Originally published: February 17, 2018 | Updated: May 18, 2018
I originally wrote this after the Parkland shootings earlier this year. Now the terror has struck close to home – my home of Houston, Texas.
For all those times we try to comfort our own fears as parents by rationalizing “odds are it won’t happen here” – that is true…until is DOES happen here.
Our Texas Senator Ted Cruz spoke today, applauding the “bravery” and “sacrifice” of the students and faculty at Santa Fe High School.
Well, this is one mama who doesn’t want her kids to be a “sacrifice.” I’m sure those parents today didn’t either.
My Child’s Teacher is Not a Solider
This isn’t a political post — I’m far from being a politician.
This is a mom blog post.
Written by a mom who wants her children to be safe. Healthy. Happy.
Simple as that.
I’ve wanted to write this post for a while, since the last school shooting. It hurts my heart to write that, “since the last school shooting.” While the Columbine of my childhood was an anomaly, school shootings are an epidemic today.
I’ve been nervous to write this, and it’s kept me silent. I was too afraid of what people might think.
But you know what?
I’m a mad mama bear — and I’m more afraid of the world my kids live in than I am of the people who might disagree with my opinion.
And why don’t I have the right to express my fears about the terrifying reality that kids are being killed when they should be learning?
Why can’t I express my anger at the inaction, no, outright refusal of the powers that be to keep our kids safe?
Again. And again. And again.
First, let me set the record straight about one thing:
I love America and I thank God every day for the gift of raising my family here.
But I also think America is misguided.
We’ve decided that our right to carry guns is more important than our children’s right to live, or even be safe at school.
We spend exponentially more money appeasing powerful lobbies than caring for our people.
And now we’re seeing the consequences of those decisions.
I grew up with guns in my family. My uncles all hunt. My Grandad taught us cousins to shoot safely on his West Virginia hilltop farm. My Granny may or may not still pack heat in her purse.
I don’t think we need to “take all the guns away” — if that’s what you were thinking I was going to say.
But for goodness sake, can we take away the guns that can wipe out 50 people in a matter of minutes?! Or at least make it more difficult to buy those guns than it is right now?
Yes, people who want to kill will find a way to do so, but we don’t need to make it easy for them.
I did a little research before I started writing this because I wanted to learn the supposed benefits of the AR-15 (the gun used for the mass killings at Sutherland Springs, Sandy Hook, Parkland, the list goes on). I wanted to read it straight from the people who are advocating for these weapons and fighting to keep them widely available.
Like many proponents, the Firearms Trade Industry Association pitches the AR-15 as the all-around sporting firearm perfect for hunting all types of game and target shooting. Plus, “they are a lot of fun to shoot!” (Their words, not mine.)
At least we’re having fun.
Now again, before you think this is another “take all the guns away” and “we’ll all be better” post…
We’re doing more than just making it insanely easy for disturbed killers to purchase powerful weapons. (The Parkland, Florida mass murderer was not old enough to legally buy beer, but he could legally buy an AR-15).
We’re not caring for our people before they get to mass murderer status.
We’ve made “health care” (in quotes because “care” is not the main priority in our system) unaffordable and inaccessible to millions of our fellow Americans.
Mental health care is even less accessible, for those that aren’t discouraged from seeking treatment due to the stigma.
For example, my family spends almost $1000 a month in health insurance premiums alone. Still, we pay almost completely out of pocket for most health care services beyond a visit to our primary care doctor.
The Affordable Care Act stipulates that mental health services must be a covered benefit, however, many plans get around this requirement by placing barriers like astronomical deductibles (ours is $12,000) and high co-insurance percentages after that.
So while depression screening for children and adolescents is usually included as a free preventative service (like immunizations), if you want to do something about that depression you’ll likely be fronting those costs yourself, to the tune of $100-200 a visit.
And before you think the school counselor might be another (free) option for your child, I’m going to stop you right there.
Your child likely isn’t “bad enough” to merit a piece of those limited resources. Schools counseling services are underfunded and understaffed, so that most kids who could benefit from them slip through the cracks instead.
So what is a mom to do to keep her kids safe?
This is the part that I get stuck on.
What can I do?
How do I protect my girls from the possibility that an active shooter will enter their school? Or our church?
I don’t have all the answers. And I do feel a little bit powerless as one individual.
BUT – I decided that I won’t stay silent anymore.
For what it’s worth, I won’t keep quiet while I watch yet another group of mothers mourn their babies, taken before them.
I’ll also take more care to vote in every election (local, state, and beyond) for people that value the same things that I do. People that also want to see health care made more accessible, people that want to see our kids safe every day at every school.
Because you know what?
I don’t want to send my oldest daughter to school with a doorstopper in her backpack. To supposedly keep a killer from being able to enter her classroom easily.
I don’t want my girls’ teachers trained to carry guns and “neutralize threats.” That’s not their job. My child’s teacher is not a soldier.
Plus, our school system can’t even afford to provide notebook paper and hand sanitizers for our classrooms, how are they going to provide teachers with expensive guns and licensing?
If you disagree with me, that’s ok. That’s your opinion. This is mine.
But if you’re feeling like me – angry, scared, frustrated, helpless – I want to urge you to raise your voices too.
Moms (and dads), our children need us now more than ever.