It happened again.
Seventeen people were gunned down at random. At a school. Again.
Our great nation has seen almost 300 school shootings since 2013 and 19 in 2018 so far, including Wednesday’s massacre in Parkland, Florida. When I look at the maps popping up all over Facebook, marking the locations with bright red dots, my throat closes up. How long until it happens in my town? How long until it happens in yours?
I shouldn’t have to add worrying about my child’s safety to the list of concerns running through my head every morning as I pack their lunches — and yet, here we are. Once again asking ourselves: How many innocent children have to die before something changes?
Every mother I know has that question running through her head today — yes, even the ones who own and use firearms; even the ones who staunchly support the 2nd Amendment. We’re asking because our children are sitting in their classrooms right now, learning about the digestive system and multiplication and famous African-Americans in honor of Black History Month. The teachers are asking, too, because their bodies are what will attempt to block my children from potential harm and that definitely was not covered in their job description.
“Yes, Ms. Wagner, we would love to hire you! Just one thing, though — chances are, you’ll end up having to deal with a madman on a killing spree at some point during your time here. Don’t worry, we have procedures in place. All we ask is that you prevent your students from being fatally shot, which is why we’ve made sure to include lots of storage closet space in the classrooms. Just don’t fill them up with actual supplies, okay? Gotta leave some room for the kids to hide.”
The horrifying shooting that took place in Parkland, Florida this week was it for me. My personal line in the sand. I will no longer sit idly by, numbed out to the news, wondering what to do. If lawmakers aren’t willing or capable of doing something to keep our children safe, then I will gather up all the resources I have at my disposal and use them. Doing nothing is no longer an option.
I’m not a political activist. I’m just a typical middle class American mother trying to keep her head above water, raise good kids, and pay my bills on time. I’m a registered Independent who doesn’t donate to any causes, and terms like lobbying and agendas and budgets make my eyes glaze over. I hate politics and reading about boring stuff like legislature and state laws, but you know what I hate more? The thought of my 9-year-old having to hide in a closet while his classmates are being shot to death.
That is unacceptable, and I refuse to sit back and simply pray for an end to it all.
So this is what I’ve done so far today instead:
- I texted 644-33 from my cell phone and got a message back thanking me for joining the fight against gun violence in America. I entered my zip code and immediately received a response that included a link, which hooked me up to my local chapter of Moms Demand Action. Guess what? I live in my state’s capitol city, which means that the capitol building is literally 15 minutes from my house. So yes, I’m planning to get very familiar with what lobbying actually looks like.
- Next, I received a text message which asked if I would like to call my representative to reject the current gun law agenda. Yes, thank you for asking, I WOULD LIKE THAT VERY MUCH. When I replied, my phone literally dialed the correct phone number in Washington, D.C. and I was able to leave a voice message for my representative stating that I need him to get it together. (Okay, I didn’t actually say that. I wanted to, believe me — but I refrained.)
- I emailed our school principal to find out what security measures are in place and asked how I can help make the school safer. What I mean by “help” is, can I call the school board? Do I need to start a petition for funding more secured doorways and entrances? What does the school need from me, as a parent, to make our children and teachers safer?
- I immediately started talking to every single parent I encountered about the problem and what we, as parents and citizens, can do to prevent it, or if that’s not possible, to prepare for it.
- I found a book that I’m ordering to help me talk to my young children about what’s happening without scaring the living crap out of them. If my kids respond well, I’ll donate a whole box of them to our elementary school teachers.
- I’m educating myself about the laws in my state. P.S. The nearest Walmart is 5 miles from my house. I can buy a gun there. WHY?
- I’m making time for self-care. Yes, that’s right. Because I can’t save the world all by myself and if I completely freak out, which is what I feel like doing right now, my kids will freak out too. And I can’t have that. I have to remain calm. This is a marathon, people.
My youngest son is 6 years old. He doesn’t even know how to ride a bike without training wheels, yet he’s having lockdown drills at school to learn what to do so he doesn’t get killed. I’m not okay with that, and if you feel the same, let’s join together and make something happen. It’s becoming clearer ever that we can’t wait another day.