I was teaching my class about parts of speech. We were looking at some of the wonderful books by Roald Dahl, and laughing about how cleverly he could depict his villains. He made them so richly detailed and wonderfully horrible that we felt as if we could hear their voices “like thunder”. We could see their “massive thighs” and “bull necks”. The kids were sharing favorite descriptions of witches, giants and cruel adults, showing each other passages from the books they had just completed.
My cell phone buzzed in my pocket, but I ignored it as I focused my energy on the shining faces before me.
After a few minutes, the children settled in to do some writing of their own, so I took a minute to read my text. “Another school shooting. Check the news.” I scanned the classroom, where the only sound was pen on paper and the crinkle of snack bags as the kids worked to create their own villain descriptions.
I sat at my desk, and clicked to CNN on-line. The horror of the day unfolded before me. And I was swept with grief, and flooded with rage, and shaking with fear, all in the span of a few racing heartbeats.
Again? This has happened to us again?! I fought back my emotions, swallowed past the ache in my throat, and lifted my gaze to my students. One little boy caught my eye and grinned, then returned to his task. A little girl laughed, smoothing her shining red-gold hair behind her ear.
The kids went off to lunch, and to recess, laughing and eating and playing together in the sunshine. I stood at the window of my classroom and watched.
You see, it is my job to take care of those children. To nurture them and teach them and to keep them safe while they are in my care.
But I can’t! Dammit. I can’t keep them safe.
And I know it.
I know that any day of the week, any hour of the day, some angry, bitter, twisted person can walk right in the door and raise a gun and simply blow us all away. There will be nothing I can do.
And that breaks my heart, and makes me so enraged that I don’t know what to do.
Someone out there, someone who has stumbled on this blog, maybe someone who believes in so called “gun rights”, please explain to me how you can still think it is reasonable for people to walk around carrying assault weapons?
Don’t tell me about the Second Amendment. Just don’t. If you speak English at all, you know that the words of that clause don’t say a thing about the right of one individual to own a gun. “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.” You want to join a well regulated militia? Fine. Just get the semi-automatic weapons out of your closet.
And don’t you dare to tell me that if only more people were armed, these things wouldn’t happen. You can’t possibly believe that putting guns into the hands of kindergarten teachers is really going to keep children safe. You are not going to tell me that now I need to carry an armed weapon in my pocket while I teach kids how to do long division.
I don’t want to hear about individual rights, or freedom, or personal liberty, either. The rights of adults who want to feel macho in the face of a scary world do not trump the rights of my students to learn and grow without fearing for their lives.
If we don’t stand up right now, and force this so called government of ours to outlaw and confiscate all those assault weapons, then we will all have ourselves to blame when the next inevitable mass murder happens at the movies, or the mall.
Or in my classroom.