Columbine High School’s shooting happened when I was a sophomore in high school (10th grade). I remember sitting in the sunny second floor classroom in Dr. Gomez’s Spanish class and praying that if we ever had an active shooting, that it would happen when I was in his class.
Dr. Gomez had sat through the staff meetings, read the lockdown protocols, and came up with his own protocol—one that would keep us safe.
He had his stuff together.
With the efficiency of a former tactical military officer, which he wasn’t, Dr. Gomez explained exactly what would happen in case we had an active shooter.
He assigned our three strongest boys to move his metal desk in front of the door, and the four kids sitting by the windows to cover them—something that went against the lockdown protocol entirely.
“Blocking the windows goes against my instructions, but my responsibility as your teacher, is to keep you kids alive. Those protocols won’t do that. If there is a shooter on the roof, they’ll have a direct line of sight into this classroom. We shutter the windows and duck down in this corner. We won’t open the door for anyone so if you’re outside of my classroom, you’re on your own. I can only protect you in here.”
I told you, he knew his stuff.
I was 15 years old and at that time, school shootings were rare and the lockdown drills were a “just in case” preventative measure.
Except, now, school shootings are expected and lockdown drills are the norm.
The kindergarten lockdown nursery rhyme pictured above is an example of how much our children’s lives have changed. How school shootings are no longer a remote possibility but nearly a guarantee.
In 2018, there has been a school shooting incident every week of the year. Want the full list? Click here.
After the Santa Fe school shooting, that left 10 people dead, students admitted that they had expected something like this to happen in their school.
This is not the same country I remember from my childhood…is it?
I have so many questions…
Why are 8th graders in Pennsylvania being gifted bulletproof backpacks before they get to high school?
Why are we cutting funds for mental health research?
Why is the government cutting funds to school safety initiatives by $25M in 2019 after we’ve had 23 school shootings in 21 weeks?
Why are we not investigating guns in school shootings? Betsy Devos refuses to look at guns as a major national issue. Why?
Why are we expecting teachers to act as human shields for our children and yet we still don’t pay them a decent salary? The US national average teacher’s salary is $58k. You can find state-specific data here.
Why did Dr. Gomez, in 1999 (who was way ahead of his time) already understand that the school rules didn’t make sense and wouldn’t keep the kids in his classroom safe? Is it safe to assume that other school policies are also not adequate? Absolutely.
Why haven’t the seemingly unstoppable school shootings prompted any action from our politicians? Why is there zero action whatsoever?
None of this is acceptable to me. None of it.
But I don’t live in the US and there’s only so much advocacy I can do from Sweden. I feel hypocritical taking any strong stance because my kids aren’t in the US school system. My kids aren’t affected by US school shootings and to me, that feels like the ultimate privilege.
Fortunately, we live in a world where people can care about things that don’t necessarily affect them directly.
I don’t need to justify my advocacy and I can and will advocate on behalf of others.
I care deeply about the safety of my extended family, my friends’ kids, and about American society in general.
I care about America because it’s a country that I believe my kids would love to live in someday. We love the diversity, the geography, the opportunity.
But we do not love the willful inaction to address these problems.
We do not love how many parents are in denial about guns until something tragic happens to them personally.
We do not love the blind allegiance to the second amendment.
We do not love the NRA’s influence over our politicians. We do not love many things…
And so I ask you, is this the type of society we want for our kids?
Ways to get involved
Become active in your local chapter of Gun Sense laws: https://momsdemandaction.org/
Call, write, email your state’s senators and tell them that taking no action is unacceptable. Tell them that cutting funds for school safety initiatives is counterproductive: https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
Commit to remaining active and continuing to raise this issue.
School shootings will not magically end without action.