Another School Shooting, More Nothing: Kids and Teachers Deserve Safety
Santa Fe Marks 22 US School Shootings In 2018
Code Reds, Fear, Tears - And Nothing Done
As so many others were, I was horrified to hear about the latest high school shooting in Santa Fe yesterday (May 18). 9 kids and 1 teacher lost their lives in this tragedy, and here is what's going to happen: absolutely nothing.
Don't get me wrong. I know that my voice, along with countless others, have or will take to social media, expressing our collective horror and outrage that kids have been gunned down yet again. That said, I also know that in the shadows of a powerful gun lobby - as well as politicians who simply are so far removed from the realities of a common, public life that they will never understand the legitimate fears that kids, parents and school personnel are facing today - absolutely nothing will happen.
I know as a Canadian high school teacher, I'm lucky. While we do not generally see outbreaks in school violence such as school shootings at anywhere near the degree that is happening in the United States, we really don't see the level of violence that our American counterparts do. I recall either reading about or watching on TV maybe 10 school shootings in Canada over the last three decades, and yet it seems that every other week we're all reading about gun violence breaking out at some point in United States elementary or high schools.
Over the last decade and a half, I've had to learn what to do when a stranger comes into the building with the threat of violence, and had to learn how to allay the fears of kids of many ages that what we were doing was a drill to try and ensure our collective safety if something happens. I've had to explain to my children that while going through a Code Red drill - where we ensure our classroom doors are locked, that any lights are out, that blinds are pulled and everyone is well out of sight of the windows, off their cell phones and quiet - can be really frightening and unsettling, it's in some ways not all that different from a fire drill.
The fact that such a drill even exists makes sense given the violence that is being seen in schools, but it galls me that we even need it.
It bothers me greatly that a very small percentage of kids are seeing gun violence as the only way to deal with whatever turmoil they are dealing with.
I support teaching kids about responsible gun use and ownership - for instance, if you hunt for food, either as part of a cultural or family tradition, or if you are a member of the military or a police force and need to learn these skills in order to carry on those traditions or necessities of employment - but it seems to me that guns are far too accessible for youth, and particularly in the United States. The Parkland shooter was 19. The alleged Santa Fe shooter was 17.
We have no idea at this point about what sort of mental health issues either of the individuals might be living with, but the fact of the matter is that both of these kids were no doubt dealing with darkness within themselves. I also realize that not everyone is "wired right" - not everyone will look at everything they're dealing with on a day to day basis with a clear gaze and realize that perpetrating violence is not a way to deal with their issues. That being said, why is it so many people fail to realize that these kids are struggling with something well before a tragedy like a school shooting occurs?
Why is it we only realize well after the fact that these shooters were disturbed?
Why are guns so easily accessible to these young kids?
I can't speak to the gun laws in North America, but I do know for sure that if you want to own a firearm in Canada, at least legally, you need a license. There is also, as far as I know, no concealed carry laws in Canada. I know there are some variations between state and federal laws as far as gun ownership goes in the States, again if you want to own a gun legally, but given that kids are somehow - and apparently relatively easily - gaining access to firearms and then turning them on their friends, peers and teachers, that indicates a problem to me.
22 school shootings in the United States in the last five months. 22 shootings in 19 weeks and 5 days, or just over one a week. That's just over one too many, and yet again, people are saying their hearts are with the victims, and are praying for change, and the politicians are saying that things aren't "looking good," which is what President Trump tweeted in the hours after the Santa Fe shooting, and yet, sweet nothing will be done.
President Trump also tweeted that "To the students, families, teachers and personnel at Santa Fe High School – we are with you in this tragic hour, and we will be with you forever..."
With them? Just like you were with Parkland?
Politicians, regardless of where they live, need to actually step up beyond the thoughts and prayers, and do something to legitimately solve what is seemingly becoming a bit of a crisis in American schools.
Kids have enough to deal with.
Worrying about being shot during class shouldn't be one of those things.