When I was in high school there was a smoking room in my boarding-school dorm. Back then people smoked everywhere. Doctors smoked in their office. The dentist smoked between drilling and filling. Adults smoked in living rooms and cars, even while reading nite-nite books to their toddler. Every restaurant, tavern, and airplane accommodated smokers. Yet now, there are whole cites that have banned smoking in all public areas. Why? Because of the simple fact that tobacco smoke, even second-hand, kills you. Yes, that’s a real fact. So how did this highly-funded-lying-lobbying industry lose its voice? “The lobby began to lose power as the industry lost credibility, Brandt said” (Keck). In hindsight change from the false to the true seems simple enough, even a lie with sex-appeal and allure, once we stop believing in it.
“We should have fixed it.” Andrew Pollack made a passionate plea, didn’t he? Will we listen?
I must admit, there is a labyrinth one can easily fall down when you start to untangle this mess of gun violence plaguing our America. But I do believe we are beginning to see a horizon.
Where to start? Get informed. Not from Twitter. Or Facebook. Maybe not anywhere on social media. But by speaking to people in your community. Ask how many guns they have in their household. Ask them if they are locked. Ask how do they see a way to keep all citizens safe. This hard discussion needs the full participation of gun owners. They must come to the table. These are their weapons, and if they want them in circulation, they must figure this one out. With you. And me. Face to face.
I’m sorry, but what else could I write about today? While my students participate in Vermont Writes Day, spurred on by 7 compelling prompts, I am halted by nonsensical bloodshed. Not drawn to write about the fantastical, no, not an imaginary letter to the bloat king who degrades our White House, nor a whisper coming from the phone either, not even the kindness which does come in abundance to my doorway, but me, shroud in a gray sheet of helplessness, naked and invisible. I cannot fathom how many children must be gunned down before we all throw our mistempered weapons to the ground.
“In the five years since the shooting, which transformed a fairly anonymous Connecticut town into a buzzword in the caustic national debate on gun violence, armed men have killed people at a nightclub, an outdoor music festival, a social services center, movie theaters, a church in South Carolina and a church in Texas.
The displays of grief follow a familiar routine: Candlelight vigils and makeshift memorials. National offerings of thoughts and prayers. Pleas to tighten gun laws, immediately trailed by calls to avoid politicizing a tragedy” (
As we come upon the third anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, I find it unfathomable that America is still in a stalled response. In my most right-wing-NRA-toting nightmare I would never have believed that December 14, 2012 would not have been enough for Americans to demand the changes needed to halt our present school shooting epidemic.
As of 2013 there have been approximately 162 school shootings in America. School shootings. Yes, I am only discussing shootings in schools. The place where children go to learn about rivers and stars and algebra and Huck Finn. Where they and their friends eat mac and cheese in a noisy cafeteria, and still stick gum under their desks while being asked to imagine making the world a better place. Where they are encouraged to dream and explore and fail. Yes, dream and explore and even fail because it takes all three to learn sometimes. But as of late, schools are also a place where we are, “frightening our young people by planning for intentional acts of harm,” (Schlozman). A place where we practice lock-downs. Schools are now targets.
I can’t pretend to have answers. But I also can’t pretend I’m not angry that our nation is still stalemated about how to respond to the massacre of 20 innocent children and their teachers at the Sandy Hook Elementary School two years ago in Newtown Connecticut. Looking back on that tragedy, I wonder how this lack of legislative movement for gun control is even possible. Not only have there been no advancements, but since December 14th, 20012, there have been close to 100 more school shootings. Yes, school shootings. As a teacher who enters a high school building every day, who “practices” federally mandated lock-downs, I can’t pretend not to be terrified, both for the need for this practice and for what seems to be looming, eventually, for too many more innocent children.