America, listen to Antoinette Tuff. Please. Thanks to her, this time there will be no funerals with tiny caskets, no candlelit vigils and no families broken by grief.
No one was shot August 20 after a man slipped into an elementary school just outside Atlanta with an AK-47-style assault rifle, 500 rounds of ammo and "nothing to live for."
Not because we listened to gun advocates who said we should arm teachers with weapons.
Not because we took the advice of the National Rifle Association, which said schools should have armed officers.
Not because we heeded the school board directives to make frightening "intruder drills" part of every curriculum.
Probably, a mass shooting didn't happen because the gunman listened to Tuff, the bookkeeper at Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy in Decatur, Ga. Police have identified the suspect as Michael Brandon Hill, 20.
With the calm of an operator on a computer help line, Tuff called 911 as soon as the man entered the school and fired one round into the floor. She kept a conversation going among herself, the gunman and the 911 dispatcher.
She calmed him. She told him that he wasn't alone in having troubles. Her husband walked out on her after 33 years, she said, and she has a "multiple-disabled" son. She soothed that man holding an assault rifle by telling him, "We all go through something in life."
"I'm sitting here with you and talking to you about it," she told him when he mumbled something about no one wanting to listen to him.
As she persuaded the young man to surrender, she said: "We not going to hate you, baby. It's a good thing that you're giving up, so we're not going to hate you."
She offered to act as his human shield, to walk outside the school with him so police wouldn't shoot.
She even told him she loved him, cared about him and was proud of him as he began to stand down.
Are you listening to her, America?
Her 911 call — listen to the whole thing; it's riveting — is a portrait of poise, compassion and selflessness. She was exactly what America is forgetting to be.