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I started teaching about a year after Columbine, the first in a long list of school shootings. I went to high school in the same district as Marjorie Stoneman Douglas aka Parkland. My high school had the same demographics as Parkland. So when Parkland happened it hit even closer to home.
I teach high school at a very small, rural, Title 1 (poor) school. Guns are a huge part of the culture. The day before the Uvalde shooting, one of my students asked me if I owned a gun. I told him no because where I am from guns are used to kill people. He was utterly shocked at this. He could not imagine life without his guns. Why? Because he hunts.
Guns at schools are becoming the norm. My child had an incident at his school about 2 weeks ago. A student brought a loaded gun to school. He took his mother’s gun without her knowledge. Thank goodness the gun was confiscated without incident. The student was in the 8th grade. We can sit here and talk about how the mother should have had the gun locked up and whatever else but the point…a CHILD brought a gun to school.
I have heard every argument in the book as to whether we should arm teachers or not. My district contemplated this for real after Parkland. My female friend was asked to be one of these teachers. She told them no and she owns guns and has her concealed carry.
I have heard every argument in the book about whether we should have more security or not. My school has had a school resource officer on campus the entire time I have been a teacher. Do I think that his presence will deter someone who is desperate? Not in the slightest.
I am astounded that the people in charge are not doing anything about this epidemic. And yes it is an epidemic in the United States. I am not saying that we should do away with guns. I am saying that it is beyond time to make policy changes to make guns harder to get hold of and keep out of the hands of the wrong people. Please spare me your arguments about the bad guys having guns and not following the rules. The police in Uvalde had guns and still did not act. I am an advocate for background checks, classes, and licensing. I am an advocate for restricting the types of guns that can be sold. Let’s face it, who needs an AK-15? This is a gun that was made to kill people, not deer.
As we know, not all shootings occur in schools. Nobody should be afraid to go to the grocery store or church because they may be the next victim of a mass shooting. It is time for our lawmakers to really act. I am tired of thoughts and prayers. Thoughts and prayers have never kept an incident from happening. Policy and change are what keeps things like this from happening.
Cindy Putnam is a high school teacher. She just completed her 22nd year teaching in Florida.