I volunteered for the first time in my youngest’s class yesterday. He’s in first grade and was over the moon to have me there – so proud and excited.
The teacher explained that it was quiet reading time and I could go around to kids and ask them to quietly read aloud to me and, by the way, at 1:45 there will be a lockdown drill.
“You can head out before the drill or whenever works” she assured me.
“ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING?” I screamed inside my head. Out loud, however, I said “oh, it’s no problem, I have the rest of the afternoon”. If my son is going to have to experience a lock down drill today you bet your ass that I’m going to be staying right by his side.
And so the hour went and a few minutes before the drill she called them all to sit together on the carpet. She explained what they would be doing and what was important – be still, be quiet. Some kids tried to talk about what happened in Florida, but she redirected them to the job they had to do. I was taken aback that first and second graders knew about Florida, but in our media saturated culture I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise. Then they went back to their desks to wait.
The announcement came over the loud speaker and we all quietly and efficiently went over to the cubbies and tucked ourselves out of the line of sight of the door. Nineteen children ages 6-8, a teacher, a student teacher, and me. My wiggly boy wrapped himself around whatever body part of mine he could grab as I sat near him. And I looked around at all these kids, some so serious, quiet, and stern, while others worked to contain their wiggles and giggles.
I had pictured what it would be like to participate in a lock down drill, but I was always a few degrees removed emotionally. I couldn’t be today. I was right in the middle of it, looking at all of these innocent faces full of love for life and the world
I wondered to myself…
Would they be spared the horror of being murdered with their classmates?
Which kids would his teacher protect if a shooter came in the classroom?
Would she shield my child? Would she shield any? Would they shield each other? If I was there would I only shield my child, or would I try to shield others, too?
Would it matter?
Anyone coming in with an AR-15 isn’t going to be aiming, they’re going to be spraying a firehose of bullets onto your children. And mine.
What do I tell my child? Get behind your friends? Stay still and get shot? Or run? To where?
I want you to fucking tell me what I’m supposed to tell my seven year old to do so he can protect himself from a sociopath with an semi-automatic weapon.
What do I tell him so that when a shooter comes into his school he’s one of the ones that comes home alive?
What do I tell him to do so I don’t have to plan a funeral, box up his favorite rain boots he’ll never wear again and the Lego he’ll never play with again, box up all the memories I have of him knowing I will never see him again?
Do you know the grief of never being able to touch your child again? Hear their laugh? See them get excited about something they love? Hold their tiny hand in yours?
I don’t know that grief and I don’t want to. There are already too many parents in this country that do.
So tell me, right now, what should a seven year old child do to keep himself from getting killed at school?
You can’t. We both know you can’t. We both know that, for you, this isn’t about keeping kids safe. This is about you feeling entitled to own whatever gun you want because of your interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. You don’t need your AR-15, you want your AR-15. This isn’t about your right to bear arms, it’s about your perceived right to own a toy that can kill lots of people at once. Nobody needs that kind of gun.
What you are saying is that your toy, or right to own that toy, is more important than every child’s life that has been killed by one of them. And every child that will be killed with one because we both know Parkland wasn’t the last time.
Every legislator that sits back and does nothing to strengthen the gun laws to protect innocent people is an accomplice to the next murder(s) that take place with one of these weapons.
And every NRA circle jerking gun lover that uses the Constitution to defend their right to own this type of gun is an accomplice to the next murder(s) that are committed with it.
Violence can happen anywhere, at any time. I know that I can’t bubble wrap my children and I don’t expect to. But let’s not make it so god damned easy for unstable people to get access to these kinds of weapons. You can do something, you are just choosing not to. Let’s work together to create laws that make sense and protect everyone. Let’s start talking to each other and seeing each other’s humanity. It’s time to make a different choice for the sake of my child, and yours.
If you love and respect guns so much, then I challenge you to be a part of a constructive conversation about responsible gun ownership.
The simple fact is that my child deserves to come home safely from school, every day, more than you deserve to have your big gun toy. And don’t tell me we need to toughen up, that more guns need to be in schools (what kind of insane logic is that??), that we need teachers to defend our students. They’re teachers, not security guards or police officers. I think we’ve ‘toughened up’ this culture enough and look at the mess it’s gotten us into.
You don’t have to support the NRA to love guns. You can be the biggest hoplophile around and still not support a civilian desire to own semi-automatic weapons. You have been brainwashed into thinking that loving guns = loving ALL guns = loving the NRA. #allgunsmatter? But the NRA, as an organization, does not actually have anyones best interests in mind but their own and the gun manufacturers. Follow the money, then ask yourself… how much money is my child’s life worth? Look me in the eye and tell me what price you put on his head and the head of my other two children. Hurry up, I don’t have much time before the next mass shooting happens.