School Shootings No Longer Shock Us, and That is Tragic

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On April 20, 1999, two high school boys entered Columbine High School and massacred twelve of their classmates and one teacher. I was a college freshman, and I recall for weeks after that shooting, there was non-stop news coverage. It was as if the world stopped and our collective attention focused on the shock produced by the horrors in that Colorado high school. From my dorm room, I watched funerals, tributes, and interviews with the victims’ families. I watched politicians and mental health professionals, arguing for gun control legislation, anti-bullying campaigns, and tougher security in America’s schools. As a teenager who was fresh out of high school, I was shocked. I could not fathom what would make two boys, basically my age, want to slaughter their classmates.  

Yesterday morning, the unthinkable happened. Again. A 15 year old student at Marshall County High School in western Kentucky open-fired on his classmates, killing two of them and wounding twelve others. Two families sent their kids off to a normal, typical day at school, only to receive the unbearable news that they would never be coming home. But this time, nearly 19 years since the Columbine shooting, there hasn’t been non-stop coverage of this horrific crime. Sure, it’s been part of the cable news cycle all day, and I’ve seen articles pop up here and there on my social media feeds, among news of Oscar nominations and ongoing political infighting. But the shock isn’t there anymore.

The news of another school shooting, the senseless deaths of American children going about their day, barely registers and certainly doesn’t hold our national attention. 

I’m no longer shocked when I wake up to reports of yet another mass shooting, and as a mother, that horrifies me. My children are growing up in a very different world than I did. News, information, and entertainment are readily available with the swipe of their finger on a device, yet not even the vilest of crimes makes much of an impression on anyone anymore. I grieve for my children, whose sense of the world and what and who is safe is being colored by a culture of violence and death. How does a parent have conversations about these horrible, yet commonplace occurrences without causing unnecessary fear, and yet still teach our children that this should horrify us? It really should. But, it doesn’t, at least for long. Tomorrow, we’ll all be on to the next story in our 24-hour news cycle culture. 

We are only three weeks in to 2018 and there have been 10 school shootings in American schools since the year began. I didn’t know about the other 9- did you? At the very least, I want to send my children to school with the expectation that they won’t be a victim of a shooting on their campus. However, clearly that expectation is naive, because this just keeps on happening. At this point, it seems like my children being affected by gun violence {either directly or indirectly} is not a question of if, but when

There certainly are no easy solutions, and no one hot-button issue on which we can place all the blame. But what if we, as mothers, collectively decided NO MORE? What if we passionately and decidedly refuse to stand for this to happen to our children even one more time? Mothers are smart. We are resourceful. We know how to put on our Mama Bear superhero capes and get done what needs to get done. Let’s band together, with righteous anger, put aside our political, religious, and personal differences to protect the lives of our children. 

I certainly don’t want to parent out of fear, and be scared to send my children to school. But I also don’t want to ignore the very real, very present problem of school shootings. I don’t know the families of the victims of yesterday’s shooting, but today, I’m grieving especially for those mothers. The rest of their lives will be defined by what happened on that ordinary January day in an ordinary American school. And my kids’ school could be next. I could be the next grieving mother. 

Whatever it takes, and whatever the cost, our children’s lives are worth it. We are never going to agree completely on the specifics of gun control, but can we at least agree that as mothers, we will not tolerate kids having access to guns and kids being shot at school? Surely we can agree on this point and find a solution to stop our children from being massacred at school. Let’s stop being comfortable and complacent, mentally betting that this won’t ever happen to our families. Because it very well could, unless we figure out a way to unite and say NO MORE

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Elizabeth was raised in Houston and met her husband Ryan shortly after graduating from Texas A&M with a journalism degree. A few years later, Grayson {Sept 2010}, turned Elizabeth’s world upside down, not only with his sparkling blue eyes and killer smile, but with his profound disabilities and diagnosis of Mitochondrial Disease. After two years of navigating the world of special needs parenting, Elizabeth and Ryan were blessed with Charlotte {Jan 2013} and Nolan {Sept 2015}, perfectly completing their party of five. Elizabeth and her crew live in Katy, and when she can steal a few moments for herself, she can be found out for Mexican food and margaritas with girlfriends, binge-listening to podcasts and audiobooks, or trying once again {unsuccessfully} to organize her closet. In addition to her role as Managing Editor of HMB, Elizabeth writes about faith, politics and special needs parenting for publications like Scary Mommy and HuffPost.You can connect with Elizabeth on Facebook,Twitter, Instagram, or ElizabethKBaker.com

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