Are school shootings the new normal?

Somewhere alone Highway 178 in the Tirol, where I got word about SPU.

Somewhere alone Highway 178 in the Tirol, where I got word about SPU.

Soaring high above road, I sat in the top front row of the double decker tour bus. Students were singing, “Do you wanna build a snow man!” as the bus swayed around the switchbacks of the Alpen highway. I was frantically trying to take pictures with my phone. At every turn a new landscape, more mind-blowing than the previous one, appeared in front of me.

I ignored my phone at first, when it began to buzz with updates. Then a text, “Did you hear about SPU?” With what little power I had left on my phone I scoured the news feeds for information.   I searched the Facebook updates of all those who attended SPU with me for news. Why would anyone target Seattle Pacific University?

Unfortunately, this past week has been filled with even more shootings. And now Troutdale, Oregon. I have friends from there. I know teachers that work in that district. It is all bit too much to take in.

I was teaching at Wenatchee High School in 1996 when one of the first school shootings happened only 30 miles from our home. All of us were crippled by the tragedy at Moses Lake. Many of our students and teachers knew the victims.

Two years later, school shootings seemed to be an epidemic. There was another spring shooting too close to home at Thurston High School in Oregon.  A boy, obsessed with guns and the recent version of Romeo & Juliet decided to take revenge on his classmates.  Then the big one happened.   Word came out during lunch to turn on our TV’s.   Columbine played out in real-time for all of us to see. It was incomprehensible.

Troutdale marks the 74th school shooting since December 14th, 2012, the date of the school shooting at Sandy Hook.   Are school shootings becoming a “normal” event?

With every lock down drill, I sit on the floor with my students and pray that I will never have to experience a shooting in my school. I wonder if I would have the courage to put myself between the gun and my students. Would I have the courage to bring down the gunman as he stops to reload?

Today, with just a few more days left in the school year, my heart goes out to those dealing with the losses and trauma created by these shootings.

What is the solution?  How can we make this stop?

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***And now it is October, 2014.  On the 24th, new victims of gun violence in a High School near Seattle.  When will we make it stop?

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4 replies

  1. I think there should be more controls. But I don’t think guns should be banned. Things like regulations for how guns are stored, waiting periods for sales of guns, background checks, smaller clips on assault rifles, etc.

  2. Unfortunately the media here just keeps focusing on the assailants. That day of the Reynolds shooting, I literally had to turn off my phone from so many friends texting and facebooking things like “do you know about the shooting?” “What are you telling your students?!” I got some pretty uncomfortable faces when I told them that I don’t go around announcing that kind of stuff to my students; that it makes them upset and we are there to learn. Nonetheless, the news was blasting info about the kid who did it, giving him the attention he was probably seeking. I don’t know how to make it stop, but I think the media is the first place to start.

    • You are exactly right. The assailants are getting exactly the attention they want. I remember having similar conversations about 9-11. Teachers with their tv’s going all day in front of the kids. Like kids need to see the towers falling like that over and over and over. To clarify though from my post, we did not watch the Columbine shooting in class. We had the tv going in the SS/Eng staff office.

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