go out and see a silver timber wolf howling at the moon. The wolf wasn’t bothering him and he didn’t shoot it.

After the shooting, I had dinner with a friend who said, “My granddads were both hunters, one a Republican, one a Democrat. They’d be horrified by what we’re seeing today. People walking in and buying an AR-15 as casually as you’d buy a sofa. This isn’t a hunting weapon, this is designed to kill people. Hunters aren’t the problem. Hunting is a sport. You want to make a clean shot in order to gather meat. This is a deadly weapon that’d destroy the meat. This is a problem of crazy people who on an impulse walk into a gun shop and walk out with an instrument of brute force. It’s got to stop.”

The press needs to tell the full story and it hasn’t yet. The woman who did the shooting apparently gave plenty of signals and there is some morning-after wisdom to be gathered from her friends and family. It’d be good to hear from the gun shop salesperson. This shooting didn’t happen in a vacuum. And gun collectors — does their fascination with deadly weaponry now strike them as ever so slightly BIZARRE? And the head of the school, Katherine Koonce, who gave her life for her kids: there is a genuine story here. The 2024 election is a non-story. There’s no there there.

The six minutes are real. Look at the video. And the mayor of Nashville, John Cooper, who said, “Let us praise our first responders. Fourteen minutes, fourteen minutes, I believe under fire, running to gunfire.” An elected official who says the exact right thing. Remarkable.

Garrison Keillor © 03.31.23

America's story teller, known for his heartland wit and wisdom, and for many years as the voice of Prairie Home Companion on NPR. For additional columns and postings, subscribe to

Posted: April 6, 2023   Accessed 168 times

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