Heading upstream.

I just finished reading an article in today’s Boston Globe Magazine.  It made me so angry and so frustrated that I am just about in tears.

It was an article on school safety.  Here is the link: “Safekeeping”  You should read it.

Then you should take a moment to reflect on this little story that my husband heard way back in graduate school.

A man was walking in a new country.  It was a lovely place. There was a river, and it came rushing down from the mountainside.  As the man approached the riverbank, he saw many people, working frantically to pull babies out of the rushing waters. Each time one of the townspeople pulled out a little baby, saving its life, another baby came by, swept along by the river’s current.  “What are you doing?”, asked the stranger. “We are all working together,” answered one of the townspeople, sweeping a baby out of the current and into the waiting arms of the rescuers, “We are saving the babies!”

The man stood and watched for a moment, then he began to walk briskly upstream. “Where are you going?”, asked the townspeople, “Aren’t you going to help us?”  The man shook his head and kept walking.  “I am going upstream.”, he said. “I am going to find out who is throwing the babies into the river.”

The article in the Globe talked about how schools are working very hard to keep children safe in the age of the Newtown massacre and Columbine.  It talked about locked doors, and shelter-in-place drills and armed guards.  It mentioned that many schools are using social conflict programs such as Open Circle and the Responsive Classroom to teach children how to cooperate and to get along. The article reported the recommended words to use with frightened children, the best way to respond to their questions and concerns, the approved approach to keeping everyone calm.

Schools all over this country are spending money on keypad locks and security cameras.  Money that could have been spent on new books, more teachers, better science materials or a boatload of art supplies.

Teachers all over this country are being trained in the best ways to distract shooters and  the best approach to locking the doors quickly.  Windows are being covered by a “film” that minimizes the impact of bullets.   In some places, teachers are being encouraged to carry concealed weapons.

Everyone is pulling babies out of the flood.

No one is walking upstream to find out where the babies are coming from.  No one, anywhere, is suggesting that maybe we need to get rid of the damn guns so we can prevent the problem in the first place.

34 thoughts on “Heading upstream.

  1. Okay, so we ban guns. Then these punks go into our schools with knives and hack the children to death. Then you ban all knives and stabbing weapons. So, they set off poison gas or bombs. Where does it end? It’s about the individuals, not their weapon of choice.


    • Nope. Its about the damn guns. I think its pretty obvious that one knife (or two knives in two hands) can be run away from, but a fucking automatic that shoots 600 rounds in a minute can’t.
      Time to stop pretending that we can prevent mental illness. Time to admit that this is a gun problem. Pure and simple.


      • I respectfully disagree. No, you can’t kill as quickly, indiscriminately or in such quantities with a knife. My point was that where there’s a desire, there’s a way to achieve the goal. Mental illness isn’t the only reason someone kills, nor do I believe that the majority of these mass killers suffer/suffered from mental illness. I suffer from a ‘mental illness’ and haven’t gone out and killed anyone.

        I understand your point and, yes, going upstream to find the root cause is what’s needed. Thank you for your reply. I look forward to your next reply, however, please refrain from cursing at me. Thank you.


      • I am just so far beyond frustrated on this issue. I wan’t cursing at you, but I will continue to curse the guns and the insanity that has lead to their proliferation.
        They need to be cursed.
        We will never, ever, ever stop violence. It is part of human nature, and I understand that.
        But until someone finally steps up and demands that we severely limit our access to weapons whose only purpose is to kill as many humans as possible, I will continue to be brought to tears and curses.
        Please understand: the public refuses to limit guns, but it expects me to put myself in front of a bullet to protect my students. And you know what? I expect that of myself.
        And that is simply unfair.
        I am a teacher. I am fully prepared to deal with math, testing, nosebleeds, puking, playground fights and head lice.
        I am not prepared to face an Uzi or AR15 or any other gun.
        And no one is trying to help me or protect me or the children I teach.
        And I am furious.
        So pardon me, but fuck those fucking guns.


    • What are you and your gun-loving friends smoking?

      Adam Lanza arrived at Sandy Hook Elementary School to a locked door, which he blew open using one of his guns. He then proceeded to shoot six adults and 20 children multiple times with semi-automatic weapons that no citizen needs.

      Had Adam Lanza arrived at the school’s locked door with a knife, or TWO knives, OR A COMPLETE PREMIUM SET OF GINSU KNIVES, HE WOULD NOT HAVE GOTTEN PAST THE LOCKED DOOR. The staff would have called the police, secured the children and SURVIVED.

      Six adults and 20 children would likely be alive today. Adam Lanza would likely be alive today to tell us WTF.

      So I repeat, what is it that you and your gun-loving friends are smoking that makes a gun the same as a knife?


      • Thanks for asking about my health, Elyse, however, I don’t smoke. And if any of my friends own guns, I’m unaware of it.

        Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that a total gun ban actually happens. Law-abiding citizens cannot get their hands on them which leaves non-law-abiding types, ingenious thugs that they are, to have unfettered access to them on the black market. They’re called CRIMINALS for a reason. They have no regard for the law the way you and I do. You and I, and our children (if you have or hope to have any), are now sitting ducks. Personally, I’d like a better than average chance of defending myself and my household against someone hell-bent of depriving me of my life, of separating me from my family.

        I don’t want my kids’ teachers, nor momshieb, to have to plan for or actually face some violent criminal during the course of their day. Unfortunately, human behavior dictates that we now have to plan for events we never imagined having to plan for in the first place.

        I cannot conceive of the level of pain and anguish of any families affected by violence, but let’s not kid one another into believing that a gun ban would rid the world of the scourge of gun deaths. Some enterprising someone, somewhere will insure that whomever has the demand, will have the access. I don’t want to wait the national average of seven minutes for the cops to arrive to bail me and mine out of a potentially deadly situation.

        As for your last question: ‘…what is it that you and your gun-loving friends are smoking that makes a gun the same as a knife?’ I never said a gun was the same as a knife. What I said was violent criminals will use what’s available as a weapon, be it gun, knife, bat, pipe, whatever. What about events this past week in D.C.? Will we ban cars because a woman tried to get to our President whom she thought was stalking her? Banning anything that can be used as a weapon means banning all sorts of items. Have you tried to buy an icepick lately? I tried this past summer and was told the store no longer carried them because they could be used as a weapon. I’m a suburban mom. Do you think I want to use an ice pick as a weapon? No, I want to break up chunks of ice. But because someone used one as a weapon, now I can’t have it. And before you ask, no, I’m not saying an icepick is the same as a gun but both have the potential, in the hands of someone bent of doing harm, to maim or kill.

        Banning a means of killing someone (guns) doesn’t stop killing. That was the point of my initial comment. Holding people accountable, disengaging our children from violent video games, making them have face-time with real-live actual people instead of all the electronic gadgets means they get to see people, interact with people, learn to treat people respectfully and value each one’s humanity and right to life and liberty.

        I did not comment in the hopes of changing anyone’s mind. I commented what I believe. If you disagree, so be it.

        I’ll leave you with the same general comment I left momsheib: I’m all for civil discourse. Civil means no cursing and no insults. Because I don’t fall in line with what others believe doesn’t mean I’m wrong, evil or smoking something. It means I’m an individual with my own beliefs and personal history. If you can’t be civil in your discourse, kindly move on to someone who won’t debate with you.


    • I cannot reply to your reply to your reply to my comment as there is no mechanism for doing that on this blog.

      But to answer your question — banning guns will not eliminate all gun deaths. You are right. But banning assault weapons, like those used in Sandy Hook, in Columbine, in aurora and in many other places, will decrease the number of deaths. Of easy deaths.

      So I will respectfully disagree with you and continue to believe that folks who put blinders on to the reality of these types of deaths are not facing reality — whether naturally or with chemical assistance.

      And if you think that keeping a gun in the house in the expectation of a “home invasion” by criminals, you need to do some research. Because the presence of a gun in the house places the members of that household at greater risk of homicide, suicide and accidental death.

      Stay safe.


    • I want people to stand up, to speak up, to try for once to protect me and those innocent little ones in front of me.
      All the card swipe systems in the world, all the Responsive Classroom lessons on earth, all the anti-bullying lessons in the universe won’t protect us.
      Why won’t anyone even try to take the guns away.


  2. Children are being shot. Teachers are expected to not only teach but save children from madmen with automatic weapons…and QuiltNMama is upset about cursing??? Seriously. I will never understand people.
    Mental illness is a serious issue and I believe that’s where we need to start. But speaking as a Canadian, I cannot understand your country’s obsession with hanging on to their guns, no matter what the cost. And when the cost is innocent children and the adults who try to protect them, I say that cost is way too high. I’m with you. The pro-gun culture does not help when you are dealing with someone who is already mentally unstable.
    So, swear away, I say.


    • Thank you!
      I try to be civil, but sometimes there are no “normal” words to label such an obscenity.
      I so appreciate the perspective of a Canadian; we think of you as free and open and wilder than we are. But every Canadian I know shares your view that my country has totally lost its sanity when it comes to guns.


    • I don’t even mind the drills; but it is the ridiculous notion that the drills will be enough, that the locks will do the trick, that training us in what to say will prevent the next tragedy. That’s the part that upsets me so much.


  3. As an Australian, I have great difficulty understanding America’s infatuation with guns. This is the first blog I’ve read from someone advocating a ban on semi-automatic or automatic weapons. In 1996, there was a massacre at Port Arthur, Tasmania, in which a lone gunman killed thirty-five people. Within three months following that incident, our government (and a very conservative one at that — our Prime Minister was a ‘mate’ of George W’s) had passed legislation banning semi-automatic and automatic weapons. They instigated a buy-back scheme, and everyone had to hand in their guns. My father had three guns, and he had to dispose of two. He could only keep his shotgun, and it had to be licensed, locked away, and kept separate from the ammunition, which also had to be locked up.

    There was a huge outcry at the time with angry protests and demonstrations. But since then, we have not had a single mass murder in Australia — not a single one in seventeen years. In the seventeen years prior to 1996, there had been 13 mass murders (i.e., over four people murdered at any one time). The homicide and suicide rate has more than halved, because, as you say, killing yourself or someone else with a weapon other than a gun is much more difficult. And no, there has been no corresponding increase in rapes and burglaries or other crimes because people are not armed.

    People are not armed — that’s the thing — and we are a much safer society as a result.

    (By the way, I can provide links to articles with the statistics I’ve quoted if needed.)


  4. ‘The Big Melt: How One Democracy Changed After Scrapping a Third of its Firearms’ http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/cp/australia

    ‘Faking waves: how the NRA and pro-gun Americans abuse Australian crime stats’

    ‘Our Strict Gun Laws Have Saved Thousands Of Australian Lives’

    ‘Gun Control in Australia’

    For fun watch this: ‘The Daily Show: John Oliver Investigates Gun Control in Australia …’ It’s a three-part series and very funny.

    Best wishes,


  5. It’s very hard as a parent when your children come home from school and tell you that at their lockdown drill, they are stuffed into closets (where you hint that maybe the back isn’t a bad place to be). If they are caught in the bathroom during this time, they are to stay in the stall and sit on the toilet with their feet up. Oh, they can take the risk if all is quiet and run to the nearest classroom. But if that door is locked, they run to the next one. If that door is locked, they probably better run back to the bathroom. And they have to be really quiet during all of this. What must these children think when they go to bed at night?


  6. A lot of us talk about gun control. It’s just that no one with the power to do something about it is listening. Screaming into the wind. I don’t get it. I will never understand why it’s okay to control who can drive and own cars but not guns.


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