Kids keep dying. USA citizens keep allowing it to happen.
Four more children are dead in the United States of America, left bloody and lifeless in their classrooms and school hallways by one of their peers with a gun.
A couple of days ago, following this country’s latest school shooting, I read a letter to the editor of the local newspaper by a teacher who has firsthand experience with a violent threat from a student. It nearly brought me to tears. And it made me angry, so angry, about the lack of reasonable gun control in the USA.
Here’s the link to her letter in The Forum, Fargo, N.D., and here’ a copy –
I cannot for one minute truly understand what Ms. Bolstad experienced, and what she continues to experience, especially when more kids, teachers and support staff are killed in schools. I can only guess at what it must have taken for her to share her story. I’m thankful she did.
Seriously, can any of us even begin to fathom what it’s like for a kid, teacher or staff member who has survived a school shooting?
Can we imagine what it’s like to be a parent forced to mourn a dead child because of a school shooting?
No, we can’t. But I know this –
No student should ever have to practice staying out of an active shooter’s sight lines.
No teacher or staff member should ever have to face those kinds of nightmare scenarios, or the nightmares that haunt them as survivors.
No parent should ever have to feel the emptiness in their heart as it breaks.
Yet my kids and their contemporaries have grown up with active-shooter drills as part of their “normal” educational experience.
A nation that accepts this as “normal” is sick. The people of a nation that allow this to continue are sick. A government that fails again and again to do anything about it is sick.
Guns Above Lives
As I read Bolstad’s letter, I was transported back to the two-room schoolhouse I attended in the 1970s in Medora, N.D. Grades 1-4 in one room, grades 5-8 in the other, bathrooms, lockers and phy-ed room downstairs. It would have been an active shooter’s wet dream. Walk in the front door, up a dozen stairs, turn left to kill youngsters, right to murder pre- and early-teens. And our teachers.
But in those days we didn’t need to worry about kids with guns killing our classmates.
A couple of things that stand out are the proliferation and accessibility of guns in the USA.
Every Tom, Lauren and Marjorie is packin’ these days. There are more guns than people in this country, and Republican-controlled state legislatures are doing whatever they can to make it easier to buy, own and carry a gun. Members of Congress who are beholden to the National Rifle Association refuse to do anything.
Unfortunately for school children, neither well-meaning gun owners nor the gun nuts always lock down their weapons properly. Too often they’re putting the guns in their own children’s hands, creating new generations of gun nuts.
They have role models, too, what the former guy would have labeled “good people,” like Republican Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, who posted holiday messages on social media that included themselves and their children posing with automatic and semi-automatic weapons.
This, just days after the school shooting in Oxford, Mich.
Our kids are dying with drumbeat consistency, but all the gun nuts care about are a tragic misinterpretation of the 2nd Amendment and their guns, most of which were meant for the military, not everyday citizens.
Always with the guns.
And dead kids. Dead teachers. Dead support staff.
A nation with a dead soul.
If you can’t protect innocent children…
It’s horrific. Yet too many USA citizens care more about their guns than the lives of kids.
Oxford, Mich. was in the news last week; which school will be there next? It could be anywhere. It could be any day. And, judging from recent history, it will probably be sooner than later.
There’s plenty of blame to go around among members of Congress and presidents from both major political parties, gun zealots and the NRA. Perhaps most of all, blame lies with voters and non-voters who stand by, watch it happen over and over and over again and shrug their shoulders.
Say Their Names
So kids continue to be mowed down in their classrooms and their school’s hallways, places where I was safe as a school kid and where they should be able to feel safe now.
We must stop this. We have to do more.
Because if we can’t protect innocent children, then our society is a pathetic failure.
We owe it to teachers like Ms. Bolstad. We owe it to kids who have survived school shootings. We owe it to children whose lives have been cut short, like Madisyn Baldwin, 17, Tate Myre, 16, Justin Shilling, 17, and Hana St. Juliana, 14, who all died in Oxford.
Most of all, we owe it to the kids who will be left bloody and lifeless in the next school shooting if we continue to fail to act on the great illness that is our gun violence epidemic.
We have not been hard enough on our elected officials. We have not been hard enough on the National Rifle Association. And we haven’t been hard enough on ourselves.
We must have meaningful gun control now.
Without it, how many more children will die?
I am so angry.
Why isn’t everyone?
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Featured image by Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press