A longshot bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would require psychological examinations for gun owners and a publicly accessible list of ownership is causing a stir with Second Amendment advocates. The bill, sponsored by Houston Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, is named after Sabika Sheikh, a Pakistani exchange student killed in the 2018 massacre at Houston’s Santa Fe High School. Ten miles from the U.S.-Mexico border, in El Paso, a raid is unfolding. Guns are drawn, rooms are cleared, orders are barked. But these “guns” are plastic replicas, these rooms’ walls are adorned with dry erase boards, and these orders aren’t coming from seasoned law enforcement personnel but from teens wearing vests and helmets. One of them – a boy who was maybe finishing an algebra equation or analyzing Homer’s “Odyssey” an hour beforehand – yells at someone to put down their phone, briefly stumbling on his words. Is it just a mental hiccup, or a sign of deeper-rooted hesitation?
In essence, that’s the question being explored in journalist-turned-director Maisie Crow’s “At the Ready,” a revealing documentary that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last weekend and which serves to remind its audience that ostensibly binary circumstances are almost always flecked with shades of grey. And at Horizon High School’s Criminal Justice Club, where former law enforcement officers and Border Patrol agents lead interested teens – many of whom, if not most, have a Mexican-American background – through the basics of conducting drug raids and confronting potential criminals, the grey is applied in thick layers. But many of these kids have also been afforded the opportunity of political shortsightedness that comes with being a high school senior, and it’s here where Crow’s movie sources its wellspring of natural intrigue—where individual virtues that you may assume to be cut-and-dry are, in reality, cut and folded and tightened into a ball and paper-mâchéd over. [full article]