19

As most of you know, I’m the oldest of six. I have three younger brothers and two younger sisters. Their ages are 26, 22, 18, 18, and 13. The two 18-year-olds (No, they are not twins, they don’t have the same mom or dad) have graduated high school and are off to college to discover themselves. You know how teenagers do. The thirteen-year-old will be entering eighth grade. That much closer to high school.

19 children will never go to middle school. 19 children will never go to high school. 19 children will never attend college. And as I sat on the couch yesterday, crying because I was sad for those poor parents who lost their children, angry that this is our new reality, our children’s reality, I had a sinking thought.

This could happen to my thirteen-year-old brother. My little brother who loves Batman and Star Wars. My little brother who sends me a picture of every new sketch. That could be him. That could be my professors who have children of their own in elementary, middle, and high school. That could be us at the universities and community colleges. That fear that we can’t even send our children to school, a place where they are supposed to be safe. That we are afraid to send them school because we could get there and they could be gone.

I was sobbing yesterday. Some children had to be identified by DNA. Parents talked about how their child was on the honor roll, how they wanted to be a lawyer like their mom, how they loved football, just over and over, all these parents who lost their children. Most who were maybe only ten years old. It was the day before summer vacation started. Now, instead of planning trips to see grandparents or to the beach, 19 parents will be planning funerals.

It’s more than tragic. It’s more than awful.

I mean this has been a problem since Columbine. And yet, nothing still hasn’t been done about it. Some talk about arming the teachers. Yes. Because more guns is the solution. Why don’t we figure out why these kids shoot up schools? Did you ever think about that? Mental health is a major problem and it needs to be addressed. I do think there needs to be background checks for guns. It needs to be necessary. You want a gun? Cool, fine. Whatever. But first, you have to have a background check. You have to learn some gun safety. I don’t think 18-year-olds should be able to own a gun. They can’t drink or smoke cigarettes at 18. Raise up the age to 21. And personally, though I know I’ll get some hate on this, I don’t think anyone needs Aks and the assault automatic rifles. Why do you need that? To protect yourself. Please. You don’t sleep with that in your nightstand. No, it’s probably a pistol or a handgun. Why do civilians need guns that are for military use mostly? Just saying. I’m not saying take the guns. I’m saying that there is a clear problem. It’s been clear since Columbine.

This isn’t about guns. It’s about protecting our children. Because honestly right now, I wish my brother was being homeschooled. Now I wonder if he’s safe. I wonder if he has to do intruder drills. We did. In middle school and high school, much like we did fire drills and tornado drills, we did intruder drills. The teacher would close all the blinds if we had windows in the classrooms. We had to either hide under our desks or crowd in a corner as far away from the door and windows as possible. Because that’s going to work when the intruder has an assault rifle.

At my old office, maybe a year and a half ago, we talked about what we would do if someone came on campus with a gun. Our office doors are glass.

Glass.

There was no safety measure we could really take because the doors are glass.

I wish there were more words to say. I wish I had something I could say. But it’s all been said. Over and over and over again. It’s been said. This isn’t new. This is our reality. Our children’s reality. The tragedy is that this didn’t have to happen. That if for once we could come together as a country, set aside our differences, and finally be together and realize that it’s about our children, and come to terms on gun regulations and fixing the mental health crisis. That maybe what happened in Texas wouldn’t have happened. But we can’t even do that. I’d like to say that we won’t have another school shooting, or another shooting at a mall, concert, grocery store, etc., but until people in the government finally do something, we probably will.

My heart goes out to those who lost a child in Texas. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m so sorry that this happened. That this keeps happening.

-K

A poem from Amanda Gorman:

“Schools scared to death.

The truth is, one education under desks,

Stooped low from bullets;

That plunge when we ask

Where our children

Shall live

& how & if.”