We Have Become Insane

From the New York Times, August 8, 2019

This was a story featured in the online edition of the New York Times this morning. And it has really driven home for me how insane and “normalized” mass shootings have become, as if that wasn’t totally obvious already.

Apparently, along with this week’s advice for potty-training a child, we now need expert advice in helping kiddos to cope with our own – and the child’s – fears after a mass shooting. Our country has experienced so many of these gut-wrenching mass shootings that advice is needed?

Allow me to rant a bit here. There are actual solutions to the number of violent terroristic acts involving mass shootings. Licensing and strict registration of guns for example. Or amunition. Yet legislation always seems to be dead on arrival in the hallowed halls of the US Congress. So what happens? Experts offer advice about everything except to address the elephant in the room.

As an educator, I was trained to respond to an active shooting situation during our yearly active shooting drills. Specifically, that meant instructing my 8-, 9-, and 10-year old students how to defend themselves should a shooter enter our school building and/or classroom. We planned to stack classroom furniture in front of our door, throw whatever was handy (like a stapler), hide silently against wall so as to not be visible to anyone looking from the hallway into our classroom interior, and/or run like hell to a “meeting place.” My paraprofessional and I scoped out a closet that I and a mobility-disabled student could attempt to hide in since a sprint out of the building was not possible. We removed the closet bar and brainstormed ways to make that closet a viable hiding place.

So I ask: Have we become insane? The solution to mass shootings is to stop them. This week over 30 families have a huge hole in their hearts where a loved one once lived. Many other families are coping with serious injury that will take weeks to physically heal and a lifetime of therapy to cope and recover, if that is even possible.

Are we to believe that the solution to mass shootings is to learn to live with that fear?

To My Congressional Representatives

I know that I have only one voice. But I have one, and I am determined to use it.

On the four month anniversary of Sandy Hook, we are reminded that nothing has been done to prevent yet another shooting of this nature.  Listen to the family members of the victims in this tragedy. They live the aftermath of our society’s inability to do something. 60 minutes 4-7-2013

Today, family members of the victims of this tragedy will be in Washington, DC. I implore our representatives in Congress to listen – do not rush by arrogantly and claim you are “all set” as one insensitive Connecticut representative does in the video.  Listen, listen to these people who will live with the aftermath of this tragedy for the rest of their days.

We cannot afford to be complacent, afraid of controversy, or stubbornly one-sided in these discussions. This is a complicated issues — along with gun control, we can no longer ignore those who face mental challenges, and yet, through stigma and misconception, are outcast from receiving meaningful help and assistance. We cannot allow, as the NRA has suggested, our schools to become armed bastions.

Something needs to change here. It’s not just Sandy Hook – violence impacts families and communities every day. Read, or at the very least, look at the graphic of mass shootings found this article from Mother Jones.

My own students sometimes come to class – third grade – with stories of guns going off in their neighborhood. They know the difference between a car backfiring and the sound of a gun. Is this the kind of childhood we want for our children?

Please contact your own congressional representatives.  I have.