Stop Senseless Tragic School Shootings

No more. Enough. Stop senseless tragic school shootings. Since 2013, there have been nearly 300 school shootings in America — an average of about one a week.

Yet in the aftermath of the horrific massacre in Parkland Florida, our leaders still refuse to discuss changing gun control policy to protect our most vulnerable citizens – American youth.

When did sending your child to school become as dangerous as playing Russian roulette?

To Europeans, the solution to America’s gun violence seems like a no-brainer. Fewer guns in circulation equals less gun fatalities.

In hindsight experts analyze the red flags, and suggest school personnel should have recognized the warning signs, which is like passing the responsibility for the crime to the victim.

The students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School practiced code red lockdown drills, took proper precautions and followed safety measures, but no training can prepare one to intervene at the right instance to prevent another tragedy. Human nature is too unpredictable.

Do we really want to turn our schools into gated fortresses patrolled by armed guards?

We cannot eliminate violence. We cannot eradicate mental illness. We cannot foresee the exact instance when a troubled teen tips to the dark side.

But we can do more to keep guns out of the hands of children.

Other nations have done so successfully. In May 1996, just weeks after a deadly shooting in a shop in Port Aurthur Tasmania, Australia enacted a nationwide gun law reform. Since then mass shootings dropped to zero. Like Australia, Great Britain enacted some of the world’s strictest gun-control measures following mass shootings in the late ‘80s and ‘90s to curtail violence.

Part of the American dichotomy baffling Europeans is our obsession with the 2nd amendment – the right to keep and bear arms. Back in 1791, when the constitution was drawn up, this amendment made sense considering the political situation and risks faced by our young nation. That logic makes no sense today.

What kind of world are we creating when people feel a need to carry a gun to the grocery store, corner cafe, and local school for safety?

As a nation, we need to rethink our deeply ingrained notions of individual rights for the greater good of humanity. We need to set political differences aside and calmly discuss ways in which gun law reforms can curtail violence.

I am not talking about weapons used for hunting. There is a huge difference between inheriting grandpa’s old Winchester for tracking deer in the Wisconsin wilderness and aiming an AR-15 semi automatic rifle at a classroom of children. No one except for military and law enforcement officers needs to own assault weapons.

We have to stop pointing fingers of blame at the school. Coming from a long line of educators, I believe wholeheartedly in value of education. Having taught 30 years in the US and European international schools, I witnessed firsthand societal changes within the school setting in four different countries. Working with troubled teens goes with the territory, but we cannot blame the students, teachers, and other officials for failing to intervene in time to prevent deadly shoot-outs.

Even with the best training, adequate safety measures, and ample information sharing, we will never be able to predict human behavior.

When guns are as readily accessible as candy at the nearest five and dime, when laws defending gun ownership are greater than those protecting individual safety and when school shootings continue to rise at alarming rates, we need make some changes.

When our President blames mental illness for school shootings instead of addressing gun control issues about firearm accessibility and lethality, we have to question our leadership.

When active shooter safety drills become a mandatory part of the curriculum, we are all in deep trouble.

What are we, as a society, teaching our children?


Comments

  1. Barbara Carlson

    Well said, Pat. I couldn’t agree with you more! Please send a copy to your congressional reps…we must keep on them!

  2. Nancy Davis Kho

    What Barbara said – send it to your reps, and all of us need to do more to keep this at the forefront of the national discourse. As discouraged and heartbroken as I feel, I’ve taken strength this week from a friend who reminded me that at one point, the Tobacco Industry seemed invincible, and now their impact has been much curtailed. We can do this.

    1. Pat McKinzie

      Yes, Nancy as you say we need to keep this at the forefront. Hopefully those in power to legislate change will listen to the voice of youth who are speaking out now. I will take hope in your friend’s comment about the change that was finally made in the Tobacco Industry. One has to keep hope for change alive.

  3. Lee isbell

    I was reading a “debate” in Facebook today about this week’s shooting and other recent shootings. There was one person whose response to every proposal for gun control was that he needed to be as heavily armed as the government for when the government comes after him to take away his weapons. There was no way of prying him away from his paranoia. I fear this is not an isolated opinion and these people would go to civil war just to prove themselves right.

    1. Pat McKinzie

      I can’t get my head around the deeply ingrained belief so many have that to assure safety we need more weapons. It seems so illogical. The statistics about gun violence and also suicide rates (which I did not mention) is so much higher in the US than in other countries, proves how false that line of reasoning is. I am not sure how we can open the dialogue. Hopefully, perhaps, voices of the youth that are now speaking out will be heard.

    1. Pat McKinzie

      Each time a school shooting occurs, I am shocked and think this cannot be happening again. And then it happens again. And again. What we can do as a society to stop this madness?

  4. Alana

    I work in a community that suffered a mass shooting in April of 2009 (14 dead in an adult education classroom for immigrants, including the teacher of the class) so this resonates with me. It’s never the right time to discuss, according to some. Only we the people can force the issue, and I keep wondering, when will the tipping point be? How many more will die?

    1. Pat McKinzie

      Alana, I am so sorry that you were involved in a community touched by such a heartbreaking scenario. I hope that our leaders will listen to the voices of the students and families who know best the devastating consequences of gun violence. NOW is the right time to seriously discuss ways of reforming our gun control legislation before anymore innocent lives are ruined.

  5. Rachael Jefferson-Buchanan

    Very well written Pat. A subject that is close to my heart as you know. Tragedy will always strike when a gun user is not mentally stable, on drugs, etc. Laws need to be changed, and soon. We live in the 21st century now and these laws are not only outmoded but are also highly gendered. Maybe do what the Brits did with Brexit and have a national referendum? What would be the response do you think? xx

    1. Pat McKinzie

      I am so sorry for the loss you endure everyday due to the gun violence that touched your own family. I think we should take a lesson from the UK and Australia when it comes to gun control. Perhaps the voice of the families and children who experience the lost firsthand will be heard and can lead that revolution. Like many Americans who abhor the use and abuse of guns, I cannot fathom why we continue to defend the right to bear arms, when the consequences are so tragic and heartbreaking.

      1. Rachael Jefferson-Buchanan

        Thanks Pat. You are very kind and wise. America needs women like you in politics! I agree, we can always learn from other countries. The research should influence policy not traditions from a bygone era. Lots of love xx

        1. Pat McKinzie

          Oh you are too funny Rach. Pat for President… ha ha. I have never had an interest in politics, but don’t you sometimes wonder though if we couldn’t have done a better job.

  6. Rena

    I agree wholeheartedly! I don’t think anyone but the police or military need to have these kinds of guns. They are only meant to kill people. It’s so maddeningly simple to me…why not to the politicians! Of course, I’m not being paid by the gun lobbyists.

    1. Pat McKinzie

      Rena, why do the gun lobbyist have so much power? Is really all about money? How can anyone who witnesses such atrocities advocate for the right to carry guns? I feel such despair and I am not sure why, when so many people seem to think the way we do, that issues concerning gun control laws continue to be ignored by our government.

  7. Helene Cohen Bludman

    It might just be that these Parkland students are the change makers. Their voices are so eloquent and their passion is affecting millions of Americans who are so fed up with the NRA and the gun culture.

    1. Pat McKinzie

      Yes,those students are making their voices heard and hopefully that momentum will lead others in power to bring about change. Too many families have been heartbroken due to gun violence. Now is the time to take a strong stand and shout.

  8. Debbie

    Nobody needs an assault rifle, especially not a troubled kid who’s not even old enough to buy a beer or vote! Hunters don’t need them, average citizens don’t need them, even homeowners or business owners don’t need them. They should be banned — period. And arming classroom teachers isn’t a realistic solution either. We must keep talking about this subject until we have a solution that works. Thanks for helping the dialog to move forward, my friend!

    1. Pat McKinzie

      Once again we seem to be on the same page, Debbie. As a former teacher I totally agree that arming classroom teachers would make the school climate even more dangerous and it is totally unrealistic expectation of teachers. I hope that the powers to be will listen to voice of youth and start moving forward towards dialogue about gun control rather then taking more steps to create a military state by handing out weapons.

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