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.
First Grade Teacher