To say that the last year has been a difficult one for our community is an understatement. The pain of the 17 innocent lives that were so brutally taken away is so evident not just for the families of the victims but for the community at large. As we hit the one year mark of this tragedy, I can only just imagine the pain and the heartbreak the families of the 17 victims who lost their life. Our worst fears have come true for them.
As I sit here with my two little girls, I feel immense anger and sadness about the innocent lives lost and the pain of the families and also because of the inaction to make schools safer. I have been struggling with a sense of safety for my little girls. Every day is a struggle to send them to school. I stand at the gate of the school and watch them as they walk the long walkway to their classrooms. I try and not think about the fears that are in my head as I try and convince myself that I am standing there, extra long, because I just like watching them walk all the way to their classrooms and not because of the fear of not seeing them again. It is this convincing of myself that allows me to walk away from school after dropping them off.
Someone recently said to me that since this senseless gun violence has happened in our area our schools should be much safer. In a common sense world, this would make sense that if a tragedy of this magnitude happens that we would do everything in our power to prevent it from even happening again. As we all know there are two paths to achieve safer schools. First is having common sense gun laws; universal background checks, age restrictions, mental health restrictions and restrictions on the type of guns that are available to the general public.
Secondly make schools safer. There has been so much controversy around having better gun laws and we as a community, as a country have struggled to come to a common ground as to what needs to be done to keep gun violence out of our schools. While I see that we need stringent gun laws and only responsible people with no red flags and no mental health issues should be allowed to buy these high powered guns, if at all, not everyone shares this sentiment. I don’t believe in impeding on anyone’s right to bear arms but the right to live has to be the biggest one. The right to not be murdered just because you you went to school, or a concert, or a mall, or a nightclub, or where ever has to be the highest. It has to be above all. It just has to!
Until we can have gun laws that protect us and our children, we have to fiercely make our schools safer so that they are not a target anymore. Build boundary walls, install metal detectors, more armed guards, bullet proof glass, controlled access buildings, lets bring it all. Lets bring it all for the sake of our kids. Lets do this so a tragedy like MSD does not ever happen again. Lets forget for a minute that schools should not look like jails and just remember that schools are a target. We have to do everything in our power to protect our children and our teachers fiercely.
The changes or the lack thereof in school safety is appalling. The school that my girls go to is a stones throw away from Stoneman Douglas and the changes that I have seen in amping up security have been minimal as if a tragedy hasn’t happened right in our neighborhood. One would think that schools around MSD would be safe as fortresses given the proximity but it is so not the case. Anyone can stand in the front lobby of the school and tell you all the safety issues that are obvious from just standing outside let alone all the issues that would come if you take a look closer. It is not going to be easy to get where we need to be. As a community we need to demand more from our elected officials and continue doing this until each and every student and teacher is safe. Until kids as young as 5 years old are not stuffing themselves into closets at school in the name of code red drills. We need to band together until all of us are safer.