If I Carried a Gun


Books

I keep thinking about the idea of teachers carrying guns.

When the Newtown massacre happened, I was teaching fifth grade. Immediately after the horror of that day, the NRA and dozens of political leaders tossed out the idea of “arming teachers.”

Even now, five years after this stupidity was mentioned as an answer to school shootings, the idea continues to be thrown about.

There are so very many practical reasons why this is a completely idiotic idea, including impossibility of safely keeping a loaded gun in a room full of kids.

But one issue hasn’t been raised yet, and it is the biggest problem as far as I’m concerned.

It is the moral question of killing, even in defense of others.

What would happen to the spirit, the soul, the conscience of a teacher who successfully shot and killed another human being? How have so many come to believe that all there is to killing is pulling the trigger?

I was a pretty typical American public school teacher. I’m a mother, a wife, a grandmother. I loved my job because I loved being with children. I loved laughing with them, exciting their interests, forming relationships with each of them.

I have spent a lot of time imagining myself in an active shooter situation.

I try to imagine myself with a gun in my hand, knowing that my 24 students are cowering against the wall. Knowing that outside our door there is someone trying to kill us.

I imagine the door bursting open as I raise the gun, pulling the trigger, hitting the target.

I imagine the face of the young man in front of me exploding in a shower of blood and bone. I can hear the screams of the kids behind me as he collapses. I imagine watching him die in front of me.

What then?

What if he turned out to be a student I knew? Maybe one of the many struggling kids I had taught myself some years before? What if he was a former student at our school?

What if I knew his family?

Would I be expected to walk back into my classroom a day or a week later, ignoring the newly laid flooring where his brains and blood had damaged the carpet? Would I be expected to focus on my math lessons and recess and homework corrections?

What would I feel as I looked into the eyes of my young students? Students who had come to trust me? What would I be expected to say to them?

I would never be able to look at myself the same way. I’d never feel clean or whole again.

Oh, I know, the press would call me a hero, the survivors would cheer me, there would be articles in the paper and on and on.

But I would have been changed from a teacher to a killer. The very essence of my self would be smashed and reshaped into something unrecognizable to me or those who love me.

There may be times when it is reasonable to kill another human being outside of wartime. I don’t know.

But I do know that is deeply wrong for people to casually toss out the idea of “arming” civilians so that we can protect ourselves from each other.

It is morally wrong to lightly suggest that those who have not chosen to be members of the police or military could simply shoot to kill and then go back to teaching phonics.

I think we need to step back, away from the growing pile of weapons in front of us, and take a deep breath. We need to ask ourselves if we really believe that killing is anything other than a life changing, painful, horrific event for the killer.

Life is not a video game. None of us is Rambo. Causing the violent, ugly, bloody death of another human is not a joke. It’s not a part of life in civilized societies.

Where are our morals? What happened to our souls?

 

 

A Letter To the Parkland Teens


download

Dear young activists,

First of all, I am so sorry. I don’t know how to address you. To this 62 year old grandmother, you are children. But I see your strength and courage in the face of tragedy, and I know that you are already grown. To this retired teacher, you are students. But as I watch you lead this lost country toward a better future, I know that you are our teachers.

So I will not call you “children” or “students”. I will go with “young activists,” as I send you this letter.

Dear young activists,

My heart is broken for you. You should NEVER have had to cower in fear in your classrooms. You should never have had to text “goodbye” to your families. You should never have had to bury your friends.  I grieve for you and with you. I wish that my tears could wash away this terror and this pain.

But my dear young powerful Americans,

I thank you. I have been fighting for sensible gun control in this country for so many years. I took my then teen aged daughter to the Million Mom March back in 2000. In those early, innocent days, we were fighting to limit access to handguns.  No one had even imagined semi-automatic rifles.

Can you even imagine?

My dear young survivors,

I want to hug you. I want to take care of you. I am old enough be your grandma. Please remember that even as you call upon all of that incredible youthful energy and rage and fire, you are still only human. Take care of yourself.

I can’t make you a nice plate of pasta, as I constantly wish I could, but I can offer you these few words of advice, taken from my many years of activist work:

  1. Trust yourselves. Stick together. When outside forces seek to weaken you by comparing you to each other or singling one of you out, stay strong, stay true, stay together. You will never find better friends or allies than those who stand with you now.
  2. Keep to your message. The media and the public will try to move you onto other topics, other problems, other issues. Be true to your cause.
  3. Take care of yourselves!! Sleep. Rest. Eat good food. Eat delicious but bad-for-you food. Laugh. Cry. Watch some mindless TV. Recharge. I know too well that we all operate like rechargeable batteries. Don’t let yourselves be drained.
  4. Don’t listen to anyone other than each other. Take every bit of adult advice, suggestion and guidance with a big old grain of salt, including this one. YOU know who you are, and what you need to do.
  5. Let us help you as we can. Let us send you money, but don’t listen when we tell you how to spend it. Let us drive you to your interview, but don’t let us give you a script.

My dear young activists,

I’m sorry that you find yourselves where you are.  I’m so happy to find you in the place where we most need you. You have a very rare and unique opportunity to change the world for the better. And that puts all of you in a very vulnerable place.

I wish you all success and strength and power. I wish you peace, and healing and an end to your sorrow. I wish you a safe place to learn and to grow.

And when the limelight fades, I wish you lives of ordinary beauty and everyday joy. I wish you moments of reflection when you can look back and think, “I made the world better.”

We will march with you on March 24th. We will continue this long, long fight for sanity and safety. 

Love and thanks,

One inspired Nonni

 

 

What now?


It’s so hard to write at this moment in time.

What do I reflect upon? Do I continue to scream my rage about the slaughter of our children in their classrooms? I feel that I have to. Until we come to a place where common sense has ruled, I feel obligated to keep on screaming.

But my throat is sore. My heart is sore. My mind is sore.

I have signed every petition, sent money to every gun control group I can find. I am a part of Everytown, Moms Demand Action, Never Again, March for Our Lives. I will march in Boston on Mar. 24th.

I WILL keep on screaming.

But. In the meantime.

Children are our purest measure of ourselves. Our own children, our grandchildren. These are our own personal futures. We all want to feel eternal. Our beautiful children give us that belief.

My little grandchildren give me the strength to keep on screaming. Even while I am braiding Ellie’s beautiful brown hair, I am screaming inside, “Take away the guns that might kill her.”  Even as I rock my sweet little Johnny in my arms, I find myself screaming, “Keep him safe! Let him be safe.”

When we have children, we believe that our love will protect them. When we create our loving, supportive families, we think that it’s enough to keep our children secure and to let them grow into adulthood.

We can’t believe that one depressed, angry, lonely young man could tear apart all that love. All that joy. All that sweet, uplifting hope.

But we are, of course, wrong.

I keep trying to write. I keep trying to post funny stories about my grandchildren. How funny it is to see my sweet little Ellie, at all of 2 1/2 years, asking me, “So how is your Momma feeling? Is she getting better and better?”

I want to make you laugh as I write about the challenges of toilet training with a sassy little toddler. I want to tell you funny little stories about baby Johnny learning to crawl.

But I can’t.

Every time I try, I am overwhelmed by images of Daniel Barden of Newtown Connecticut. I try to see Johnny, and I see Daniel.

When I try to write about my beautiful, brilliant, funny little Ellie, I keep seeing beautiful, brilliant, funny Jaime Guttenberg who died in Parkland, Florida.

I’m sure that I’ll be back soon. I’ll write funny little tales about the kids and about aging not-so-gracefully.

But for now.

I can’t stop screaming.

I’ll be part of the “March For Our Lives” on March 24.  I hope you will be out there, too.

download

Parental Sacrifice


Remember when your kids were little? It was funny, annoying and sweet to catch yourself making ridiculous sacrifices for them.

I know in my house we sacrificed our precious sleep just to keep those little cuties alive. I bet you did, too!

We sacrificed our date nights when we couldn’t find sitters. We sacrificed our weekends to hockey tournaments and band practice and girl scout camping trips. That’s what adults do for kids! We set aside our own needs and preferences for the children who depended on us.

Whether it was the pulp in our orange juice or the crunch in our peanut butter, we were willing to give up our own pleasures to keep our kids happy.

As a teacher, I remember sacrificing my lunch break for kids who needed someone to talk to. We all sacrificed our weekends to lesson plans so that the kids would have the best week possible.

That’s what adults do. That is how every species has managed to survive. We sacrifice our own needs so that the next generation can thrive.

I know that if someone told me that I should give up a dangerous vice in order to protect our children, I would do it. I have skipped that glass of wine with dinner so I could safely drive the kids to a lesson or a game. I have given up the warmth and comfort of our wood stove, knowing that it made it harder for the kids to breathe.

Adults are genetically predisposed to protect children.

So if I was a person who really had a fabulous time juggling hand grenades, I’d be willing to give that up if I knew it might hurt the kids in my neighborhood. If I was a driver who really enjoyed driving a tank around town, I’d grudgingly stop doing it in order to prevent kids from getting squished.

This is what human being are designed to do. We are designed to protect our children.

So.

Why do the “I really have a good time shooting my AR-15” people think that their “fun” is more important than the lives of our kids? It makes no sense. It defies logic.

I know that if I could save the life of one child by giving up my TV, I’d do it. If I could save the lives of a dozen kids by giving up my laptop, it would be gone. Save a hundred kids by giving up my car? Yup, you can have it.

Save thousands of kids every single year by giving up my assault weapon?

Why would any human being say no to that?

I don’t know how these people sleep at night.

Oh, Those Kids Today


You know what I loved about teaching? It wasn’t the enormous salary or the fabulous overtime pay. It wasn’t the big clunky desk with the three stuck drawers, or the little bathroom that I shared with 25 other adults of both genders.

Nope.

I didn’t love teaching because the 14 meetings a week were so riveting or because the sound of the copy machine was music to my ears. It wasn’t the 15 minute lunches eaten at my desk or the joy of lugging 20 pound curriculum boxes up and down stairs.

None of that was what kept me teaching for three decades.

I loved teaching because there is nothing as exciting as watching children discover their inner power. I loved being in the presence of children who were learning to stretch their tender wings. Watching them learn to take risks, to open themselves to the possibility of failure, to push themselves to take on challenges that loomed so large in front of them…those were the moments that made me catch and hold my breath. Those were the moments that brought tears to my eyes.

 

Children grow, and stretch and carefully inch their way into adulthood. They do it with joy and fear and a constant sense of wonder. When you are in the presence of children, you are filled with the sense of the possible.

In the past week, I have watched hundreds of children turn their rage and their grief into powerful action. The young people of Parkland Florida have humbled me and brought me to tears over and over again. They are articulate, using the force of all that emotion to perfectly express what so many of us have been feeling for years.

They are unfiltered, because they are honest. They don’t know how to twist the truth of what they lived. They don’t try. They lived through their worst nightmares, and they are determined to make us understand what that was like for them.

They are powerful. They believe that they can change the world, so they will. They are still innocent enough to believe that there is justice in this country, so I will believe that for them. They have faith that there is honor in those who sit in our seats of power. But they are wise enough to know that if that honor doesn’t shine at this terrible moment, those seats can be taken away.

Like every one of the children I taught, these young people humble me.

The future belongs to them, and they are beginning to understand that. The students of Parkland, Florida, the students of my home state of Massachusetts, the students in Newtown Connecticut…all of them lift me up. They give me the courage to stand beside them, to keep on fighting, to speak truth to corrupt power.

Children are what keeps this very sad, discouraged old teacher lady going.

Kids today.

Thank the good Lord in Heaven for kids today.

parklandstudentsnratrumpinaction-1280x720

She was only a baby


download

There was another shooting at another school in the United States this past week.

I know. Yawn, yawn. It doesn’t even make the headlines anymore.

But still.

Think of the teachers who kiss their children goodbye every morning and grab their travel mugs of coffee as they head to school. Think of the parents, millions of them, who pack lunches for their kids and check homework. Picture them kissing their children and putting them on the big yellow bus.

Think about how much trust it takes to send children off to spend the day in the care of other adults. Think about how much trust it takes to go into work every day as a teacher. Think about the number of school shootings that take place in this country every month.

I used to be a teacher. I went to those terrible, horrifying trainings on how to react to a live shooter in our school. I had to keep my door locked at all times, in the event of a shooter coming in to get us.

I used to stay awake at night picturing how I would react if someone burst into my classroom with a weapon. I imagined using my broom to hit the bad guy in the chest or the throat. I imagined telling my ten year old students to lie flat on the floor as I did this. I thought about kicking the weapon away from the killer and I thought about hitting him with my broom, or my feet, or with a big dictionary.

It never felt real. And it never felt it would be enough.

What kind of country asks its children to practice hiding from guns, rather than keeping the guns out of the schools? What kind of insane society asks its teachers to practice taking out a murderer during a reading lesson?

The other day a little girl took hold of a gun and brought it to her Los Angeles middle school. She shot her classmates.

She was 12 years old.

Let me say that again.

She was TWELVE.

She was too young to vote, to order a glass of wine or to get a credit card. She was too young to understand that death is eternal. She was a child. A young child. She was an unhappy pre-adolescent girl who felt bad about herself.

What kind of country would allow her access to a weapon? What kind of sick, twisted, insane society would put this kind of gun into the hand of a sad little girl who doesn’t understand its power?

I am so ashamed to be an American. I am. THIS is why.

I am ashamed because I live in a country that believes that the right to shoot for fun outweighs the rights of children to go to school in safety. I am ashamed because I live in a country that has decided that the millions of NRA dollars are more important the lives of millions of teachers.

We have so completely lost our way, America.

A TWELVE YEAR OLD brought a gun to school and shot up the kids who were bugging her. And nobody in power gives a shit. It didn’t even make the front pages of our national newspapers.

We have lost our way. We are lost. We have abdicated our right to call ourselves merciful, kind or nurturing.

I am sick at heart. And I will forever mourn the adults who let this little girl destroy her own life and the lives of her classmates just so they can tell themselves that they are big old badass gun toting Mericans.

If Canada would have me, I’d be there next week.

 

Again? AGAIN? How Many Babies Have To Die?


I am a liberal. A progressive. A no-war, all peace, hippy dippy Nonni.

But when I saw the faces of those Syrian babies, choking and dying, I wanted to go over there myself and beat the living shit out of Assad, the Russians and everyone who ever helped to create a chemical weapon.

I despise and loathe Donald Trump and everything he stands for. He disgusts me on every level.

But when I saw those babies, gasping for breath, and dying because a bunch of stupid, ignorant, self-absorbed, power hungry adults don’t care enough to protect them, I applauded those bombs dropped in Syria.

Now here I am. Once again. Thinking about babies who are dead for NO REASON at all. NONE.

But this time I’m not talking about war that’s happening thousands of miles away. This time, again, once again, I’m talking about a war on American children. Right here in our own homeland. Right in our towns.

Right there in the classrooms of our youngest children.

Guns. Fucking useless guns.

This time the NRA has once again succeeded in letting an angry, depressed American have a gun. This angry man lived in San Bernardino, California. He was mad at his wife.

He had a gun.

Remember that old saying? “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”?

When you’re depressed, angry, feeling hopeless, and all you have is a killing machine, everything looks like a target.

Even your wife.

Even the sweet, innocent, eight year old boy who happened to be chatting with his teacher when you burst into the room with your slaughtering tool.

And here we are again.

Our government is willing to spend over 70 million dollars to protest the lost lives of those children murdered by their government. But not one of those swaggering macho gunslingers in Washington has the balls to stand up the NRA in defense of little ones like the child who was massacred today while talking to his teacher.

Not one of our so-called leaders has the basic human decency to stand up and say that Newtown was ENOUGH.

I am crying again tonight for the brutal death of a child whose only crime was being born in a country that values the bottom line of the gun industry over its own tender babies.

I’m disgusted.

I feel powerless. I am filled with rage.

Its a damn good thing for the people in Washington that I don’t own a gun.

 

Too Many Guns. Period!


Did you know that in this country there are almost as many guns as humans?

Did you know that last year over 33,000 Americans died from guns?  They were accidents, suicides, and homicides. But they were all killed by guns.

Get this story.

A guy in Colorado got so mad at his daughter that he pulled out his gun, told her to get hers, and then challenged her to a duel.

With LOADED GUNS.

Read the story below. Then call your representatives and tell them that you won’t vote for them ever again unless they do something to stop the insanity with guns in every room of every house in every town. Guns just waiting for that extra beer, that teen aged heartbreak or that defiant teenager to give their owner the excuse for pulling the trigger.

Dad Challenges Daughter To Gun Battle.

“I am shocked at this terrible tragedy.”


Uzi_of_the_israeli_armed_forces

I am absolutely shocked that such a terrible tragedy has happened in Aurora, Newtown,Columbine,Tucson,Orlando, Las Vegas. This is a small, tight knit community! Everyone knows everyone else in this town.  No one EVER expected something like this to happen here! This is something that happens somewhere else, not in OUR town.

It is just unbelievable that a young man could so easily obtain a Bushmaster, Uzi,Glock, pistol, automatic weapon “long gun” and simply walk right into a church,kindergarten,high school, movie theater, Community College, hotel room and start shooting.

The nation mourns with those who have lost children, parents, sisters, brothers, friends in this senseless event.  We will join in the usual round of candlelight vigils, handwringing and moaning with all of you.

We know that Newtown, Littleton, Aurora, Tucson, Charleston, Blacksburg, Roseberg, Orlando, Las Vegas are strong.  They will come together to heal from this terrible event and will support each other as they seek to make sense of the horrific tragedy.

We offer our sympathy, prayers, solidarity and endless hours of TV coverage to those who are grieving.

Apparently what we don’t offer is the slightest attempt to take the guns off the streets.

Until next time, please feel free to use the above script when reacting to the slaughter of innocents in the United States.

If you’d like to do something slightly more proactive, please click on one of the links below.

Moms Demand Action

Gun Sense Voter

Coalition to Stop Gun Violence

Lock and Load……..


150716174533-tn-shoot-car-exlarge-169

Wow. It was quite a day for national news.

I mean.  Wow.

Yet another young man decided to grab a few guns and kill some random strangers.   So scary!   Four young and innocent Marines went to work this morning and will never come home again.  Another angry young man is dead, having chosen to shoot his way out of this life.

Clearly, say all the pundits on CNN, it is time to place armed guards around military bases and military recruitment offices.

And the angry young man who decided to shoot up a Colorado movie theater a few years ago was found guilty on all charges today.  More deaths, more wasted lives, more horror.

Obviously, it is time to increase armed guards at movie theaters.

As a teacher, I am still grieving over the horrors that unfolded in Newtown on that terrible morning when another angry, sick young man decided to make his exit by taking a whole classroom of babies with him.

We should have armed guards at the front door of every school.  Clearly.

We should have armed men standing in front of churches, too, and attending every Bible study group.Because it is impossible to tell exactly when yet another disillusioned, racist, hopeless, twisted, unloved and unloving young person might decide to shoot the place up in an act of defiance.

Our ministers should be armed. Our priests should carry loaded guns under their robes. Our kindergarten teachers and our English teachers and our college professors should all be armed every single day.  You know. Just in case.

And young baristas at Starbucks in small New England towns should probably carry guns, too.  And the kids who gather to play music in cozy art galleries in those small towns might want to be packing heat as they strum their acoustic guitars.

Because you just never know when an angry young man in a tiny little Berkshire town like Adams, Mass. might decide to blow up a college cafeteria.  A young man like the one who is the same age as my boys.  Like the one who lives in the same bucolic place where they share a house.

You just never know when it will happen.

Clearly, it is time for us all to arm ourselves to the teeth, to load our guns and keep them close. And we should be ready to pull those guns out and start firing just as soon as the next sad and broken young man or woman starts to shoot the place up.

Or.

Maybe we should think about limiting the guns……………..