On Gun Violence

Stuff happens.

That completely tone-deaf remark by Jeb Bush in the aftermath of yet another school shooting is just a symptom of the overall indifference we as a nation seem to have when it comes to these tragedies. It was a disgusting moment that stood out during the aftermath of the most recent tragedy, but it’s hardly fair to blame Bush entirely. He is far from the only leader who has failed miserably when it comes to protecting our children.

It’s amazing to me just how much the attitude toward gun violence has shifted over the past several years. I remember coming home as an 8th grader in April of 1999, and seeing my mom glued to the TV. She was watching the tragic events at Columbine High School unfold, and I remember thinking this isn’t supposed to happen at a school. It was shocking and horrifying.

Now? School shootings remain horrifying and tragic, but they are no longer surprising. The cycle of events is depressingly predictable. A gunman shoots up a school. Politicians everywhere claim to feel for the victims and families. There are renewed cries for gun control, followed by shouts from gun lovers that more regulations would infringe on their freedoms. And nothing is ever changed.

To defend his asinine statement, Jeb Bush said (emphasis mine) “…you just read the papers, and you see a child dies in a pool and drowns. And parents want to pass a law to do something, and you got to be careful that you want to solve the problem. If there’s a problem, a defect in the law, fine, then we did that all the time, but sometimes you’re imposing solutions to problems that doesn’t fix the problem and takes away people’s liberties and rights…”

There are a couple of egregious errors with Bush’s statement. First, we are well past the point where these shootings are isolated incidents that only affect a few people. He wants us to believe that cries for more gun control are just an emotional overreaction by grieving families. Bullshit. It’s a reaction from people all across the country who are sick of seeing lives needlessly ended.

Even worse than that though, is his claim that proposed solutions to these mass shootings would take away people’s liberties and rights. We have elected leaders who have decided that the right to own guns is equally as important as our children’s right to safety and life. Again, I call bullshit. Nobody’s right to own a weapon is anywhere near as important as the lives of our young people. If that’s really where our priorities are as a nation, then we have failed as a society.

Schools are supposed to be a refuge for our students. I want my classroom to be a safe place for my students, regardless of any struggles they may be dealing with outside of school. Every child is entitled to a space where they are protected and valued. By refusing to take any meaningful action against school shootings, our elected officials are telling us that they don’t value our students, that protecting them is too great a burden.

Think about how drastically our lives changed after the terrorist attacks of September 11th. One tragic event changed everybody’s lives forever. We’re rapidly approaching 150 school shootings in the past three years and nothing has changed. We haven’t even seen a token effort to curb the violence.

It’s well past time for one of our leaders to stand up to the ridiculous pro-gun talking points that get recycled every time there’s another school shooting. It’s past time for us as a nation to re-asses our priorities and figure out what we really value. Our leaders need to do something. Even something that just barely lowers the frequency of these shootings is a step in the right direction, and it would be a hell of a lot more than anything that’s been done in the past decade. Stop the violence, we need our young ones to be safe.