Stayin’ Alive

Thoughts on mass shootings and gun control

A few weeks ago, I went to my local branch bank to make a deposit. It was unusually crowded, and I had to wait. As I stood in line, I found myself watching the people around me. At first, it was just for my own amusement. Then I noticed a person at the counter who seemed to be asking an inordinate number of questions. He had placed a backpack on the ledge next to him. Suddenly, my innocuous people-watching turned into a paranoid shooter-in-the-building fantasy. What would I do if the guy pulled a gun out of that backpack? I located the furniture that I could duck behind, and moved slightly closer to the nearest exit door. My heart raced. In my entire life, I can honestly say that I have never, ever had a thought that someone in the room with me would be carrying a gun and might use it. That was a first for me. It made me sick.

Now, a few weeks later, the survivors of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, have to return to their school. I can’t imagine the emotions they feel. Or their parents. Or their teachers.

Schools in Tulsa and across the country are dealing with false threats and frightened students and parents.

I was struck by a comment that I think one of the students made. “We’re the first generation to be known as the school shooting generation.” How sad is that? Because the NRA money is more important than children’s lives to our lawmakers, we have to live in fear of our children being shot and killed. Our children are growing up doing IOC drills. Why are we choosing this for our children? It is a choice, and it can only be turned around if we have the will to do it.

What is especially heartbreaking is that something could have been done long before the Florida school shooting happened. Is it more important for someone to own an assault rifle than it is for our children to be safe?

According to our president, the answer to the problem is more guns in schools. Why would we choose to arm teachers? It will help provide more money for gun manufacturers, but it won’t make schools safe. There are so many scenarios where this could go wrong. Let’s say a teacher in a Tulsa high school has around 150 students every day. That teacher doesn’t know his or her students well. Maybe one of those students has appeared to be troubled, or is unusually quiet. In this heightened state of fear that we currently live in, the teacher could misinterpret that student’s movement to pull a pen out of his pocket or a book out of a backpack as a possible move for a gun. The teacher, who is not a law enforcement officer, panics and pulls her gun and fires, accidently shooting a couple of innocent students and missing the one at which she’s aiming, who has just pulled a pen out of his pocket. That’s just one scenario. People who think teachers should be armed are living in some kind of fantasyland where every human being acts and reacts like a carefully trained android or an avatar in a video game.

What kind of country have we become that we have to even think about gun violence when we enter a school, go to a bank, a grocery store or movie theater?

Why is it “too soon” to talk about sensible gun safety? As one teenager said, “It’s not too soon. It’s too late.”

I’m all for more awareness and funding for mental health, but tell me why other countries who have the same number of mentally ill people but have fewer guns have fewer mass shootings and fewer homicides? Mental health is used as a scapegoat for those who don’t want to address the real problem. ( As Sarah Jones writes in “The Mental Health Scapegoat”:

The scapegoat, as defined in the Book of Leviticus, is a propitiation. He is to be presented alive before the Lord as an atonement for the sins of the people. The goat is an individual solution to a collective problem; he becomes too dangerous to tolerate. So he is sent into an uninhabited place to wander, where no one can see him. If he suffers, then he suffers alone. This is how the guilty scrub themselves clean: They pass their shame to the innocent. They create outcasts. And then they continue to sin.

The only proven, consistent way to stop the killing is with stricter gun laws. ( The equation is simple to understand. More guns = more homicides.

The adults in power have failed to protect the children in this country. I wonder how many of the lawmakers would support sensible gun legislation if the NRA were banned from donating money to them?

Now the young people have said they’ve had enough and are organizing to stop gun violence. They are idealistic and bring hope for change, perhaps shaming Congress into action with their energy and honesty. The students are planning a nationwide March for Our Lives on March 24, and have formed a group #NeverAgain. The website is The Tulsa March for Our Lives details are to be announced.

To learn more about Oklahoma’s gun control laws, read this article from Oklahoma Watch.

Categories: Editor’s Blog