In 2018, I wrote an editorial for the Observer related to gun violence. At that time, the Parkland shooting was in the news, and while so many of us were frustrated and frightened at the number of deaths that continued to pile up each and every week in this country due to gun violence, we hoped that changes would come about because of the carnage. Not enough has changed.
Recently in Uvalde, Texas, another mass shooting at a school brought into focus again what children, their families and our communities are dealing with on a regular basis. As a former educator with two adult children who are also educators, I can’t help but be frightened and sickened by some of the suggestions for keeping our school children and teachers “safe” in a school – a place where kids should be learning and socializing, not worrying that they might not come home again. Suggestions for tighter school security, more police on site, fewer entrances to the school buildings and teachers carrying guns to school make our schools more like armed camps. All we need are high metal fences and razor wire. We don’t need more security, we need restrictions on automatic weapons.
Even when I was still teaching over 12 years ago, we were practicing shooter drills in school. Turn off the lights, lock the doors, stay away from the windows and huddle silently in the farthest corner of the room hoping that whoever might actually come wouldn’t find us.
Thinking about how I might actually set my room up to make it a more defensive place crossed my mind with some frequency. My room had windows that looked out on a flat roof. Might the shooter come that way? What if one of my kids had gone to the bathroom when the alarm for a drill was made. How would I get them back? Was that a safe thing to do? We practiced and hoped that Suffield was not to be the next Newtown or Parkland. It could never happen here, right? I’m sure Newtown and Parkland and now Uvalde thought the same.
When we as a country have the same love for life that we have for guns, maybe things will change. Maybe support for human life at any stage will be more important than being able to buy weapons of mass killing. But until automatic weapons like an AR-15 are only available for active military or police personnel, we will continue the carnage. We are the only country in the world that experiences this kind of mass murder on a regular basis. What does this say about us a nation?