Yesterday afternoon I got the following text from my daughter:
Hey there is a lockdown at my school could you find out what is happening
The lack of punctuation and capitalization flew through my mind as I processed what I was reading.
Hey there is a lockdown at my school . . .
My brain clicked. This was it. Real time. I stared at those words and went into full-scale efficient mode. I checked local news. Her school's website. Emailed administration. Texted other parents. Texted her to hold tight and that everything would be fine.
She didn't write back.
This is a NYC public school. Brooklyn Tech, the biggest specialized high school in the city. If something was going on, I figured someone should be reporting it.
Finally I got an email saying it was just a drill. I breathed a little easier.
But it wasn't. Apparently someone with a firearm was spotted in the vicinity of the building. The school's website soon noted a shelter-in protocol had been initiated. Here I must express nothing but gratitude for the administration and staff and NYPD for acting so quickly to keep everyone in the building safe.
I started to cry. And couldn't stop.
In elementary school I caught the chicken pox, broke my pinky, had a bad reaction to a bee sting. At the edges of my memory are occasional air raid drills, hunching under a desk, hands clasped behind my neck as protection from flying glass in case a bomb struck. An attack from a foreign country was our biggest fear.
Never, in my wildest dreams, in my worst nightmares did the thought that someone would enter a school with rounds (and rounds and rounds) of ammunition, looking to slaughter. That innocent children, teachers, administrators could/would be shot to death, that those who survived, both in the immediate communities and all over the world, would suffer the ramifications of such brutal, shocking violence.
In the past week I read about parents sending their children to school with weapons. Others suggested arming teachers. As the conversation (finally, thank god, it's profoundly overdue) about gun control began, gun sales are on the rise. The NRA is now suggesting putting armed guards in schools. Yes, making sure children are within a gun's reach every day. And there are those who still throw out the rhetoric that Americans need to be able to defend their families.
Here's my question: defend them from what?
At this point we're defending ourselves from each other. And failing miserably.
This is the new normal. When going to the movies, to the mall, to elementary school can be deadly.
Guns kill. And everyone in this country deserves laws protecting us from the unspeakable tragedies they bring.