2 mass shootings (that drew national attention) within a week. Are we getting back to normal here in the United States? Are mass shootings a sign of normalcy? I’m afraid so. Let me be clear: I’m literally afraid.
While I can’t wait to move on from the (at times) crushing anxiety of #pandemiclife, I am terrified for what lies ahead.
I’m trading Covid anxiety for mass shooting anxiety.
At least with Covid, we could social distance. We could wear a mask and follow CDC guidelines. Now, we can get a vaccine and be very nearly immune to Coronavirus.
But we can’t develop immunity to guns.
Instead, our children will run drills at school, hide behind a barricade of desks, and rely on their teachers to protect themselves from an armed gunman. And note, I use the gendered term “gunman” because pretty much all mass shooters are males. I can be even more specific, too: pretty much all shooters are white males.
If I am making you uncomfortable, I am not sorry. I am naming facts. It is the facts that make you uncomfortable. And they should.
Hear me: I am not a journalist. I am not here to report facts and figures surrounding gun violence. But there are some pretty staggering figures you should know about. Or to tell you who to vote for in your local and federal elections. I’m also not a sociologist or a mental health expert that can speak to why white men seem to inflict this violence upon our society. Why often there is a racial or misogynistic element to these mass shootings.
I am here as a mom to sound an alarm. Wake up. We are in danger of even more mass shootings after the pandemic.
We are coming out of one of the most intense crises of our country’s history. A full-blown pandemic complete with mass death, crippling fear, and a complete upheaval of our social systems (schools, an employment crisis and so on). We will be dealing with the fallout of this crisis for years, maybe decades. It has wreaked havoc on so many people’s lives.
And what do some members of our society do when they are in a crisis? They grab an assault rifle and head to a crowded place.
I am terrified. Absolutely terrified. If it sounds like I am coming from a place of fear, rather than strength, it’s true. If this piece reads as a hysterical mom freaking out, it is true. I am absolutely freaking out. And why aren’t you?
It all comes back to our children.
A few years ago, I attended kindergarten orientation for my daughter. We got to tour the school, meet her teacher and sit in her classroom. Upon entering the school, I discovered her classroom was the first door on the left. Located about 10 feet from the main entrance. Anyone who got into the school — who didn’t belong there and know the front office was ahead to the right — would find that classroom door right away. First.
I lost my mind.
I started sweating, I turned cold and I could barely breathe. My husband looked at me, while the teacher described what snack time would be like, and asked “what’s going on? are you OK?” All I could do was mouth, “no” and tell him I couldn’t speak about it now. In my mind I wondered if he would think I was crazy. If he would think I was overreacting.
When I broke down later, when we were out of the school, all he could do was hold me and acknowledge his own fear. He didn’t think I was crazy. He was scared for our daughter, too.
This is America. Ain’t it grand?
Throughout my daughter’s kindergarten year, her teacher and I communicated extensively. She was ready. She told me about the window in her classroom she was prepared to throw kids out of, if necessary. The fear kept her up at night, too. We cried together more than once. Always quietly, always out of sight.
If we are heading back to normal, we need to work to make normal different. Normal needs to be safer.
An astounding number of people in our country support stricter gun laws yet 68% of our population doesn’t believe Congress is going to pass anything (stat found within previous link). Do you know your state’s gun laws? Our writer, Carolyn, wrote an informative post about gun safety and NH schools you should read if you live here.
This isn’t about politics, it’s about going to the grocery store and not being gunned down. Or watching a movie in a theater without the threat of an assault rifle. It’s about kissing our kids in the morning before school and not worrying it might be goodbye forever.
Wake up. It’s time. Get involved. Give money. Make calls. Don’t wait until it’s you hiding in a grocery store aisle. Don’t wait until it’s your own child, barricaded in her classroom.