My oldest child works as a Digital Producer for TV station in Seattle. This is a job of the age. My father, who died in 1997, wouldn't have known what 'Digital Producer' meant. The internet was in its infancy when my father died. Sure, we'd been emailed with my sister when she lived in Uzbekistan in 1993-94, but those first few emails read something like this, "Just checking to see if this works." And we were shocked to discover that they DID work. We could be in contact, even though we were across the world from each other.
Still, the notion that every bit of information we might need would be contained in phones, that we'd be talking to each other via instant messages, pictures, short word-bites called "Twitter," and the ubiquitous feed of Facebook was beyond most of our imaginations. But here is E, working as a journalist in that field, feeding a demanding public that hungers for instant information.
The first week she was a full-time employee, she worked through the night, right from her bed, covering the chase (and capture) of the Boston Marathon bombers. She's covered bridge collapses and landslides, and...too many school shootings. Right here in our region, since E started her job, there have been three school shootings.
Three. Two in our state, and one yesterday in Roseburg, Oregon.
But there was also a huge difference for E yesterday. After working all day in media, she left for her new, other job. It was her second day teaching as an adjunct professor in the journalism department at Seattle University. She told me last night that she felt incredibly teary walking into that class, and not because she was nervous. It hit her personally what it must have felt like for those students and teachers to be going about their business yesterday morning, expecting to learn or teach or study. And with the sound of shots in the air that changed.
I have worked hard to not share my political beliefs here on this blog. They don't matter too much in the long run. Whether you and I belong to the same political party doesn't matter to God. It really doesn't. There are NO republicans and democrats in heaven, nor are there any in scripture. I could tell you why I believe what I believe, but it doesn't matter. Really.
Except, today It does. Somehow, in the last 24 hours, I can't help feeling like I have to say something.
You see, my husband is a counselor at a high school. My brother teaches at a different one. My sister-in-law just retired from teaching. My sister and daughter and step-sister-in-law work at universities. More friends than I can count on all my fingers and toes are teachers. And I'm tired of the idea that we can't do any better than we're doing about school shootings. It seems ridiculous to me that more can't be done. Really. It's like all those who work to teach our kids, or ARE our kids are like sitting ducks. Or playing Russian Roulette.
Yes, more has to be done. Our constitution says we have the right to bear arms, but the context of those words was completely different than our complex world. They were written by those who lived in a wilderness where there was no standing army nor even true police force. Men (no women, of course) were expected to protect themselves. As those words were written, the young country was gearing up to fight the Revolutionary War. In fact, as the Declaration of Independence was war-time decree, the Constitution was a War-Time promise. And a call to arms. And arms were obviously necessary to that call. Like, "This is what you'll get if you join us in this new enterprise, in this new fight!" It's universal and far-reaching but it's also local--meant first for those who first read it.
Thomas Jefferson couldn't have envisioned the country we live in today. And, from where I sit, it's hard to imagine that he or John Adams or Patrick Henry even (who cried, "Give me liberty of give me death") would have been gratified to see what we've become at the hands of that decree. That liberty, allowing people to shoot up schools? Really? People who drive in cars (cars?) and shoot out their windows because they're mad? Who believes that those intelligent men thought THESE were freedoms covered by the constitution? I don't.
"Guns don't kill, people do." I read this all the time, particularly after a school shooting. I find it an alarming argument. A gun is an inanimate object. It cannot shoot itself. It takes a human to load it, cock and, usually, pull the trigger. So yes, a gun cannot shoot itself. HOWEVER, by definition, these school shootings are done by guns AND humans. The combination of human and gun. And any regulation we EVER make about any thing is for humans, in the end. It's the combination. Guns cannot regulate themselves, just like they cannot load themselves. HUMANS must do that. Again, it's the combination--the symbiotic relationship, so to speak, between people and guns--that must change if we have any hope of stopping this violence.
"It's only people with mental illness," I also hear. So let me be blunt. I have a son with mental illness. He says, "I shouldn't be allowed to own a gun." He has no interest in owning a gun, thank God. And he's stable right now. But I've seen him angry. I've seen what that anger and depression and impulsive behavior can look like together. Many people with mental illness are smart, and not as wise as my son. They could buy a gun easily enough (obviously, the myriad school shootings in just this last year confirm that). It wouldn't take anything more than it would take my son.
No, only real change in the regulations can protect these people as well as the people they might harm. Stricter gun laws, stricter regulations on the kind of guns allowed, stricter everything.
I am not against guns across the board. Let me be clear about that. I have farmers and ranchers in my family too. I understand quite well why they need guns in their life. They use them. Sometimes animals have to be put down, sometimes varmints get into the crop or barn or whatever. And they're hunters who eat what they hunt--just like all of our ancestors did. I appreciate these men and women and their lives so much. I love their choices and have no problems with any who use guns for such purposes.
I simply want to see guns more regulated, so that it's harder for anyone to get their hands on them.
Can't we figure out a way to fix this mess before one more school suffers what Umqua Community College is suffering right now?