Updated: Jul 13
Today, I took my kids to my son's future school to grab a welcome bag. We didn't make it to orientation...long story, but while I was there I was sure to ask about safety and what that looks like. I wanted to know what doors were locked and how people got into the building. When I entered the building I noticed there was a keypad with a camera on it that you had to use to buzz in, as I walked through the first set of doors I came to the office which also had a locked door and a button to press for help. The next set of doors was where you entered the school.
My school wasn't like that. Maybe the doors were locked from the outside to get in except for the main entrance but there wasn't all of these layers. I grew up in small town America where big belts, wrangler jeans, big trucks, and racial slurs run deep. I remember when I was in high school there was an altercation between a white boy and the new Black boy who had just started school there. The white boy had drawn a noose on the Black boys locker, of course words and hands were exchanged. I don't remember any conversation or assembly addressing the situation but I do remember the Black kids not returning to our small town school.
My husband attended a school close to a major city where gang violence was an issue. He had to walk through metal detectors everyday in middle and high school. The school had security guards and bags were required to be clear and were searched daily. If a fight erupted in school it was hard to get passed and make it to class on time.
When I was stationed in Denver, the Aurora Movie Theater shooting happened. That was in 2012. If you aren't familiar with the events, a man entered the theater during a midnight showing of the Dark Knight dressed in combat gear and threw gas canisters into the theater before opening fire on the theater. People thought it was just an added bonus of the show. 12 people died and 70 were wounded. We lost a member of our unit that day, he was 29. The youngest person who died in that shooting was 6.
As a former military member and a former government employee we had active shooter drills during the workday. We hid in supply closets and under desks until the all clear was called. We watched videos and took trainings on how to disarm an active shooter if the were able to force their way into a locked room and how to safely try to escape the building. This is what I think of when I hear about children having to learn how to hide under desks.
A man my husband was in the military with moved to Washington state and shared a video of him carrying an AR-15 around town simply to make his point that guns aren't a problem. The reality is that it made people extremely uncomfortable and feel unsafe. The video included his interaction with police.
Fast forward, a girl a few years younger than me died by gun violence related to domestic violence a few years ago. She left her baby boy behind.
I have a cousin who doesn't have kids. She said, "Why would I be eager to bring kids into a world where you can't even drop them off at school?" She's not alone in thinking this.
I reached out to a friend in Norway. She responded, "I can't believe what happened in Texas. Seems like practicing the gun law is more important than protecting children. And the aborting law...and the milk formula shortage...and police vs. Black people. Coming from a country where the police don't wear guns, where we can't buy guns over counter/or at all(?), and where we have free health care, I don't understand why all the sad/weird/horrible things are going on in the US. I'm not saying at all my country is anyway perfect, but at least we can feel safe sending our kids to school etc." Powerful.
My social media feed is bursting with people urging EVERYONE to contact their senators. With outcries of why are we being so dense, why do shootings keep happening, why doesn't anyone care about our youth? To focus entirely on mental health is irresponsible. There is more at play here, there is more that we need to protect here than someone's ability to own any weapon they wish. What are we doing?
I'd be lying to you if I said I wasn't contemplating homeschool to try to protect my children, but that doesn't seem sustainable for me. The issue at large is still gun laws and the truth is we are all at risk. We are at risk at the mall, the salon, the grocery store, college, work, school, movie theaters, concerts. It's hard not to feel like the world around us is about to erupt into flames.
I'm here to tell you that if you need a break from social media and the headlines because you're turning into a ball of anxiety or a puddle of tears every time those children and those families affected cross your screen, do it. Protect yourself and your children. Try to live in some joy, take action to make change for those children and those families who have been deeply affected by all of these events and try to be part of the movement to make the change for our children and the families of the future. This last 2 years has been a call for change.
If you want to contact your state senators here is how to find that info: https://www.senate.gov/senators/senators-contact.htm
You can write whatever you like, but be kind here is the example I've seen floating around:
"Hello, my name is ____. I'm a constituent from STATE, ZIP CODE. I don't need a response. I am concerned about the lack of senate vote on the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, H.R. 8 and the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021, H.R. 1446. I strongly encourage Senator NAME to please support a vote and the passage of these two acts. Thank you for your hard work."