When I was a kid, it was assassinations. In line at the First National, our favorite grocery store check out lady, Stella, a small woman with a foot of sprayed black hair on her head told us that President Kennedy had been killed. I was four and I watched my mom cry. At nine, I had my tonsils out and was in a lot of pain. In the middle of the night, my dad woke me up and carried me downstairs to the tv and said, “Robert Kennedy was shot, this is history.” Earlier that year, in April, Martin Luther King was also assassinated, stripping the country of a man who changed it. Three in a row.
Now it’s school shootings. There have been 74 since Sandy Hook, a town that I grew up next door to. What are we doing? What’s going on? How can this have happened 74 times since that massacre in Newtown? I want to stand in the street today and scream that we have to save our kids. I feel like I’m watching some lame movie and yelling from the audience, “Just change the gun laws. Awww, this is such a stupid plot, why isn’t anybody changing the gun laws?”
Our kids are going to school and not coming home. And not because they’re kissing in the back seat of a car, or smoking in the woods. No, it’s much worse than that. School has historically been a place that was safe. But that’s changed. And somehow I feel, we’re all just letting it happen. Are we getting desensitized to the sound bite, the “breaking news” that “there’s been another school shooting.”
This is clearly a multi dimensional issue made up of gun laws and mental health access, but it’s also something else. Something that I wonder about. What is it about this time in our history that has made kids act out in this particular way? Certainly there were students that were mentally unbalanced and had access to guns when I was a kid, who didn’t put them in their back packs with their bologna sandwiches, and plans to shoot up the student council. Why? What’s different? Is it increased social pressure, from the smiling faces on social media? Is it the violence of video games? Is it the shoot ’em up movies Hollywood is producing? Is it the isolation that can come by way of a generation glued to their computers? Those are all things that were not present in my childhood. And so I wonder, is this combination of things that have tipped troubled kids into acting out by killing their classmates?
I don’t have any answers. Except one. We have to do what we can to make gun laws stricter TODAY. Before this happens again. And before we are no longer moved when it does.