One is Too Many

I had a conversation today with a friend about Indiana. The week before I had a conversation with a friend about Texas. Two to three weeks before that I had a conversation with a friend about another school somewhere up north. Several weeks before that I had a conversation with a friend about Florida. Before that it was Las Vegas. I could keep going. I won’t. You already know what I mean. It’s sad that you do.

I’m beyond words. My heart breaks. I’m angry. I’m tired. I’m scared. I’m worried. I’m borderline terrified. I can say everything I’ve already said (and others have said) many times before. After someone comes into a safe space and murders your friends, your response shouldn’t be “No, I wasn’t surprised. Scared, but not surprised.”

I don’t know what else to say. I’ve tried to understand the idea behind people wanting guns. I truly have. I’ve tried to have conversations, I’ve read articles, I’ve done as much research as I can. Nothing I’ve found is worth it. Not a single thing is worth a child’s life.

The second amendment is meant for law-abiding citizens to own a gun for lawful purposes, but when people who are not law-abiding or stable get their hands on a gun or guns, hand guns, rifles, semi-automatics, etc… then there’s a flaw in the system. There is ZERO reason that a man should be allowed to buy 33 guns in one year. There is ZERO reason for anyone to need a bump stock or any other attachment to make their gun fire more rounds than it is made to fire.

Why is a waiting period for gun purchases such a bad thing? Didn’t our parents teach us to wait for the things we really want? What about limits on high-capacity magazines? What is the desire behind not wanting limits? I’m not wanting/trying to change the constitution. I’m not trying to take away anyone’s rights. All I’m saying is, why is owning whatever kind of gun you can get your hands on, in any type of number, so important?

Why is our need to own guns more important than our desire to keep our citizens alive? Why is it more important to own guns than to keep our children safe? Why can’t we have the basic decency to value other people’s lives above our own wants? If we can’t do that then no productive conversation can happen about this or anything else.

Also, don’t come at me with that whole “taking away guns won’t stop crazy people from murdering people.” Yes, I know. But don’t you think it would make it more difficult? And shouldn’t we make it AS DIFFICULT as possible to murder school children? That’s like saying… just because drugs are bad for you, doesn’t mean we should outlaw them. People who want to do drugs will still get their hands on them. Yes… I know, but shouldn’t we make it as hard as possible for people who have a drug problem to get their hands on drugs?

Do you remember what it was like when Columbine happened? Our nation shut down. As a nation, we were in shock. People questioned the safety of schools. People questioned mental health professionals. We grieved for our children who were murdered. We learned as much as we could about the victims. We read books about them. We encouraged our children to keep the faith like Rachel and Cassidy. We grieved for the boys who were troubled. We grieved for their parents. We prayed for them. Our hearts broke for everyone involved. We studied every aspect about it because we never wanted it to happen ever again.

We had a few school shootings, and we grieved, but it was never the same. Then Sandy Hook happened. We never actually froze in shock. We didn’t have the time. Our hearts were broken for a couple of days. We were dumbstruck by the idea that someone would want to murder innocent children. Who would do that? What is wrong with them? Why would someone do such a thing? After a few days, we moved on. The parents never did, I can promise you that.

After that, we went through several school shootings. Slowly, but surely, we were numbed to the violence, grief, and horror. We got use to the idea and school shootings became the new norm. Florida happened. The kids said, “enough is enough.” The kids led themselves BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT THEIR TEACHERS HAD TAUGHT THEM TO DO. No matter what you think about any of it, these kids were tired of their lives being on the line without their consent and realized that the adults in charge weren’t doing anything to help them.

This past week, I changed a basic thing I do in my classroom. I usually have my students come in, place their book bags along the wall so that it’s not in the way of the door (in case of a fire drill) and then they go to their seat. I’ve been thinking about a way to make my classroom even more safe than it already is. After Texas, I was awake until 2am… trying to settle things, trying to have it make sense. I got back to school last Monday, cleaned out a closet in my room, reorganized and rearranged my shelving so that my kids could come in, put their book bags on a shelf in a closet and still have enough room to lock all of them in there. My plan is that if they need to lockdown, I keep both doors to my room locked at all times, the closet with book bags stays locked, the kids get in one of the three closets, I lock them in and then it truly looks like no one is in the room if the lights are off… like it’s just another empty classroom. I stay organized in my room for that reason as well. The cleaner it is, the less distractions there are, the less there is to entice someone into the room. I should not have to do that. Kids should not have to fear that.

You may be rolling your eyes and think that I’m pulling on your emotional heart strings. You’d be right. I am. Because quite honestly… if the children from Sandy Hook didn’t do it for you, what will? I dare you to look at these faces and say that your right to own a gun is more important than these innocent lives. I dare you to say that to their parents. To look at your own children/grandchildren and say that.

If you can honestly do that… If you can honestly say… I’d rather things stay the way they are than wanting to change something that would save more children’s lives… then I pray for you. I pray for your hardened heart.

What is it going to take for us to see that we are doing something wrong? Who is it going to take for us to see that something is wrong with the way we breeze by this unnecessary loss of life? Your teacher son or daughter? Your grandchild? Your own child? Your best friend? My daughter? Me?

“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. – Matthew 26:5
“All Things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. – 1 Corinthians 10:23
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” – Matthew 5:9

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