Sick to My Stomach

I have been so busy in my own life that speaking out hasn’t been a priority.  The school year is coming to a close and I am sitting down to work on some end of the year projects on my day off…  and then ‘Breaking News’… Texas… multiple fatalities… students talking on t.v… not again

Florida has made the change because of their tragedy and yet the NRA stands behind gun ownership, behind the necessity of producing military style assault riffles, behind our beloved 2nd Amendment… I have written before and will write again, it doesn’t take a bump stock (or an AR-15) to destroy lives. Students of Parkland have been called all kinds of names in the wake of trying to make a change…

When will we change the way we look at the 2nd Amendment and the gun culture.  Today the discussion about guns was not soon enough, today for Santa Fe, it was too late.

The price we pay for our right to own guns?  It grows by the day… in the lives of innocent people, in the lives of children…

Sick to my stomach, I can’t even imagine the heartache of the people of Santa Fe.

My heart breaks for them all

 

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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.

Thoughtfully,

Allison Whitworth

First Grade Teacher

 

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.

Let’s Look More Closely

Something evil is growing like a cancer in our country… perhaps the people so inclined to act out violently have something physiologically wrong… We scramble to look for a motive, like that will solve this problem or bring us closer to answers.  A motive is meaningless because many of us are frustrated in the same ways, many are raised by less than perfect parents, and many have angry moments… but THESE people, they treat those roadblocks as motive to commit horrendous crimes.  What makes them different than we are?  Are they really evil?  Or are they predisposed to act out violently?

Three people were shot in our town just a couple of miles from where we live.  My husband and I ride our bikes past the street where a 16 year old high school junior in foster care shot and killed his 10 year old biological sister, his 55 year old foster mother and his 26 year old foster sister… it did not make national news. How did this happen? It doesn’t matter what the boy’s motives were… those three people will still be dead…

We should be dissecting the brains of violent killers and looking for biological signals that show who is capable of crossing the line of sanity.  Just like we medicate for other physiological issues maybe we need to look closer at identifying people with a propensity to act out violently… If, as a student, you are seen by teachers to be angry with violent tendencies your parents should be required to take you to a mental health specialist… if you are convicted of violence you should have to have a brain scan, psychological testing, and medication to manage your anger before you are allowed to step foot back into society…perhaps you are also required to forever be linked to a physician who will make sure your medication is being taken and is working… The government should be stepping up to help identify and pay for kids who may be on this path… And we need to stop clamoring about preserving our freedoms… right now we are free and that is no consolation to all the victims and their families.

At some point maybe everyone who goes to get a drivers license will have a non-invasive brain scan to identify if they have that predisposition… and if so, they can be treated before they snap…

Oh, and get rid of all the guns….

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.

Don’t Make It Easy

If you live in Oregon you know this… we can not buy Sudafed at the pharmacy.  We can’t buy it here in Oregon because some people misuse the ingredients to make meth.  If you have to go to work and you have a cold, Sudafed is the best way to kick it for the day.   We have outlawed a medication because a few people can’t be responsible. We don’t want to make it easy for drug dealers.

Years ago my mother was running late for work.  An animal like sound came from across the street… it became a tortured scream.  The neighbor boy had tried to kill himself with one of their family’s guns.  He was lucky, my mom was there and he lived. Years later, in the early morning my phone rang. I sat in my kitchen as my boss told me that my coworker’s 16-year old son had committed suicide with his father’s gun. Then there was an early morning meeting to tell us that a student had accidentally shot and killed his brother.  Of course there was Columbine, Sandy Hook, UCC and many, many more… but those were the big ones… The small ones are the ones we, as a nation, never hear about.  They are the hunting accidents, the suicides, the accidental shootings, the children picking up guns and the sudden bad decisions made in anger that take only one or two lives.  

As a nation we are willing to do whatever it takes to keep our people safe.  We have laws about wearing helmets, wearing seat belts, using a phone in the car, how much medication a person in pain is allowed to receive at once, where we are allowed to carry our glass of wine or bottle of beer in public, how high we need to make a railing, and the age we are required to send our children to school.  

We may never be able to foresee the acts of a mad man or the lengths he is willing to go to do harm… but we can prevent accidents, curb successful suicides, and stifle something done in the heat of the moment (think road rage), and make it extremely difficult to commit mass murder… either way we don’t have to make it easy to hurt someone.

If you own a gun you and your family are far more likely to be injured by a gun. Period. If you own a gun you have to realize that YOUR gun may be used to commit a crime.  A gun really has one purpose: To kill something. You can say it is for protection, for hunting, for target practice, for sport… but it really is just to kill.  We need to care more about keeping our society safe than about owning guns.  Owning a gun does not make you safe… it makes you part of the problem… I know that is harsh, because no one wants to admit that something they believe is a right may need to be restricted or even eliminated…  Let’s not make hurting each other easier than it has to be.

Are You Ready?

 

 

I sat around a living room discussing politics with a group of mostly democrats.  Each of us was asked about our position on guns and gun control.  Most of the discussion group participants said we should better regulate guns.  When they got to me I said that we should go the way of Australia and get rid of guns.  I was ready to say it out loud.  Not long before sitting around that living room a man had opened fire in our small towns community college and killed nine innocent people, several of of them were classmates of my two sons.  

 

Our town was not ready to say it even then, and they may never be.  We are a hunting town, a town steeped in the the culture of guns and there is no way WE would even consider limiting our access to our guns.  The idea that a good guy with a gun could have made a difference in that shooting, and in any shooting, is part of the argument for keeping our guns.

They said it was too soon after Sandyhook, too soon after UCC, too soon after San Bernadino, and too soon after Pulse… when will we be ready?

To even have that discussion evokes such anger and hatred on the part of those who defend their gun rights. It is a discussion about liberals taking away rights and the ability to defend their own.  Last nights events are on the two year anniversary of our towns shooting.  There are so many shootings in our country’s history that they will now have to share the same day.  We have explained away shooters and our ability to solve this problem because they were mentally disturbed or ideological terrorists, foreigners who came to do us harm… the mass shootings are horrid… in this, America is indeed number one.

 

You have to have registration to obtain the type of firearm this shooter used in his attack.  Super.  Registration.  We need to be willing to do whatever it takes to end this type of mass murder… and it is not ‘building a wall’ that will help…

 

What are you willing to do? It is time to take a stand and change how we think about the second amendment.  Are you ready to give up your guns? It is time.