Yes, emotional and mental health is a huge problem in our society. People are feeling without hope, discouraged, unloved, disrespected, shamed and humiliated and bullied. We live in a culture that’s big into shaming each other – it’s not healthy. And we need to address all of that, for sure. But all of that is going to take time. You can’t just put a bandaid on that kind of hurt and call it “fixed.”
A more immediate thing we CAN do is put restrictions on guns. I can understand people owning guns for hunting or recreational target practice. But I see no reason why the type of rapid-fire weapon used by that high schooler should be on the market for anyone to buy. That just seems insane to me.
When the second amendment was added to the Constitution, rapid fire weapons did not exist. (The guns available then were muzzle-loaders.) The first rapid fire, mechanical-loading gun – the Gatling – didn’t appear until 1862. It was created for the Civil War – to kill large numbers of people in a short amount of time. That is the purpose of rapid fire rifles. So, tell me again why YOU need one? -Karen Molenaar Terrell
Below is a photo of my favorite gun in my gun collection. Circa 1977. Quickly tossed to me by a guy named Brad (or maybe Phil?) so I could defend myself during an epic squirt gun battle at Washington State University. It didn’t hold much ammo, but it was quick and light and the water could actually go pretty far. It was a state-of-the-art weapon for that time and highly dependable – it did what I needed it to do for me – it got a lot of people wet.
A Facebook acquaintance recently suggested that high school students are incapable of original thought, and that the students from Parkland are being fed their lines by the “corrupt media” and “corrupt teachers.”
I’m a high school teacher. I’ve been teaching for more than 20 years. I know kids. I know the wisdom they’re capable of expressing. I have witnessed, first-hand, the intelligence and original thought of high school students. I don’t know about high school students from what FOX news is telling me about high school students – I know about high school students because I work with them every day. As a high school teacher I can assure you that there are high school students who are far more articulate, informed, and well-spoken than some adults I have met. The students from Parkland did not need to be “coached” to speak – they did not need to have ideas about gun violence fed to them by the media or their teachers – they lived through a school shooting – they saw their friends shot and killed – they have far more first-hand experience with gun violence in schools than the average adult. They are the experts – and it’s time to listen to them.
I once had to spend a day sequestered in a small room with my students because of concerns about our safety. I have experienced that kind of fear, first-hand. I am talking from experience here. Not from what FOX news has told me. I once (years ago – before Columbine) had a student tell me he could bring a gun to school and kill me. I know what that kind of threat feels like. And so when someone outside of education – someone who doesn’t have to worry about how he’s going to save his students if someone with a gun should suddenly appear in the door – tells me how I should feel about it all and cavalierly tells me that teachers should be armed – that that’s going to fix this mess – I get really frustrated. I’ve come to realize that, to some people, guns matter more than the lives of students and teachers.
That hurts, man.
We need to listen to the people who are dealing with this threat every single day – the students and teachers who are walking into schools not knowing if they’re going to be walking out at the end of the day. Don’t discount their stories. Don’t belittle them. They are the ones on the front lines now.
I’m a teacher. I’m not a Marine. I do not want to have to make the choice to shoot one child to save another. I don’t want to be put in a position where I might be responsible for “collateral damage” that might include my own students. I don’t want to have to walk around my class with an assault rifle slung over my shoulder while I’m teaching a lesson on cosines and tangents, or Shakespeare, or the geography of Asia – a gun might be kind of a distraction to my students, you know? Do not think that you are solving the problem of school shootings by arming teachers. Frankly, that is one of the most ludicrous, insane, nonsensical propositions I have ever heard.
Did you all see the video clip of the high schoolers protesting at the White House today? Young people are not going to put up with crap. They aren’t going to put up with homophobia, racism, corporate greed, self-serving politicians or the NRA. Our young people give me hope for this world. They are articulate, educated, informed, and they know how to “spread the word” to each other.
“Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’.
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.
“Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.”
– Bob Dylan
A friend of mine – a brilliant and thoughtful young man – someone who describes himself as “conservative” – who’s currently serving in the United States Navy and dedicated to protecting our Constitution – sent me a really articulate message the other day. Because he’s someone who knows guns and has been trained to use them in service to our country, I thought he offered a valuable perspective. I asked him if I could share his thoughts. He gave me permission. (Because of his position in the military I’m going to keep his name anonymous.) Here’s what he wrote:
“Hey Karen. I know this is a scary time for all of you teachers, especially with what happened. As you know, I am more conservative, but I think you would agree with my view on gun control: the Constitution explicitly states: ‘A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.’ Most conservatives miss the important line: A WELL REGULATED MILITIA. To me, that does not mean random citizens stockpiling weapons in their garage, or people buying high-powered weapons to simply play with. It means well-organized, trained, local security groups with standardized training and security practices, and that training should be coming from standardized government entities, such as the National Guard. At least, that’s how I interpret it. So when the NRA loudly states that ‘all civilians should be able to buy guns and that they need guns if the government tries to take over their rights’ I can’t help but laugh. Because if the government even tried to do that, the military would be obligated to protect the citizenry against the government due to its oath to the constitution and the country. That is my view. Gun control solutions and mental health solutions must be pursued at the same time. There are so many mental health resources out there that schools and hospitals simply don’t take seriously or under utilize.”
“Wisdom is better than weapons of war…” Ecclesiastes 9:18
This might help you understand where I am right now: This morning as I was getting dressed I debated whether I should wear my Danskos or my Skechers. I decided on the Skechers. If I need to be able to move fast, help my students get out of the building, and jump for the tree outside my office window, I think Skechers would work best, right?
Yeah. God is Love. Love will protect. And so forth. I believe that. But Love also provides us with the wisdom, and Mind provides us with the intelligence, to take the sensible steps we need to take in our human lives. Just as Jesus didn’t leap out of the tower when he was tempted to (“Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God”) – I believe we need to not throw ourselves out of 12-story windows to see if God will save us. And we need not make available to private citizens the type of guns that were designed to kill large numbers of people in a very short time. Common sense, people. Common sense.
Someone commented on one of my posts that more people get struck by lightning every year than have been killed in school shootings. About that: If you choose to stand on the top of a hill holding a metal rod during a lightning storm your odds of being struck by lightning increase a lot. And if we, as a society, choose to allow these types of guns in the hands of people who have no business owning them, we shouldn’t be surprised if a lot of innocent people die.
We could have a world where
children – all children
went to school and were safe
and didn’t need to worry
about losing their lives while
they tried to get an education
We could have a world where
all people – of every gender and race,
religion and age and political party
were treated equally, without bias
or discrimination or prejudice
or bullying, or bigotry
We could have a world where
everyone cared about protecting
the environment and the creatures
who share Earth and no one
tried to take more than they
needed, and people shared
We could have a world in which
we pooled our resources to feed
the hungry, and heal the sick,
and shelter the homeless, and
educate the ignorant, and reach
for the stars
– Karen Molenaar Terrell
“The rich in spirit help the poor in one grand brotherhood, all having the same Principle, or Father; and blessed is that man who seeth his brother’s need and supplieth it, seeking his own in another’s good.”
– Mary Baker Eddy