Yesterday, my six-year-old had a lockdown drill at his kindergarten. As he described it to me this morning, I said “It’s like you’re hiding in your classroom.” He said “Mom, we WERE hiding.” I’m not sure how this is explained to kindergartners, but my 2nd grader definitely knows that they could be hiding from a gunman (or gunwoman) when they do these drills. What gets me is that I could not, with confidence, promise that they’re preparing for something that will never happen in their school. As a parent, I just have to have faith that it’s not OUR town, OUR school, where this happens next.
Growing up in eastern Ohio, I was accustomed to a gun culture. Most men, and some women, in my rural community hunted. My grandfather was an avid hunter, planning annual hunting trips to Wyoming, Maine, or Canada with his buddies. My dad wasn’t necessarily a hunter, but kept a gun or two around for groundhogs or other pests. My brother loved hunting, and we had plenty of taxidermy in our house between he and my grandfather. I’ve shot rifles and BB guns (are those the same?) a couple of times. Hunting and owning multiple guns was just a part of life in the country.
Fast-forward to May 1999. I remember where I was when Columbine happened. I remember the names of the shooters. Fast-forward to December 2013. I was in the cloud of new motherhood with baby #3 when Sandy Hook happened. But I remember nursing my baby in the middle of the night watching a video on my phone—with Tangled’s “I See the Light” as the soundtrack– memorializing a 6-year-old little girl, the oldest of 3, who’d died in Sandy Hook. Now fast-forward to 2019. How many shootings have we had? How many victims? How many shooters? How many weeks/months have passed since our last school shooting? Have you lost track? Because I have.
I have a little bit of personal experience with school shootings. I got my MBA from Case Weatherhead School of Management in 2006. In 2002, they had opened a brand new building, the Peter B Lewis Building, designed by Frank Gehry. It’s a beautiful school, which you would expect from Gehry architecture. In spring 2003, a former student entered the school heavily armed, and a 7-hour standoff ensued with one fatality and numerous non-fatal shootings. Ironically, the Gehry design, with no right angles and a decentralized design, made it even more difficult for the SWAT team to isolate the shooter. I knew this had happened, but I didn’t really think about it during my application to the school. When I began my MBA classes in 2004, I assumed that this was history, the shooter being someone from the community (it’s not in the best part of town), and that I probably didn’t really know anyone impacted. I was shocked in late 2005 when the case went to trial and so many of the testimonies came from people I interacted with on a daily basis. I knew an administrative assistant who had hovered under her desk for 7 hours. I knew the wheelchair-bound economics professor who had flopped out of his wheelchair and played dead. I knew the IT guy who was the ultimate target of the gunman’s ire. I knew many staff members who’d called loved ones to say they probably wouldn’t be coming home that day. This hit me hard. We had days of classes canceled for the jury to walk through our school. No longer was I detached from school shootings. This became very real for me as I walked the halls that had been stained by blood not-so-long before.
Still, these were adults. It feels different knowing that children, my children, could be the next victims.
What really gets me is that I’m represented in Congress by someone with an A+ rating from the NRA and has been completely silent on school shootings.
–> Let’s flood his inbox, mailbox, and phone lines demanding some attention be paid to school shootings.
DC Office: (202) 225-6265
Ashland Office: (419) 207-0650
Canton Office: (330) 737-1631
Snail Mail: Representative Bob Gibbs, 2446 Rayburn HOB, Washington DC 20515