It was the first day of school at a beautiful school beginning its 3rd year since opening, and my 3rd year of teaching high school math. A short 2.5 years prior, I sat in one of my college curriculum classes, watching the live reporting of the horrifying Columbine shooting, the first mass school shooting I can remember. Now, I was a teacher at a school just 40 minutes from Columbine.
First period, as I described class policies to my students, all looking like bright new pennies in their 1st day of school outfits, our principal, a 1st year head principal, came over the intercom and said, “Teachers, this is a lock down. This is not a drill.”
Whether you believe that the mass school shootings are a result of inadequate weapons control, too much power among the NRA, the responsibility of the school and administration, a complete lack of parental involvement, negligence and improper care of the mental health of our citizens, a pharmaceutical industry doing 446 billion dollars in sales (as of 2016) who knows about but refuses to acknowledge the P-450 pathway and MTHFR gene mutations that prevent some individuals from properly metabolizing their products to the point that they become psychotic and homicidal, or Satan himself at play, let me tell you about few of the things that are the SAME in this world.
*In the moment of hiding 30+ nearly adult-size individuals, no one wants to be the one to decide which ones are going to remain closest to the door or most visible.
*The rush of adrenaline in first responders who race through the hallway is palpable through concrete walls.
*The rattling of the door knob by administrators assuring that panicked teachers have thought to lock the classroom door is one of the loudest sounds you will ever hear as you sit in silence and uncertainty of knowing which of your friends could be dying down the hallway
*Tears silently pouring from teenagers, some who had family and friends in the Columbine massacre, can not be so easily wiped away.
*There’s an acute sense of helplessness and lack of preparation, despite being highly qualified and fully prepared to do one’s job and walking in ready to own that day and set the tone for an amazing and productive year.
*The adrenaline crash after the crisis is over can make the body ache for days, even after finding out that there was no intruder on campus. The lock-down protocol was called into action at our open-campus school due to a manhunt following a burglary in the surrounding neighborhood.
*Just one encounter such as this will singe the “as long as it’s not my child” mentality people of this country choose to entertain. And lets’s face it, we’re not just talking mass school shootings.
Regardless of what or who one might believe to be at fault in a world where ALL of today’s school-age children have ALWAYS known mass school shootings to be a thing, let’s pull it together and acknowledge that we have not 1 problem, but many. This issue is not just a matter of our country’s policy on weapons. It is so far from that, but, hey, guess what. Of all of the contributing factors, weapon control is very likely the one our country’s leaders and citizens actually have the most immediate control over. Yeah, think about that for a minute.
What I find to be scariest about the subject of mass school shootings is that it’s been nearly 20 years since this problem surfaced in a way that everyone not living under a rock knew of it, and look where we are now.
It’s time for action, friends.