December 14, 2013

I Am Tired of School Shootings. What’s it Gonna Take to Stop Them?

Yes, it happened again.

A shooting at a school. This time around, one could say that less damage was done, but is that true?

The shooting became a heated topic in the socialmediasphere. Again. Regulation. No regulation. The need for more accessible mental health care. Better parenting. Everyone has an opinion. Some have the opinion that their opinion is the only right answer.

This tweet made me chuckle:

Welcome to America, where some of you will have an easier time buying an assault rifle than marrying who you love. ~ John Fugelsang

We’re all reaching at straws. None of us have the answer. Because there isn’t just one solution to this complex problem.

The closest I came to a shooting happened about a month ago. There was an (allegedly) armed gunman on the loose in our neighborhood. Our wooded, mostly high income neighborhood. Thankfully, my son was with me where I could protect him with one hormonal infused round-house. We received a phone message to stay in our homes, lock the doors and report any strange activity.

A helicopter hovered above the treeline. It was frightening and oddly exciting (I had just watched NCIS and wanted to be by a window where I could potentially get a view of the perp and call it in). It was the talk of the ‘hood for days, possibly weeks! “How could this happen in our neighborhood/back yards?” They caught the guy before dark and we all breathed a sigh of relief. But many people face actual shootings—sometimes multiple shootings—in their neighborhood every day! Children are killed every day!

One school shooting and (excuse the expression) we’re all up in arms. It’s deja vu all over again.

I posted this on my Facebook page soon after the shooting:

I am tired of school shootings. What’s it gonna take to stop them?

Here’s the conversation that ensued:

L: Guess a bullet to the head. How about gun control ??

Me: Exactly. I sure don’t remember shootings when I was a kid.

J: It’s gut wrenching and just makes me heartsick….

L: Another one just down the street from my kids’ high school, Lynn. When my daughter was in 8th grade in Littleton, she was involved in a shooting at her school…had to hit the ground of the bus. It’s really ridiculous.

Me: Yikes, Linda! That’s frightening!!

It could help a little if guns were at least as regulated as cars.

D: Gun control won’t stop them because it doesn’t work. We have severe gun control in NYC and people still get shot. Start prosecuting the parents who allow their kids access to guns, and that may do something.

L: If I had insight into why this happens, I’d be doing something about it

Me: That could certainly work, Dana.

JS: Why have guns in the house in the first place?? Lynn this never happened a generation ago.

Me: I don’t claim to have the answers. Only questions. What’s wrong with these people who go into schools…. same convo as the last shooting. It’s really tiring. Deja vu all over again.

JS: We get searched left and right at airports, now the schools need the same.

L: broke my heart watching all those students with their arms up, having to be frisked, each one

D: May work, may not, who knows? There were just as many guns around when we were kids and this stuff never happened. I just don’t know what the underlying issue is, and what is causing this.

Me: To satisfy the people who say it’s our right to carry arms to protect themselves from the crazy people who have arms Joan. Perpetuating violence. Inevitably, one way or another, the wrong people are going to get their hands on guns. But if we could make it a bit tougher in the first place…

JS: There needs to be many safeguards and checks.

Me: Underlying issues have to be untreated mental illness. Throw in some economic troubles, anger, confusion…

D: People have guns for many various reasons, it’s unfair to say that it’s unnecessary. For some people it’s very necessary. Then there is the argument that making it tougher only makes it tougher on law abiding citizens, and that is a point. If we could find out what the real issue is, that would be a big help.

JS: So true!!

Me: We need to make it tougher for all. Even law-abiding citizens.

JS: YES!! And register the guns so they can be traced.

D: It’s hard to make things tougher on criminals and/or crazy people. They have no rules, or need to follow the rules.

L: Untreated, unrecognized mental illness is a huge issue. (although most mentally ill are not also violent); in my daughter’s school, the guy was actively hallucinating. His folks had given up trying to get him care

JS: Not only that D but the criminal has more chances and rights than victim. I have first hand knowledge of this .. going thru it now.

JS: L, curious as to why the parents didn’t warn people.

Me: OK. Let’s start with eliminating the stigma around mental illness. Open up more options for treatment, esp. for those who can’t afford it.

L: J, the shooter was an adult who went to jr. high there! most our chronic mentally ill (a HUGE majority) are being housed and treated in the prison system due to lack of resources. It’s not a priority

D: There was a great article going around entitled, ‘I am *shooters name* Mom’ that really showed the extreme difficulties parents face getting help for their mentally ill children. It was heart wrenching.

JS: Wish I had the answers or at least a clue.

Me: Me, too, J. It’s all pretty sad.

Me: Do you have a link for that article, D? (Not that I want to read something heart-wrenching on a Friday…)

D: ‘I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother’

JG: The “gun control doesn’t work, because New York City has tough gun laws but there are still gun crimes” argument is not a valid one, because it is too easy for New Yorkers to drive to Virginia and smuggle guns back into the city. All it proves is that *Inconsistent* gun control doesn’t work.

JS: Ahh John, right.

D: It’s not an ‘argument’, it’s a fact, to begin with and secondly, you can get guns anywhere. If they were all made illegal tomorrow, you could still get guns. People still got liquor during Prohibition if you recall. Drugs are illegal and people still get those. The idea that the answer is to get rid of guns is wishful thinking.

JS: I wish, I wish and may the fairy dust sprinkle all over the universe. (perhaps I’m one of those mental cases !!)

D: The only thing we seem to be on top of keeping out of the country is Cuban cigars. Meanwhile, you can practically find meth at Wal-Mart.

A: I am a strong supporter of gun control (not elimination ) and improvements in how we handle gun crime. That said, someone who is going to go shoot someone with a gun is not very likely concerned with the legality of owning a gun. This is a huge problem, but gun control and gun violence are two very different issues with a common core. Stricter gun laws makes sense, but does not address the root problems of escalating gun violence.

JS: HA! D,.. Walmart is a joke. Hate the joint.


Me: Good one, D! I think if we had fairy dust per Joan’s suggestion + everyone did yoga + nobody was exposed to chemicals + _____, all would be good!

Me: How about we test half of the US with gun control, half without, put up a big tall border between them and see which one works?

Me: *that was a joke*

JS: It’s a “fact,” D, that New York has gun control; it’s a “fact” that gun-related crime occurs there. It’s also a “fact” that most guns bought and sold within the City are of questionable legality, but were legally purchased in places like Virginia to start out with. However, it’s not a “fact” but a mere hypothesis that “gun-related crime cannot be prevented by gun control because it doesn’t work in New York”. You have to ask WHY it doesn’t work in New York, and the most obvious answer to that is that “because guns are available outside New York but easy to bring into New York, so New York’s gun regulations are irrelevant.” Of course implementing a stricter regional or national regime would not result in the instantaneous drying up of the trade in guns, but that’s not a very good reason for refusing to consider it, because over a period of time it would get harder and harder to obtain them outside the lawful framework. This has happened in Australia over the last 20 years or so.

D: It’s a ‘fact’ that the right to bear arms is not part of the Constitution of Australia. None of the rest of what you post is a ‘fact’. It is your opinion and you are welcome to it.

R: No schools

Me: Great debate! JS—you must remove your silly hat for this convo. [JS is wearing an elf hat in his profile photo.]

JS: The right to a “well-regulated militia” is part of our constitution. And I don’t claim my position is fact. I pointed out that yours is a hypothesis, and criticized it from a scientific standpoint.

D: It’s not a debate, as debates rely solely on facts. Here’s some other facts, guns are made here, guns are made overseas, guns are pretty easily homemade, guns are legally and illegally imported into the country every minute of every hour, of every day. The right to bear arms IS a part of our Constitution, the stated purpose of bearing those arms is a well regulated militia—a term open to interpretation. John, your argument isn’t ‘scientific’ in the least. What is it with men needing to use that term for everything? Sillyness. You’re entitled to your opinion, I simply don’t agree.

JS: Whatever. You are entitled to your opinion too.

Me: What’s crazy about this is that shootings happen every day and doesn’t spark these types of conversations. It’s the innocence of children in our school system that gets our attention… but not the innocence of children in harm’s way outside of schools, in neighborhoods we may not live in. I don’t think there’s one size fits all solution. I don’t think it’s all about regulation or ALL about mental illness or how we interpret the constitution that was written in so many years ago. It’s a complex issue that will require complex thinking and testing and who the hell knows what. But something has to happen. Something’s gotta give. A lot of things gotta give. And I think we all want the same outcome: Safety for our children at school and anywhere they go.

T: What will it take? Selflessness, more specifically selfless parenting.

Me: Yes, T! Maybe what we truly need are parenting licenses, too.

D: If we could assist the thousands of homeless kids in this country I bet that would be a good start!

L2: Make guns less accessible.

And that’s where the convo ended. For now.

It comes down to our kids. And parenting. Right? And recognizing when our kids need our help—having our eyes wide open. Paying attention to others’ kids, too. Afterall, some parents may be experiencing their own problems. Educating parents about how to recognize these things. But then what about those parents who think they know how to raise their own kids? What’s going to get them to pay attention or accept the education? Do we need to require licenses for parenting like we do for marriage?

Would gun regulation help? I don’t know. But I don’t think it could hurt, either.

I’m not some extreme lefty trying to get rid of guns. I am just a concerned parent and one who is also concerned about other children of the world. They deserve our protection and I want to know what it’s gonna take. And I want to know what the f*ck I can do about it.

What do you think?


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Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: elephant archives

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