The shooting at my school, and what "unthinkable" means now

Front page of the Austin American-Statesman from May 18, 1978
Austin American-Statesman via Austin Public Library 

In May, it will be 40 years since the school shooting at my junior high school in Austin, Texas. It wasn’t a mass shooting. On May 18, 1978, one of my 8th grade classmates at Murchison Junior High — now Murchison Middle School — walked into a classroom and shot his English teacher to death.

At the time, that was unthinkable. Everything stopped that day as we tried to process it. It was surreal, and it was national news (here’s the New York Times account). Now? It wouldn’t be unthinkable at all. If it doesn’t have mass casualties and kids being gunned down — like Columbine, Sandy Hook, and now Parkland — it barely registers.