Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Inauguration Day!
I spent the morning watching Barack Obama be sworn into office for the final time. I had a lot of mixed emotions as I watched his hand over bibles and Beyonce singing the national anthem. Emotions that circled around the past, present and future.
On December 14, 2012 our nation was severely affected by a tragedy of insane proportions. Small, innocent children lost their lives at the hand of a young man with an assault weapon who opened fire without care or thought for anyone in his path. A massacre of innocence unlike any this nation has ever seen.
A quick Wikipedia search points out that the first school shooting in our nation happened in the 1700’s. Only 3 children survived the slaughter of the one room school-house. The majority of shootings after that involved one on one incidences. A somebody done somebody wrong song. Not the way to solve a problem in my opinion but better than going after the masses because of your anger at one.
Every time school shootings occur and the media runs with photos and interviews and overhead video I cringe. I cringe for the tragedy that has occurred. I cringe for the heinous crime our media are committing in asking the families of victims to be interviewed moments after the event.
Every time media coverage flashes across the screen or messages pop up on Facebook or Twitter I am taken back. I am a sophomore living in Omaha, NE. I am bussed to school daily. My brother is bussed across town because the city is finally getting around to integrating schools. My sister walks across the catwalk in the golf course to get to school. I am scanned by metal detectors and my backpack run through airport type security to get into school each morning. Occasionally someone gets pulled aside for frisking when the alarm goes off. All entrances are locked, including the one to get into the office. Better hope you don’t need the principal because she is under lock and key and bullet proof glass. We practice lock downs like Kansas practices tornado drills. When that alarm goes off it means business. Get your ass down… NOW!!!
The alarm sounded for real in the middle of a volleyball game in gym class. Mustard colored shirts plastered with silkscreen bulldogs and paired with Daisy Duke black shorts all stopped instantly and dropped to the floor in their places. Criss cross applesauce and hands in your lap. Quiet as a church mouse, not even a cricket chirp. Shouting coming from outside. Waiting with bated breath for that first gun shot hoping it’s just fireworks because that’s all you can wrap your head around. The shouting continues but no pops are heard. Eventually the smooth voice of the principal comes over the intercom and announces the all clear. The danger has passed and no one was harmed. Police will be escorting students to cars or buses immediately. The school day was over.
The news reported the scenario with lackluster ease. Nothing at all to fear. Just a silly little gang war that happened to come full circle on the front steps of our school. Police were notified early and arrived on scene before even so much as a “fuck you” was uttered. See, no big deal. No reason to fear for the safety of your children. They came out fine, after all.
I am taken back to a day in my naive years of teaching Head Start preschool. I had an inner city student who came from the projects bring a gun to school. I caught him showing it to all of his friends as they prepared to put their belongings into lockers and being their afternoon. A 4-year-old with a pistol in his backpack. I was terrified. I moved slowly to him and confiscated the gun. He was terribly upset. I told him that it wasn’t safe and that I would see that his parents got it back. I took the gun to the alcove of my room and placed it on the highest shelf, my hand shaking with every movement. My mind was reeling with thoughts of accidentally shooting myself or one of the children in my class because I was so very nervous about this gun. I called down the social worker for this family so that he could address the matter with the family while I was teaching my class. He wandered down to my classroom with little worry or fear. I took my children to gym class and went back to my room to hand over the gun. The social worker laughed in my face that I mistook a child’s toy for a real gun. I was working outside of Chicago where Cabrini Green was in the news daily. I was holding an incredibly realistic looking weapon. My only interaction with guns happened to be hunting type shot guns. The damn thing looked real to this 24-year-old and I had every right to question it. The parents were called in anyway because their child brought a toy gun to school. Now that young man would be 18 years old. I wonder if he ever brought another gun to school. I wonder if he is even still alive.
Gun control has been weighing heavily on my mind since the shooting in December. I don’t get political here very often because everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I feel like I need to at least voice mine about this.
President Obama has started the boulder rolling to ban assault weapons once again. Proponents of both sides are in an uproar because neither feels the decision is right. Some feel it’s not enough and others feel it’s too much. Here I stand, balancing in the middle. I’m all for hunting rifles and single round firearms to be legal. I personally will never own one but do not want to take away the rights of people who do. I do believe that people kill people, not guns. Still, why would anyone need an assault weapon of any type? They are not usable for hunting purposes. They are purely weapons of mass destruction. I’m all for them to be gone. I do believe that all weapons should be registered. No, that will not stop people from stealing a weapon to kill or stop someone from registering a weapon and then using it to kill. Still, I have to register my vehicle. Who’s to say it won’t be stolen and used to kill someone or I get behind the wheel drunk and take innocent lives. It seems like a stretch but it’s a comparison nonetheless.
Now there are people who want teachers in schools to bear arms. Every part of my being just wants to scream. What the hell are people thinking? Teachers are not trained to hold off a group of students coming at them to take their gun. Teachers are not trained to negotiate a standoff after their gun has been taken. Teachers are in schools to help our children learn and grow, not hold the thought of a gun in the room over their heads. Fill the halls with metal detectors and police officers if you must. Please keep our teachers as innocent and pure as our students.
That is all. I’m stepping down off my soapbox. It is my hope that I didn’t offend but merely started a discussion. Hate my views if you need to but keep in my that they are my views alone. If you love them make them your own. Either way, help our nation find a way to keep our children innocent and safe. They deserve that from all of us.