It’s unimaginable that I am writing another blog about another school shooting. Except that it’s not at all, really. It’s happened so many times in the last decade (the school shootings, not the blogs about them) that it really is quite imaginable. What’s unimaginable, is that people still respond to the news of another by beginning their sentences (posts, articles, etc) with the word “unimaginable.”
Do we really want to change anything? Maybe we could start there. We could stop referring to school shootings as unimaginable. The truth is, school shootings have been recorded as far back as 1840. Yes, 1840. This is not a new problem. It is a problem that we, in the United States have gotten better at feigning shock about, applying blame for, appearing primed for aggressive action against, and then quietly retreating back to our bucolic lives.
If we are not going to address the actual problem - maybe we could at least update our response. Then we could at least feel like something was changing. Then we wouldn’t feel so pressured to rush to our social media for a quick CYA post about our anguish before carrying on with our pedicures or golf games.
Phew, I hope that sounded okay, should I get a Grande or Venti?
If you’re here for any solid solutions, the close button is in the right top corner. I’m lost as well. I have done the text-your-congressperson, attend-the-meetings, write-the-emails, and vote-in-the-elections. Hell, I’ve even bought a gun. Wait, what? Why? Well, I wanted to go through the process. I’ve seen so many misinformed doodles about how easy it was to obtain a firearm that I wanted to see for myself. I also had a child approaching eighteen and I wanted to know what the hoops were that she might have to jump through if she decided to purchase a gun the very day she was eligible. I wanted to be prepared with the right information so that, if the conversation came up, I had informed doodles to offer.
Conclusion? It wasn’t very difficult, no. In fairness, however, I do have a crystal clear criminal record. The only fault with my application was a blip in reporting my height (turns out the background check people do not care about the extra ¼ inch that short people document). Should it have been more thorough? Probably. I have dealt with anxiety since I was a teen - before brain blips were okay to talk about. While my criminal record is a thing of beauty, some might say my mental health record has had some hiccups. If asked, I would say I am fine and dandy - but should that history have been more thoroughly examined?
I’ve not used the gun yet, by the way. I haven’t had time to go to the range yet to spend what I would consider an appropriate amount of safety training time with the range guides. Maybe those are my solutions. Prospective owners should not gain custody of a weapon until they complete a pre-determined set of hours with the safety marshalls learning proper usage and only after receiving clearance from mental health clinicians specializing in firearms.
Or we could just keep rolling with thoughts and prayers.
Those were nice at first, I suppose. Now they’re just lazy. Now they are an admittance that you aren’t really going to do anything beyond scrolling past the horrific news in search of something happier to look at - something that doesn’t involve children strewn across a blood-soaked classroom.
Those children deserve your eyes, not your trivial thoughts and prayers. Maybe if you had offered your thoughts and prayers before, those children would still be with us. Isn’t that how it works, thoughts and prayers? Or is that only for some people? Should we be more upset with you or with God that thoughts and prayers didn’t work this time? Why does He love some children more than the ones killed this time? Whose thoughts and prayers were better than those that came from Uvalde?
The thing is, so many of the guns that are in residence in this country aren’t even new to the market. Based on the outrage for gun reform, you’d think there was an influx in the last decade, like a special secret delivery. In reality, much of the automatics actually arrived here in the seventies and eighties. The gun used last week may very well have been pulled out from under a couch, where it sat for decades, and sold back into the market before being purchased in a terrible collision of timing.
Of course, there are many homes in which guns are simply not stored safely, and, yes, there should be an onus placed on the irresponsible party if such a gun is used in a crime. Period. We all assume that when someone purchases a car they are not going to drive it down a sidewalk. I also assume that when someone buys a gun, they will store it behind a locked door. Maybe that’s a solution. Prospective owners should not gain custody of a weapon until their home passes strict safety regulations.
Or we could just keep an inventory of #(InsertName)Strong merchandise at the ready and the tiny white cross company on speed dial. #UvaldeStrong. #SandyHookStrong. #ParklandStrong #ColumbineStrong. #SandyHookStrong. #THISDOESNOTHELPSTRONG.
While I have been absorbed in the news this week, I have done better at staying away from social media. I am starting to understand that many posts are almost begging for argument - a subconscious route to relieve sadness and fear masked with anger. Unfortunately, it works, I’ve seen heated arguments break out between friends that I know will dent relationships down the road. A tradeoff, perhaps - a chance to let it all out but at the cost of what?
“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”
Thanks, wordsmith, if I ever see a gun (or a knife or a set of nunchucks) walking down the street by themselves, I’ll assume I have even bigger problems.
“It’s not a gun issue! It’s a lack of faith! (He) didn’t have Jesus in his heart!”
Oh, thank goodness. You fixed it! If only you’d told us sooner! Will you position yourself at the school doors with communion wafers? Should we pass out a Bible with the purchase of every bullet? How should we move forward with this, exactly? Please, before its too late! Is it really fair to pick one religion over another as the answer to mass shootings? We don’t actually know, do we, whether any of the shooters were devout in their own faiths. Assigning an incorrect religion as the root cause of these tragedies is the playground equivalent of claiming “my invisible friend is better than yours.”
“It’s not a gun issue, it’s a mental illness issue.”
Oh, wow, thanks. We all thought this was normal behavior. Wow. Phew. Lots of people have mental illnesses and DO NOT SHOOT UP SCHOOLS. As the mother of two children - one who struggles with depression, I cannot imagine that my child would ever grab a gun from one of our (very locked, keys hidden) safes and harm themselves or anyone else.
Do you know what I have in common with all of the mothers of all the perpetrators of all the 374 school shootings that have taken place in our country since 1840? That same inability to imagine that my child would ever grab a gun from our home and harm themselves or anyone else.
I don’t know.
I know that we are flooded with “GO BIG” after these events. Maybe that is the problem. Maybe “reach out to your representative” or “get these laws rewritten” or “reform, reform, reform” is just too intimidating of a starting line. Maybe, when our hearts are aching and tears are creeping past our lids, we need to do something small and close and feasible. Mr. Rogers is famous for his direction of “look for the helpers.”
Maybe that is our role immediately after - not to look for the helpers, but to be one.
I have a circle of close friends, all teachers, who I hurt for each time these stories flood the news - why am I not reaching out to each one with a note of encouragement? I know they all practice tornado drills and fire drills and, yes, active shooter drills. But the latter is so awful that I block it out.
Perhaps that is a starting line, simply asking what that is like and how it feels and offering a hug.
Ring up the local school and ask, “How can I help?” in the aftermath. It may be that lunch monitors are needed so that staff can take an hour to sit with their thoughts and your phone call can make that happen. It may be that the schools would like funds for doorstops so that teachers have a chance to block classroom doors from being opened in a worst-case scenario come to life.
Email a local principal and ask what you can do to help their teachers and staff feel safe.
If you feel adamant about keeping your Second Amendment rights whole, let the school know that you will be sitting in front of their school with a lawn chair, prepared to tackle anyone opting to showcase theirs within its walls.
Stop complaining about those in-service days. While your complaint is finding childcare, teachers are learning how to protect their students from bullets. Offer lunch instead.
School shootings are not unimaginable. Children don’t speak of them in “if it happens” they speak of “when it happens.”
Unimaginable is that it hasn’t happened in your district yet.
Unimaginable is that it hasn’t happened to someone you know yet.
Unimaginable is that it won’t be important to you until it happens in your own town.
Unimaginable is that it won’t really matter to you until it involves someone you know.
Unimaginable is that you may not be called to action until it is your child or grandchild or niece or nephew or sister or brother who is lying in the hallway as part of the next statistic.