As an editor in the era of mass shootings, I have many options when a school shooting occurs. I can repost the article I wrote the last time there was one or maybe the one I wrote about the shooting before that. Or if that feels too raw, I can turn to our content series about finding the common ground for gun safety or one of the variety of articles we’ve run after prior shootings.
Or if “only” one or two kids are shot, I can decide to let it go by without coverage. These shootings, after all, have become commonplace. They’re swallowed up by the news cycle within hours. Sometimes, we shake our heads and choose not to cover them at all.
Yesterday, I chose to go with the common ground. I asked our social media manager to repost our series to social media, and I tried to forget about the Parkland shooting. Not because it isn’t tragic or because I don’t care, but because this morning I had to send all six of my school-aged children to school.
Some of their schools have become secure buildings, which require the office to buzz you in. All of them now lock all but one entrance to the school. But I know locked doors or buzzers won’t protect my kids from a classmate with a gun.
A few weeks ago, my two high schoolers came home and told me one of their classmates had a gun at school. The authorities found out and no one was hurt, but it feels too close to home now as I watch Parkland high school students’ Snapchat stories. I can imagine my teens texting me or snapping those terrifying moments. Last night, I began Google’ing bulletproof backpacks.
There is nothing to say about gun violence in America. Everything has already been said. We have watched children die, time and again, without taking action. Our leaders accept millions from the NRA and they console us with their “thoughts and prayers.” Parkland will be forgotten in a week or a month, only to be replaced with the next school or town.
This morning, I watched the video of a student who survived yesterday’s shooting. He called for adults to do something. Get over your politics and get something done, he implored. And we should be ashamed of ourselves for needing a high school kid to tell us that.
Powerful plea from a student who survived the Parkland shooting, David Hogg: “Please! We are children. You guys are, like...the adults. Take action, work together, come over your politics, and get something done.” pic.twitter.com/UcTNungORp
— Vera Bergengruen (@VeraMBergen) February 15, 2018
My teens don’t remember a time before school shootings. They grew up in a post-Columbine world. They saw Sandy Hook unfold on their TVs, and they’ve long participated in lockdown drills and even a few shelters in place. They’ve worried about students bringing guns to school, and they deal with their fears by joking about which classmates they think will “shoot up their school.” We have failed them, and I’m ashamed of my own complicity.
It doesn’t have to be this way. But as a mother outside of the political arena, it’s hard to know how to make change happen. It feels too big and too impossible, like much of the modern political climate. How can I fight an entire system that cares more about money than children’s lives?
This is why I chose the common ground yesterday. No matter how much I might want to scream about guns today, I don’t believe that we’ll achieve progress with partisan politics. I believe that we’ll only put an end to gun violence when we agree to come together on policies that keep our kids safe. It can’t be an us against them mentality, where everyone is defensive and no one is listening. We’ve tried that. It doesn’t work.
Our sons are being radicalized at an alarming rate. We need to talk about the impact that white nationalism, mental health and easy access to guns has on our kids. We need to stop pretending there’s a simple solution to a complicated problem, and we need to have the tough conversations that will lead to real change.
I am tired of thoughts and prayers. It’s up to us to create change. And we won’t get there unless we all agree to set aside our politics for the greater good.
Our kids’ lives depend on it.
Want to get involved? Join Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America learn how you can help.