The Educator's PLN

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Trying to make sense of a senseless act

This is probably the wrong time to sit down and address what has just happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. All of the details are not yet out, but the news media has made many statements and assumptions that seem to hold up myths about schools that we continue to hear each time another of this growing number of horrendous incidents explodes on the TV screen. Reporters continue to ask the question, “Were all of the security and safety measures in place and adhered to?”

Here is a fact: Video cameras, Buzzers on doors, People sitting at desks in the hallways of schools, even metal detectors are not security against an armed attacker. The people maintaining these items could very well be the first victims of the assault. These measures and methods taken by schools are to give an illusion of safety to caring parents and teachers. It is an assurance that schools are seemingly doing something to protect children. None of these measures however, protect children from an armed intruder bent on killing as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time. In terms of schools, we must understand the people we refer to are children.

In my lifetime these tragic attacks have occurred at the college, high school, middle school and now at the elementary school level. Most recently, they also occurred at a movie theatre, shopping mall and a political open air, town hall gathering complete with a congresswoman. After each of those incidents the idea of discussion about the problem for some reason had to be put off for a few months before we could talk about it. I did not understand it then, and I do not understand it now. We need to see this as a problem. We can’t wait until we add a pre-school, or a maternity ward to the long and growing list of places where kids are being killed. This incident is now listed as number 5 in the Top school shootings. What civilized, educated country has a list like that? How long is that list?

The Terrorists of 911 have changed how we all travel today. Measures are taken to prevent weapons being taken aboard planes. Yes we are inconvenienced and many of us complain every time we go through those long lines. We comply, because it is reasonable, and it insures our right and freedom to travel. One imbecilic terrorist made an unsuccessful attempt to use a shoe bomb and today, and every day, any American boarding a plane takes off his/her shoes. We all complain about that, but it is a reasonable sacrifice for safety. The cost of us learning this lesson of reasonableness about safety and security in the air came at a huge price to our country. It took well over 3,000 lives in NYC, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C.

What is the total number of dead children that we need to get to before we can begin discussions to change what we are doing now? Obviously, what we are doing is not working. We need to have a discussion based on facts and not rhetoric. Too many of the facts about guns and their control have been distorted by too many people and a few organizations, well healed with the ability to put out misinformation and propaganda. We need critical thinking skills to sort through all of the BS. We need honesty, clarity and focus. We cannot start from a position stating that “nothing can be done”.  If we ask, how do we prevent another incident where 20 children, ages 5-10, and 8 adults being killed in an elementary school in a matter of minutes. How can an educated civilized culture accept that “nothing can be done” as an answer? If the solution doesn’t begin NOW with US, when will it begin? Is there an actual number of dead children that is a tipping point? More importantly, are my kids going to be in that number? Are yours?

I believe in the constitution, and I believe in the Second amendment. I believe that citizens have the right to own guns. I also believe that right comes with a very big responsibility. Not everyone is responsible. Not everyone is mentally stable enough to be held responsible. I believe that we can regulate guns with commonsense laws in consideration of the facts, and not the rhetoric. I believe that reasonable people can look at real facts and come to reasonable conclusions that can lead to reasonable controls. The process however must begin with discussion. That almost never happens after these horrific events. There will be blog posts like this, editorials, documentaries, and maybe a “60 Minutes” segment, but probably no real substantive, focused meaningful discussion to protect kids will ever take place in the political arena. Politicians need to put the right to life for our kids first. The discussions will move to protect the rights of people who may not capable of responsibility to hold in their hands the lives of our children. If not now, when? If not us, who?

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