That was my takeaway from the most recent school shooting. That was how long it took for a student at Saugus High in Santa Clarita, California to kill two of his classmates, wound three others, and then turned the gun on himself. The shooter had just turned sixteen.
Maybe there's something there. More likely it's just a terrible coincidence.
You will spend more time reading this blog than it took for that teenager to end three lives and change those of hundreds more. It takes thirty seconds to order a meal online. Texting your mom takes longer than sixteen seconds, if you go beyond just the emojis. There were plenty of students at Saugus High who took the time to do just that as they waited for the all clear, long after the shots had all been fired. Three off-duty officers from local law enforcement were first to respond to the incident. Because they were at the school dropping off their kids. These brave individuals did not hesitate. They rushed back into the school right after the shooting began.
"Don't Walk" signs count you down from fifteen seconds to get you across the street safely.
Go ahead. Count off "sixteen Mississippi" in your head. It would take anyone that long just to figure out where the shots were coming from.
And here's another thing that takes more than sixteen seconds: Conducting a lockdown drill. Many of the students who escaped had stories to relate, many of them included their relief that they had prepared for such an event. Practice makes perfect. It could be that lives were saved because of that preparation. Or maybe not, since the killer saved the last bullet in his gun for himself. When he ran out of ammo, he was done. Sixteen seconds is how long it takes to change a community forever.
Santa Clarita joins a seemingly never-ending list of cities that bear the hurt of being the site of a mass shooting. It took less than half a minute. It took just over a quarter of a minute. Usain Bolt can run one hundred meters in less time, but not the rest of us. We would still be standing in the doorway, looking back at the carnage that just erupted before the school day had even begun.
It's just not enough time.
Or maybe it's too much.
It's all too much.