A couple Fridays ago, we had a big weekend planned. Friday night, Gracie would go to ballet, and when we got back at 6:30 her para (one-on-one or 1:1 helper from school) was going to come over for dinner along with her husband and dog. Then, Saturday, Gracie had a horseback riding lesson, there was a Sibling Tree event, and Jackson’s school had its annual Spaghetti Dinner fundraiser. Even though our schedule was busy, we were excited for all the weekend’s events.
Friday afternoon, I picked up Jackson as usual. We headed home so I could sneak in a bit more work before ballet. Right when we got in the car, the phone rang. It was Chad. “Have you heard anything?” he asked franticly, continuing, “Gracie’s school is surrounded by cops and they’re not letting any of the parents in. Have you heard what’s going on?” Of course I hadn’t. I told Chad I would text Gracie’s 1:1 and would Google it when I got home.
At the next red light, I sent K a quick text—”Are you okay??” She didn’t respond right away, and I started to worry. I felt inside me for Gracie’s beautiful light, and felt she was calm, relaxed, and happy. Wondering if I could trust that, if I would feel if something were wrong, I called Chad and asked him what he felt. Right when he said he felt like something was terribly wrong, I got a text from K saying they were fine, everyone was safe, but they were on lockdown and she didn’t know why. She asked if I did. (Apparently people think I know things.) Chad said that the SWAT teams were starting to arrive; he wondered what could have happened. I told him that we both knew what happened—lots of police officers and SWAT teams could only mean one thing. Someone had a gun.
Between me texting with K and Chad talking to police officers and other parents, we got enough information to find out that the school was on lockdown due to an external threat. After about an hour, the police decided it was safe to start releasing students. Those who rode buses would go first, escorted to the bus one class at a time by armed police officers. Those kids whose parents picked them up would be allowed to leave next, again one class at a time and escorted by cops. Kids who normally walked home would not be allowed to leave unless they were picked up by a parent or guardian. I waited anxiously for my girl, trying not to panic, trying not to think about Sandy Hook and Columbine and all the other school shootings in between.
It was almost two hours after dismissal when Gracie finally got home, too late to go to ballet. She immediately snuggled into me and grabbed her iPad, just wanting some down time. I asked her what happened—she said they were on lockdown. I asked her what that meant, and her answer broke my heart. “We had to hide and be real quiet so no one scary would come in.” Her 1:1 said the kids all did a great job, especially Gracie, and they got lollipops as rewards. She said the kids were excited to get lollipops. That’s not enough for me, though. A lollipop is not enough to ameliorate the damage of learning about hiding from scary people.
K and her husband and dog eventually came over for dinner a little later than originally planned, which was understandable under the circumstances. It turned out to be good for all of us to decompress after the day’s events; the principal had held a meeting with all the teachers and staff when the students were gone, and he told them that a 15-year-old boy had texted a picture of himself standing outside the school with a gun to an 8th grade girl. The girl told her teacher, who told the school resource officer, who called it in to the general police force. The boy was caught quickly by police, but in an abundance of caution they did not release the students right away. A stupid teenage boy did a stupid thing and cost the entire school its innocence. It could have been much worse, though. Shudder.
So, I guess we’re tackling difficult subjects on the blog now. Last time it was vaccines, this time it’s gun control. Please forgive me while I rant.
I have always supported gun control. I cannot fathom why people think they need guns. I’ve never shot a gun and never intend to, and my life is rich indeed. Some people argue that it’s their constitutional right to have a gun. I respectfully disagree. I have read the Second Amendment. It states:
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
In the days of George Washington, those words made a lot of sense. The people of this country were fighting a very real threat, and the country in its infancy did not have its own “well regulated militia.” It made sense to create an army by, of, and for the people. We are no longer a country in its infancy, though, and we have a formidable militia, one of the most fearsome in the world. There is no need for the people to be armed; there is no looming threat to our national security that requires the people to be the militia. Now, the biggest threat to our safety and security is no longer the British army—it’s the people with guns, our militia of the people. We are not safe—not at schools, or movie theaters, or concert halls, or marathons. Our founding fathers did not want this, could not have envisioned how their words would be perverted to allow this kind of violence.
That night, when I challenged Chad (a gun-toting Southerner) about his views on gun control, his response was “It’s too late. The guns are out there now.” I do not agree. It’s never too late to do the right thing. I see no reason why we cannot implement stringent background checks for new gun purchases and set a deadline for all current gun owners to either comply with the law or relinquish their weapons. Any legitimate hunter or collector would be able to fulfill this duty, and it would keep guns away from the types of crazies who shot up Sandy Hook Elementary in Newton, Connecticut, or killed dozens of innocents at the premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colorado, or perpetrated another of the mass shootings of innocents that plague our society.
That Friday a couple Fridays ago was scary, but it could have been so much worse. We have to do something. No more students should fear for their safety in their schools, no more moviegoers or concert attendees should fear domestic terrorism. No more shootings—no more guns. No more.
Our school district has all sorts of drills, lockdown is just one and there have been lockdowns of many schools due to people with guns near schools. The new schools are built to funnel strangers to main entrances and all other doors are locked. Exits are not emphasized in the structures. The police dept has a class on when to run, hide, or fight.
There are bad apples out there and while we stress it is good to know what to do, these situations are rare. Major earthquakes are rare and we plan for those. When we are on the coast we mention tsunami signs and leaving for high ground. Fires are not so rare but safety is all about reducing dangers and getting out safely. In proper perspective these don’t terrorize people. We talk more about safety while cooking and crossing the street.