I feel safe. Except at school.
Handguns? I don’t care. Hunting rifles? Whatever. But semi-automatic weapons? No way! And furthermore, gun owners should prove stable with no known history of violence.
One year after congress voted that no CDC funds could be used to promote gun control and three years before Columbine, I began teaching. There have been 122 school deaths since Columbine. These are the worst:
In addition to regular fire drills, we practice lock downs, secure the school, and clear the hall drills. My personal children (who now attend high school) don’t know a life without fear. We’re told protocols assure us of our safety, but since February 14, 2018, something has shifted.
Each morning I hug my kids tighter as I say goodbye and send them off, then greet my young students and their parents at my classroom door. It’s overwhelming, exhausting, sad, and maddening to teach right now.
But there is hope.
Vermont’s bill S55, subtitled as “disposition of unlawful, abandoned firearms,” is regarded as a “gun control” bill and was approved by Senate and is now under House review. Phil Scott needs only to sign it so Vermont can make the first step toward waking from this out-of-control nightmare. We can stop hiding in corners. Feeling fear. Promoting it.
On March 24th, 2018 I stood —with countless others including Congressman Peter Welch and Senator Bernie Sanders— on the steps of the Vermont statehouse for the March for Our Lives. Handmade signs dotted the crowd: “I TEACH. Arm Me With Resources, Not Guns,” “Am I Next?,” “Not One More,” “Glue Guns not Hand Guns,” and so on. The positive energy pulsated as we held hands and chanted, “Sign the Bill! Sign the Bill!”
My dad had a handgun, but I never knew until I was a teenager. He stored it under his side of my parent’s mattress, but aside putting a farm animal out of its misery, we had no “need” for it. The day my parents bought a new mattress, I watched them remove the old one. Dad’s gun clunked to the floor as some sort of afterthought and it took me a second to figure out what it was. To this day, I can’t be sure if it was loaded and I never asked.
He chuckled. “Leave that there. It’s for emergencies,” and I didn’t give it another thought.
Things have gotten worse since the 1980’s when I was a teenager. As a country, we have taken the second amendment too far. What about our fourteenth amendment, which concerns deprivation of life and liberty? Let’s consider the rights of ALL involved. Kids and teachers shouldn’t have to hide in the corner or throw rocks at an intruder. My job is to broaden minds… extend horizons, not whisper stories under my breath while we await the “all clear.”
Can you hear me shouting from my corner? “Sign the bill! Sign the bill!”