My dad often told me, after he would read my work, to “write about what you know.” I’d like to dedicate today’s column to my dad, and for every parent on the face of this planet.
Today’s column was written and re-written multiple times, because I didn’t want to write something that was filled with angst and despair. I strive to leave a positive mark in everything that I write, in the hopes that it will inspire and teach.
Over the weekend, I drove to Lowe’s in Hicksville and purchased a rubberized door stop. After my daughter got home from work, I handed her the doorstop and told her to place it in her bag. “It’s a little added extra security.” I explained in detail how it might “buy her a little time,” in the event of a school shooting.
I know that I shouldn’t need to have this conversation with my daughter, who will be starting a position as a permanent substitute teacher in another district. She has been through many “active shooter drills” throughout her career as a student at Hicksville High School. She knows what to do to keep herself safe, at least according to the standards set by the administration and powers that be. My husband and I have told her a few other pointers, to keep herself and her students safe. Truth be told, I’m beyond frightened. I’m also pretty angry that I have to tell my daughter how to avoid getting shot at a place where she and her students should be safe. And while shootings at schools are considered “rare”, the numbers of those shootings is increasing.
I know that we live in dangerous times, where dangerous people can get their hands on dangerous weapons, quite easily. A friend of mine mentioned that her husband, who is a former police officer, had to instruct their middle schooler about ways to keep himself safe, if the unthinkable were to happen. These are not conversations that we ever imagined in our wildest dreams, but the sad reality is, we must keep them safe, even if we can’t be with them.
When I worked as a registered nurse for Hicksville High School, we practiced active shooter drills, and they were nothing short of terrifying. One may have locked the door, blackened the window, and shut off the lights. However, if the shooter were to attempt to fire from the outside of the building, the full-wall length window was problematic. If children were inside the health office at the time of a possible shooting, where would they go? The closet could only hold so many students. Were the windows bullet-proof? How safe was “safe?”
I know that tragedies happen, in concert halls and malls and train stations throughout the nation and the world. But I’m sick and tired of it happening. And I’m sure you all are, too. Enough is enough, and it’s time to make those in charge accountable. It’s time to make new laws that protect the young and old from harm by weaponry.
While there are many who are responsible gun owners out there, I know this: Nobody on this fine green Earth needs a semi-automatic weapon that is designed to kill large numbers of living beings with a single magazine. Emergency physicians with experience know that injuries from an AR-15 are catastrophic. Major organs can be literally blown to smithereens internally, or shredded so completely that the victim bleeds out before they arrive at a trauma center. I know this as well: Unless you are in the military, or you are a member of a tactical SWAT team, you do not need an AR-15 weapon. If you’re a hunter, you already know that there are properly controlled deer hunting tools in place, so it isn’t necessary to decimate a herd.
I’m not saying that responsible gun owners should not have guns, because I believe in our Constitution. However, amendments were meant to be amended. Assault weapons and semi-automatic weapons that can be turned into automatic weapons via bump stocks should never be in the hands of ordinary civilians. It is time to put an end to the madness, and it is time for change.
I know that nobody is voiceless, even if one cannot speak. We each have the power of the pen, and we must use it to effect change. Speak up, speak out, do something. Write to your local representatives, or call them and tell them how you feel. This is not a time to shirk the responsibility that we all bear. If we want to make America great again, we must be willing to accept the workload. Both of my parents always said that there was strength in numbers.
As the lyrics in Les Miserables state so eloquently, “Will you join in the crusade? Who will be strong and stand with me?” It’s time for us to be strong, and to get involved, for the safety of our children and for each other. I know I’m not backing down, either.