Changing One Mind

This is the letter I am sending out to each and every Senate and House Leader, our President and Vice President… I have printed off 21 letters… I am trying my best to make a change… I can only hope

Dear Senator/Leader/Elected Official,

I am writing this to try and change one mind… yours.  I know that we can both agree that mass shootings are horrendous, that no innocent life should be lost and that school children should be safe in their classrooms.  We can agree that it is a complex problem full of many complex issues.  It is also politically heavy for both sides.

We should also be able to agree that IF something can be done to prevent even one more of these attacks we should try to do it.  No one wants one more funeral or one more speech about ‘thoughts and prayers’…  Not you, not me, and not the families of murdered children.

After so much bluster, looking at the arguments on both sides, hearing the anguish and anger from victims’ families we should be able to agree that to solve this problem we MUST take a four pronged approach.  One change will not be enough and if we are committed to making a change for the better in our country we will have to spend money, make sacrifices, and empower the government.

In my state, Oregon, as in many other states, there is no waiting period to buy any type of gun.  If your background check does not come back within three days (it usually comes back instantly) you can get the gun without the check.  Other states require a 3-10 day waiting period… the federal government could make this true across the country.  Consider it a chance for someone buying a gun out of anger, or in a rage, to have a chance to think more clearly and cool down.

So, #1 make nationwide waiting periods to buy any gun

The AR – 15, and guns like them, are meant to do one thing, kill.  We do not need to have this gun available to the general public. You know it, I know it, any reasonable person should agree that we don’t NEED this type of gun. As someone who was elected to serve our country YOU must sometimes make the difficult decisions for the good of all.  YOU need to step up, as the Australian government did, and say that part of your job is to think about the welfare of the people who may not be as educated or privileged as you.  You must make this decision about these weapons without worrying about re-election.

So, #2 ban semi-automatic assault rifles

We all like to point to mental illness as the key factor in these mass shootings.  Yes, mental distress, instability, trauma, lack of belonging, lack of empathy and losing touch with reality all play a role in these tragedies.  It is difficult to predict who is just shooting off their mouths as teenagers and who has a real intent to carry out horrendous acts.

So, #3 federally fund a school psychologist in every school… this would be in addition to a school counselor. 

Preparation in schools for active shooter situations is a reality for every school aged child.  We have drills where we turn out the lights, hide in a corner and practice being as quiet as possible… the children in my care are six and seven years old… This weekend I went into work and planned which furniture I could quickly drag to the corner of my classroom to better barricade my 24 children in case of an active shooter.  Do I want to live like this?  Do I want to practice this plan on Tuesday?  No, but I will.  I will practice perching on the high shelf next to my doorway so that if someone manages to get through my locked door, I can jump on them and fight to save the lives of my children.  This is not a joke.

So, #4 federally fund one police officer for every school (two to very large campuses with multiple entrances)

Will this be enough?  Probably not, but it is a start.  We need to somehow quell the anger and loneliness these shooters feel, we need to make America kind and loving again.  I am hoping that YOU have the courage to do your part, to stand up to people who elected you and say, I am here to make your life better, to protect your children, and this is what we need to do as a country.  Sometimes we need to help people be their better selves, we need to lead the way.

Our children are counting on you. Don’t let them down.


Allison Whitworth

First Grade Teacher



Making A Difference

I went into teaching to make a difference.  But, time and again, shooting after shooting, it has become clear that I can not make a difference the way it matters the most.  I am at a loss, and I am feeling hopeless.  I cried all the way home from school yesterday imagining the pain of those mothers and fathers, imagining my own children…

What we need is a national hotline where families and educators can call about a child or person who is violently angry and the authorities take them into protective custody, evaluates them over the course of several days, and puts them into a mandatory program while confiscating all weapons from that person and that person’s home.

We need to stop selling guns… AR-15s and, in my opinion, all others… why do you really NEED to go hunting… you don’t … you WANT to go hunting…  if you can’t afford meat at the market, become vegetarian… does your love of meat, and family tradition usurp the rights of children and teachers to attend school without fear of being shot?

I hear a call, on a conservative news station, for the best minds in our country to figure this out.  Are you kidding me?  We love violence in this country… our video games, our sports, our love of guns, our anger towards the other… these news people act as if this is something we need to figure out… We know what the problem is… we know that the accessibility of guns allows impulse to easily be acted upon… we know that children who do these things (or commit other violent crimes) have shown signs for a long time.

Last night my husband said that across the nation all teachers should hold a strike until our legislatures do something.  On NPR today I heard a retired teacher call for all teachers, administrators, and students to stay home and say ‘NO MORE’!  We have been in crisis for years… When is it time to take a stand?

It does not matter what the shooter’s motive was, it doesn’t matter his ethnicity, or the tragedy he has suffered in his life… it mattered that he was able to get a gun and that although people knew he was troubled, the hands of the authorities were tied.  You want your freedom, your rights, your guns, your privacy… all of those families want their children back…

What are you willing to give up to keep this from happening again?  How can we make a difference if we don’t think beyond our rights?

My heart is broken

Fourteen, So Far

Here we are at the beginning of February and there have been 14 school shootings in 2018… so far.  We don’t hear about most of them because most of them have not ended in a fatality, but they all involved a gun being fired at a school or on a school campus.  You can be certain that across our country guns have been brought to school and been discovered, before they were fired, many many times…

As a society. we all agree that no child should be in danger of being shot anywhere in our country but especially in our schools.  We can all agree that no child should bring a gun to school and we wring our hands at each announcement of tragedy befallen our most innocent.

I’m sorry, but if YOU own a gun and it is not locked up in a way that only you have access to it, YOU are contributing to our national problem.  It could potentially end up in the hands of a criminal, an addict, a child.  It could be used in a crime, a suicide, a school shooting.  Just by owning a gun, you are saying that you don’t get it.  You are saying that your rights are more important than the lives of innocent children.  Sorry, but you are part of the problem. If we didn’t have guns in our homes children would have a much more difficult time getting their hands on guns, it might not be impossible, but it would be much more difficult.  Shouldn’t we make it as difficult as possible for a child to get a gun?

Am I saying that I don’t support the 2nd Amendment? Yes, I am.  I care more about victims of tragedy than about people having to own guns, it is not a hard choice for me.  If I had a magic wand and could eliminate guns across our country, leaving them only in the hands of the police and military, I would do it.

There have been 14 school shootings this year…. so far.  It is only February 6th.


43 Angry Faces

I recently had a letter to the editor published in our local paper…  so far 43 angry faces have weighed in on my letter… I wrote about not giving your child a gun as a gift.  It was interesting to me to read the comments in opposition to my opinion… those people who are clutching their guns, touting ‘gun safety’ as a way to ensure the well-being of their own gun-owning children and stating that this will not stop mass shootings have no clue what my piece was about.  My piece was about caring about children who do not belong to me… their children.

If you teach your child gun safety are you ensuring that your child’s friends will take similar classes, that the neighbor kids can’t get into your home, or know that when your child is desperately unsure of their place in life and a handful of years older, that they won’t look at that gift differently?  We protect our children in so many ways, safety belts, bicycle helmets, knee pads, shin-guards, and football pads, we tell them to not talk to strangers and if they find a gun they shouldn’t touch it, they should leave the area, and tell an adult…. unless it is theirs…

What part of this is trying to take away your rights? What part of this is suggesting that you need to give up guns? What part of this idea will hurt your children in any way?

The best way to keep kids safe in terms of gun safety is to not have guns near children. Guns kill about 1,300 children each year according to a CNN… this has nothing to do with a child becoming a mass shooter… it is about children having access to a gun.

Those 43 angry faces… are they angry because I care about their children?


God’s Plan

God has a plan.  If you are a believer in prayer, in things happening as they are meant to happen, and in God looking out for His children, then you are complicit in all that is going on in our country.  You are willing to vote for a self proclaimed p**** grabber and a man who has preyed on 14 year old children because they are believers and their faith and politics are all that matter.  Trump supporters, and now supporters for this Alabama politician say that God’s instruments are not always perfect… they are flawed human beings.  They are willing to vote for these lesser people to keep the democrats out of office.  It sickens me.

But let’s take this a step further… if you are a believer that things happen as they are meant to happen, that God has his reasons for bringing back to heaven young children and amazing people whose families and communities love them, then you are saying that their killers are part of God’s plan.  The man who sat up in the hotel room in Las Vegas? He was carrying out God’s plan.  The man who drove his truck down the bike path in New York? He was doing the same.  The man who walked into that Baptist church as people prayed? He must have been answering to the same God.  The 16 year old boy who shot and killed his family down the street from my house? He too was an instrument of God.

This thought process, that God is looking out for us, that he has a plan, that all things are as they are meant to be, is the same thought process that Trump voters used when they voted for a man who has the morals to lie and cheat his way though life.  They are the people who will look away as a candidate grabs at a 14 year old girl as long as he is thumping the bible with his other hand.  They think that having a gun in everyone’s hand is the solution to the gun problem.  And they must think that mass murderers are only following a plan that God has orchestrated.

Let’s pray…



The Cost of Freedom

We are lucky to live in a free society… we are not along.  In this day and age there are many societies that enjoy this same kind of freedom.  But here in America we have another freedom, one that has been twisted and bent to serve the gun manufacturer, the hunter, and anyone who has an itch to pull the proverbial trigger… We have the right to own guns, all of which can be used to kill another human being.  ALL OF WHICH CAN BE USED TO KILL ANOTHER HUMAN BEING!

We decided long ago that the shear number of guns in our country was nothing to be concerned about… guns don’t kill people, people kill people… super

We decided long ago that only the mentally ill and convicted fellons were to be curtailed in their ability to buy a gun…

We decided that the way to stop a bad guy with a gun was to have more and more good guys with guns… after every mass shooting there is a new rush on gun shops…

And, even in the wake of those beautiful first graders lost at Sandy Hook, or those church goers praying in Texas, we refuse to look more closely at what we are holding on to…

In this moment you may hold your loved one tight, but in the next, Americans will be clutching their guns.

Open your eyes, 2nd Ammendment advocates, those lives lost on Sunday… they are the cost of your freedom.


A Wall Won’t Help

Terrible, terrible, terrible… day after day, tragedy after tragedy, conversation after conversation, we search for answers.  How do we stop this from happening? No one is willing to talk gun control, we are willing to talk immigration reform, control, and suspension.  Our problems in this country have NOTHING to do with immigration, either legal or illegal.  NOTHING.  They really have nothing to do with terrorism.  They have to do with people who are unhappy for whatever reason, feel powerless or fearful, feel like they want to make a difference, AND who are at the very edge of being tipped over the edge of valuing humanity… they are lost and looking for purpose, they are not operating under the norms of society AND they are being radicalized.

Being radicalized does not necessarily mean that a terrorist organization has converted them… it means that they are thinking violently and searching out violent answers.  They are looking to end their pain and blame others for their suffering.  They are not thinking rationally.  They are lost.

Yes, we can say they are evil.  They are probably also sociopaths.  But once, they too were children.  What were the lessons they learned as they grew up?

Building a wall won’t help… you would have to build a wall around every house, school, church, stadium, pedestrian path… the list goes on and on.  Most tragedies are being committed by American citizens, born and raised by other Americans… those who are not citizens may have been fine for many years but were tipped over that edge of sanity long after being here.

What can we do?  Teach and preach KINDNESS… stop arguing about whose ideology is correct and learn to be kind… stop posting horrid comments on-line that are filled with anger and hatred… go back to the idea that if you don’t have something nice to say then keep your mouth shut.  We are living in a time when everyone feels that it is their right to say whatever hateful thing that pops into their head… just look at our president.

Time to dig deep…  make it a part of your daily interactions… be kind, teach kindness, ask yourself if your comment is kind… to yourself, your children, your neighbors… When people’s lives are going well, when they are happy, when kindness touches them we will see fewer of these problems…   oh, and let’s get rid of guns