In the wake of the shooting in Roseburg Oregon, the panic set in again. It’s a real feeling for me, not paranoia. I work in a school. Sure, I could be shot by one of these random gunmen in a prayer group or perhaps even a yoga class, a restaurant, or a theatre. They seem to pick eclectic locations, to prey on whoever is there. It could be me. It could be you. It could be my kid.
But schools, for whatever reason, are often the setting. It’s a place we’ve all been. And I am there every day. I teach preschool.
This week we have a lockdown drill. We’ve had them before. It’s important to stay calm, to stay quiet, and to keep the kids still. But in my heart there is terror. The drill we had after Sandy Hook was especially hard. It could be real. I sat in the corner with the class of fifteen three and four-year-olds. It was dark and quiet. One girl started crying. I wanted to cry too, but instead I tried my best to reassure her. I cried later. It’s too real.
Last night I hesitantly picked up a book: “We Need to Talk about Kevin”. I have read it before. It is heart-wrenching. I picked it up again as a response to my friend’s question, “I wonder what the parents of these kids go through?” The book is a fictionalized account of the parent of a kid who does a school shooting (not giving anything away; the reader knows this from the beginning.) It touches on the pathology of the shooter.
And this is what we are trying to understand. It’s what the gun enthusiasts hope we go to first. A friend posted on Facebook, “Cain killed Able with a rock. It’s not a gun problem; it’s a heart problem.”
But isn’t it both?
How many kids could the Sandy Hook murderer have killed if he had a rock, or, hell, give him a whole bag of rocks? Could he have killed twenty, most of them six-year olds? The Aurora theatre shooter might have killed a few, instead of 12. The availability of guns is what makes these shootings possible.
NRA dudes, I don’t want to take your guns away. I just want it to be reasonable! Do you need a rifle to kill (innocent) deer and elk? OK! Do you need a gun by your bedside, loaded, to kill possible intruders? Fine. Do you need an uzi, a machine gun, a semi-automatic, or whatever other gun shoots 100 rounds? NO. NO ONE NEEDS THAT GUN.
So, yes we do need to talk. About Kevin, about Sandy Hook, Aurora, Roseburg. President Obama said we are growing numb to this problem. We can’t let that happen. We should be outraged. We need to talk about gun control versus 2nd amendment gun rights. About mental health. About peace and safety and helping each other. We need to talk, and we need to listen.
And then we need to do something. Before more innocent lives are lost.