As I write this, I mourn for the families in Santa Fe, Texas, as I still mourn for the families in Parkland, FL and Palmdale, CA and Ocala, FL and Raytown, MO and Gloversville, NY and Lexington Park, MD and Seaside, CA and Mobile, AL and Birmingham, AL and Jackson, MI and Mount Pleasant, MI and Itta Bena, MS and Savannah, GA and Nashville, TN and Oxon Hill, MD and Los Angeles, CA and Philadelphia, PA and Benton, KY and Italy, TX and Winston Salem, NC who have seen gun violence in one of their schools in 2018 alone.
Around noon, the first alert came through on my cell phone “At least 8 killed in high school shooting in Sante Fe, Texas; a suspect is in custody.”
Although I am devastated by today’s events, it’s unfortunate that my first response wasn’t shock, or surprise. Once again, like so many times before, I was overcome with grief, a pain like a deep breath of cold air over a cavity that has been growing. There has been a dull ache in the tooth for quite some time now. Here we are again.
According to CNN, this is the 22nd school shooting this school year; this one occurring less than two weeks from summer break, some victims two weeks from graduating and going off to college, or back home to Pakistan, or back home to her family. I’m tired of writing about gun violence. I’m tired of discussing active shooter training with my twelve-year-old son. I’m tired of having to spend time in my own classroom planning escape routes, a protocol for how to keep my students safe. I’m tired of this becoming—of being—a part of our life.
Tonight, I sit at my desk in tears. Saying it aloud, putting the names on the paper, makes it that much more real. I am tired of crying over deaths that could have been prevented. I am tired of writing this column again. I am tired of losing sleep thinking about parents whose children will never come back home to them, or children who lost their parents, or best friends or girlfriends or boyfriends or partners or mentors or soul mates.
And I’m angry.
After the Valentine’s Day shooting in Parkland, Florida, people vowed to strengthen gun control laws, the President promising to get tough. Rhetoric is great in times like these, but nothing actually changed because nothing changes. I want to blame the gun lobby, the NRA’s incredible chokehold on our politicians. I want to blame the myth of “a good guy with a gun” or “if there were more guns we’d be safer.” I want to laugh about the NRA banning guns at their own convention to ensure the safety of the Vice President, while actively promoting giving guns to untrained teachers so that they can add a police officer to their already overflowing list of responsibilities. I want to be at the stage like Australia or the UK where we can look back at that “terrible time in our American history” before we got serious about gun control. I want thoughts and prayers to be followed by change and action. I want it to be more than a T-shirt or meme generator. I want all of these things. I want any of these things.
But most of all, I want to go to sleep at night without having nightmares about my children’s future being terminated at the business end of a gun. I want this for every parent.
This week was my son’s last week of sixth grade. I wanted to write about his last week of school. I wanted to talk about his transition from sixth grade into seventh grade. I wanted to write about his summer. I wanted to talk about boyhood. Maybe next week.
I am tired of watching my son walk into his school each morning and hoping that I will see him when I get home.
What’s Next? Talk with others. Take action.
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Yet another school shooting . . .One per week . . . Lather, Rinse . . .Let’s STOP the repeat.
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