Thoughts on School Shootings

The school shooting in Newtown, CT at Sandy Hook Elementary School brought back extremely poignant memories for me.

As some of you may know, I was at Virginia Tech in April 2007 when 32 people, students and faculty, were senselessly murdered in a mass shooting on campus. There are so many things I remember vividly about that day. I remember the weather; cold, more windy than I had ever seen, snow flurries that seemed so late for that time of year. I remember not understanding the magnitude of what had happened until I got home from being evacuated from the campus. I remember being on lock down in my office with my co-workers and any students we found wandering the halls. I remember the phones not working; the cryptic, bare-minimum emails sent out by campus trying to keep us apprised of the situation. And mostly I remember the sadness of the days that followed. The candlelight vigil. The counseling sessions. The reporters randomly stopping you as you tried to go about your day on campus. Learning that a friend was a victim and dealing with the loss. Having the media descend on our small mountain town, making us almost feel trapped, with a giant spotlight on our campus….a spotlight on us as we tried to cope with the sudden, griping loss of so many from our already small community and the feeling of “how could this happen.”

The hardest part about the events of last Friday is the innocence stolen not only from the community but the lives of the children. They never had a chance to live. They never had a chance to see what life could offer and their parents will forever wonder what could have been. My past experiences coupled with my recent parenthood put this tragedy in the forefront of my mind. I thought of my child not having the opportunity to truly live, to have his life stolen in that way is truly unbearable.

What I don’t think I will ever understand is why. The gun debate flared up again, just as it did back in 2007 and with each subsequent mass killing, it will resurface. The real question is will it ever change? Or will, as always, this debate last until the national consciousness moves on to something else and we are back where we started.

The debate is valid and there is no quick and dirty answer to this problem. My husband and I own guns and believe in the right of every American to be able to do so. How do we reconcile our deeply-held beliefs as a country in gun-rights for all with our need for safety from those who aren’t responsible gun owners? How do we police, screen, or better determine who can be trusted and who can’t? Is that possible without taking it all away?

I myself hope that the debate continues. I hope that these tragedies don’t leave our minds so quickly and that we continue to strive to attain a balance of freedom and safety for our fellow Americans, and most importantly our future.

2 thoughts on “Thoughts on School Shootings

  1. your story is so interesting because you’ve been involved in something so horrific, seen first hand the devastation that is wreaked. I cannot imagine it.
    I also cannot imagine living somewhere where having a gun is considered normal.
    Here in Australia, we’re all up in arms about your gun laws because it’s so foreign a concept……if you have weapons, you use weapons. The more people with weapons, naturally, the more shooting there will be.
    It seems Americans feel they need the guns to feel safe from people with guns……how do we change this?
    Nice honest post…..good luck.

    • Thank you for your comment. It is interesting to see how the rest of the world views us. Those outside of the United States have to remember that our country was founded on the principles of the right to bear arms. It’s our 2nd Amendment! The true meaning behind it is a fear that if we turn over our arms to the government, they will overrun us. We will possibly create a dictatorship or communist country be not keeping ourselves armed and reminding our government of our power to revolt. That is the intention that is implied when the Constitution for our country that was drafted. That is the argument that is relied on when debates about changing things arise. But is spending so much time fighting to stay armed against our government doing more harm right now than good?

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