It’s been a long time since I read a piece from Michael Bishop which set expectations quite high for this Nebula Award nominated piece of work. I was disappointed: Heavy handed satire and political criticism (embedding anagramatically names of active politicians) in a comical way disguised as SF. Rattlesnakes are a heavy-handed aphorism for guns, of course. This is where the author comes from and I can fully understand why he has written this story: Michael Bishop’s son Jamie was one of 2007’s Virginia shooting victims where Jamie lectured as a German teacher.
As such, I don’t like the story itself but I respect and sympathize with what the author tries to achieve.
Meta: isfdb. This novelette was published February 2015 in Asimov’s. It was nominated for the Nebula Award.