This morning, I walked my 7-year-old into school as I do every day of the week. We had a bit of hectic morning, and everything felt rushed. In the car on the two minute drive to school, my throat started to tighten as we got closer. Did I tell her enough times that I loved her this morning? Was there anger in my voice when I told her for the third time to brush her teeth? I held her hand too tight as we walked towards the gate. When we stopped to say goodbye, I held her too long and told her too many times that I loved her, have a great day, make good choices. Be safe. Please be safe. I took a mental picture of what she was wearing today. And then I watched, fighting back tears, as she skipped into the place she loves. I wondered about the Parkland parents who won’t get to do that this morning. Or ever again.
By now, you’ve all heard the news about the school shooting that claimed the lives of at least 17 people in Parkland, Florida. A former student walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, pulled the fire alarm to get students out into the hallways, and opened fire with an AR-15. We know more today than we did yesterday. The murderer was expelled for disciplinary reasons, and had apparently been abusive to an ex-girlfriend there. He’s said to have “been taken” with another girl, to the point of stalking her. He was deemed too much of a danger to other students to carry a backpack on campus. And yet, he was able to legally purchase an AR-15 and ammunition magazines in the state of Florida.
Parkland is considered one of the safest cities in Florida. And it happened there. Because it can happen anywhere, and it does. In fact, it’s happened 18 times in 2018. It’s been 2018 for 6 fucking weeks.
Parkland, Florida, teacher on CNN who had to hide 19 crying kids in a closet in her classroom: “We did everything we were trained to do in active shooter drills, and still we had mass casualties. I blame our government for not keeping us safe.”
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) February 15, 2018
I don’t even know what to say anymore. Do you? It’s never the “right time” to talk about the fetishisation of guns in the country, and the epidemic of gun violence that continues on and on and on. It’s never the right time to talk about gun control, ANY gun control. The right time never comes because we literally have a second to catch our breath between shootings. “Don’t politicize this tragedy”, say the people who get millions and millions and MILLIONS of dollars from the gun lobby. Politicians send their thoughts and prayers, but never take action. It’s a constant, vicious cycle.
I watched the videos from students on lockdown yesterday. I heard the gunshots, heard their screams. Listened to kids whimper when SWAT came into their classroom to free them. And I’m listening to these kids, some of whom aren’t even old enough to drive, beg our leaders to do something.
Student who survived school shooting: “We need to dig out of this hole… there is something seriously wrong here. And some of our policymakers… need to look in the mirror and take some action because… without action, ideas stay ideas and children die.” https://t.co/Y42waHsOlN pic.twitter.com/sdV9P7yXSn
— CNN (@CNN) February 15, 2018
17 families won’t ever get to say goodbye to their loved ones. Parents lost their precious babies, babies lost their precious parents. When I was in school, my parents worried about if I’d violate dress code again, or score high enough on my AP exams to get college credit. They didn’t worry that someone would come into my classroom and send bullets ripping through my body. EVERY SINGLE DAY that I drop my daughter off at school, a little part of my brain wonders if I’ll see her in 6 1/2 hours. How the fuck is that OK? What the actual fuck is wrong with this country?
We have failed our kids. Time and time and time again. We have failed them in ways that can’t be undone. Our kids shouldn’t fear being shot at school, or church, or a concert. SOMETHING has to be done. How in the world can we look our kids in their eyes and tell them everything is going to be OK, when it clearly isn’t? It’s not OK. This country is not OK.
(Image: Joel Auerbach/AP)