3 school shootings in 2 days? Speak out.

Speak Out Indicates Be Heard And AnnouncementYes, it’s true. There have been 3 school shootings in the last 2 days that have gone largely ignored. Why? Good question. What’s the answer? Preventing them in the first place. Most school shooters, if children or teens, get their guns from home. Others are due to adults who have an issue with anger, vengeance or whatever else can be explained as to reasons why people take their guns out in public and decide to shoot innocent people.

Of course this wouldn’t be happening if there were fewer guns around in our country and less access to the ones we have. But this is America where guns flow freely and children and adults die or are wounded in large numbers every day.

This is not normal or inevitable. It is, however, preventable.

It’s actually past time to speak out about gun violence and how to prevent it but it’s never too late to save lives. Gun violence is a public health epidemic that is ignored. People are dying and shootings continue apace.

Today in Kentucky, a shooter shot kids at a school. This CNN article tells us the facts so far as they are known:

Seven people were taken to hospitals, some by helicopter, said Darlene Lynn of Marshall County Emergency Management.
The shooter is in custody, she said.

More information about the Kentucky school shooting has been released. Now 2 are dead and 17 are injured. This is now an official mass shooting- way too common in America. This was preventable as they all are.

Sigh.

Yesterday a 16 year old boy wielding a gun he should not have had in the first place, opened fire and one girl was taken to the hospital after being shot in a Texas school:

The suspect was a student who left the Italy High building immediately after firing several shots with a .380-caliber handgun in the cafeteria, officials say. Usually 45 to 55 students are in the cafeteria at that time. (…)

“This could have been avoidable,” she said. “There were so many signs.”

Shook said she first went to school officials after the boy allegedly made a “hit list” in eighth grade and her name was on it. Then last year, the boy got angry during a class and threw a pair of scissors at her friend and later threw a computer against a wall, she said.

“I ran out of the classroom screaming, telling everyone to hide because I was scared,” Shook said.

Where is common sense?  Given that there were warning signs that the shooter had anger issues, why in the world did he have a gun? Every gun in the hands of a child must first pass through the hands of an adult. Guns need to be safely stored and locked, unloaded, if they are in the home with children and teens. More information will come out about how this boy got a gun. The most important thing is that adults are responsible for kids getting guns. And if there are warning signs, clearly kids like this should not have access to a gun.

Kids know something as one girl reported. She knew this boy was potentially dangerous to himself or others. See something, say something. These kinds of shooting are avoidable as was quoted in the article.

The Brady Campaign has a program called Speak-Up that is a toll free number for kids to call if they suspect that a school shooting could happen.

Sigh.

And the 3rd school shooting? Oh- just a drive by in New Orleans outside of a school causing a slight injury:

Police said someone in a dark pickup truck drove by The NET Charter High School, in the 6600 block of Franklin Avenue, and fired while a group of students were in front of the school, in the parking lot. The shooting took place about 1:30 p.m., principal Elizabeth Ostberg said.

One boy was injured: While police initially said the 14-year-old had a graze wound from a bullet, NOPD later said that the boy’s injury to his elbow was not consistent with a gunshot graze and was actually an abrasion.

From the story, it sounds like other students had some connection to guns as well. We are talking about young teens. Clearly they should not guns. It’s lunacy really.

Gun Violence Archive tells us that so far this year, 191 children and teens 17 or under have been killed or injured by bullets. It’s only January 23rd.

Since I included a link provided by CNN, I want to talk about another gun story that has flown under the radar in the news affecting the news agency. An angry man threatened to shoot CNN employees in Michigan, being angry about the accusations of #fakenews against the media group coming from none other than our President:

Griesemer allegedly called CNN 22 times on Jan. 9 and 10, railing against African-Americans, Jews and CNN from the same phone number that was used in September to communicate threats against an Islamic center in Ann Arbor, according to an FBI affidavit.

The affidavit said that Griesemer, whose age was not listed, admitted to local police that he made the call to the mosque and that he was “angry at the time of the call.”

Four of the 22 calls to CNN included explicit threats, according to the FBI. In one of the calls, the caller said: “Fake news. I’m coming to gun you all down.” In another call, he said, “I’m coming for you, CNN. I’m smarter than you. More powerful than you. I have more guns than you. More manpower. Your cast is about to get gunned down in a matter of hours.”

This one could have resulted in death and injury to innocent people. Words mean something. Attacks against the media made by a President who has a vendetta against what he has decided is #fakenews is very dangerous. When this kind of rhetoric comes right from the top, it is not surprising that an unhinged person with guns will decided to take action.

This is lunacy. Words matter. Having access to guns matter when one is too angry to think through consequences.

This is why we should be passing Extreme Risk Protection Order bills so that if a family member is concerned that someone with guns could be a danger to themselves or others, guns can be temporarily removed to avoid a tragedy to protect innocent people from harm.

We can do this America. Demand solutions and answers. We can save lives if we decide we are going to stand up and make our voices heard.

A close call

close callA few weeks ago, my daughter called me late in the evening to share some text messages from parents of kids at her own children’s middle school. The messages were in regard to a possible threat by a new student at the school who had apparently told other students that he intended to bring a gun to school and shoot kids. Naturally the reaction was panic and concern. Some parents had decided not to send their kids to school the next day. I advised that parents needed to speak with the principal to insure that he had done what he needed to do to deal with the situation. He had received many phone calls that night and actually, during the day some students went to him with their concerns about the student.

This is exactly what is supposed to happen. Students need to Speak Up and tell someone that a student is talking about shooting kids. Too often students try to protect other students or just don’t tell out of fear or indifference or thinking that it won’t happen. But in most school shootings other students knew ahead of the shooting. The Brady Campaign has a Speak Up program for students to report anonymously that another student intends to shoot other kids:

Although the hotline provides the mechanism through which students can report potentially life-saving information, it is critical that students are also provided with the motivation to do so. Our comprehensive public awareness campaign works to combat destructive social norms, such as the fear of retaliation or being labeled a “snitch.” The campaign sends the powerful message that students can and should “SPEAK UP” against violence.

Let me get back to this story. The principal had phoned the parents of the boy who had made the threat and the decision was that the student would not be in school the next day.

As the incident unfolded, my daughter chose to send her kids to school but did not tell them about the incident, trying not to panic them. But once they got on the bus, this was the topic of discussion. My grandson texted my daughter to ask if she knew that a boy intended to shoot kids at the school that day and my granddaughter asked her to come and pick her up because she was going to die. Some of this can be chalked up to pre-teen and teen-aged dramatic behavior and a tendency to overreact to things. But much of it can also be chalked up to the real fear that a school shooting  could, and does, happen anywhere.

During the day, she reassured the kids that they would be OK and I even got in on a group text exchange. Eventually my daughter went to the school during a break from work and spoke with the school resource officer. That officer was there on site as were other officers just in case. She was calmed by this discussion and nothing happened that day.

But it could have. We are a family who has already lost one loved one to a shooting. This close call was more upsetting to my daughter and to me because we know how it feels to hear that a loved one has been shot.

Too many school shootings have taken innocent children from their parents leaving them living around the hole left by their deaths. Since Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook and the many other school shootings, parents understand the risk is all too real.

Only in America do parents have to be regularly concerned that an actual shooting could take their children away or leave them injured or forever scarred by witnessing a shooting. We are all suffering from PTSD from all of the shootings we see directly or indirectly on news media stories.

In 68% of school shootings the shooters get their guns from home. That means keeping guns away from potential school shooters is in the hands of parents or another responsible adult.  Adults can make school shootings less likely and less frequent by thinking about what they are doing with their own guns and how they are stored. Guns are deadly weapons designed to kill.

Just a little bit of common sense can stop shootings and stop kids from getting a loaded gun to take to school. Unless we change how we talk about potential and actual threats and think differently about the risks of guns in the home, the media will continue to report on school shootings. It doesn’t have to be this way.

We are better than this. The incident I described above was of concern to my family but ended with some lessons learned. Kids can speak up, adults must listen and act, parents talk to administrators and administrators call law enforcement. Authorities and school officials did their job and students were brave enough and scared enough to know what to do. Sometimes kids are smarter than the adults.

And I will end by suggesting that all parents find out more information about the ASK campaign so they can feel comfortable asking if there are loaded, unlocked guns in the homes where their children play and hang-out. Kids are curious; just telling them to stay away from guns does not work. It’s up to the adults to be responsible. It’s easy to do and asking can save lives. Millions of our children live in homes where guns are present.

Our children are both the victims and perpetrators of avoidable shootings in numbers that should alarm us. The corporate gun lobby is not alarmed. Many in Congress are not alarmed about something that should have all hands on deck to solve a very serious public health and safety epidemic. It is “not an accident” when children and teens gain access to guns and avoidably shoot or injure other children or even adults. Or to bring a gun to school, which happens on a regular basis in America. This article from The Trace has tracked how many times children and teens brought guns to their schools:

From August through mid-June, there were at least 269 incidents in which elementary, middle, and high school students were caught with guns on school grounds. That figure is an update to the March tally of 185 such incidents in the first five months of the school year. (Some incidents involved multiple students and multiple guns.)

In 2016, 269 incidents of kids bringing guns to school and this does not include any intentional school shootings:

Swanson, like many other gun safety advocates and researchers, believes government policy should focus on addressing Americans’ easy access to guns. Preventing tragedies like Sandy Hook requires more than expanding resources for mental health, he said ― the U.S. needs more laws restricting guns in households that include “at-risk” individuals. Swanson cited Lanza, who used his mother’s guns to carry out his attack, as an example of why this matters.

“A law like that would allow police officers to take away some of these guns,” Swanson said. “We shouldn’t have to live in a society where people have such easy access to such an efficient killing machine.”

Yet gun violence prevention efforts will likely encounter even more resistance under the incoming Donald Trump administration, with its close ties to the National Rifle Association, the most influential gun lobby in the country.

The NRA was Trump’s largest outside financial backer during the 2016 presidential race, spending more than $30 million to help his campaign.

“[The NRA] is going to expect something in return for that investment,” Watts said. “They’re going to have a champion in the White House.”

I referred to the Children’s Firearms Safety Alliance in my last post and I will refer to it again. From the site:

AS OF MAY 10, 2017, THIS YEAR:
37 KIDS KILLED
68 KIDS INJURED
5 ADULTS INJURED
1 ADULT KILLED

2016 TOTALS:
121 KIDS KILLED
176 KIDS INJURED
21 ADULTS SHOT….ALL BY KIDS

There are far too many close calls with guns involving children and teens. And there are far too many actual shooting incidents involving our children and teens.

The real tragedy here is that too many in Congress, and now our very own President, don’t care about the children. That is an American tragedy.

Follow the money. Money and power over our children.

Children go to school to learn, form relationships with other children, participate in enriching activities and to become responsible future adults. They should not have to be concerned for their own safety or that another student threatens to bring a gun to school to shoot them. Children are anxious enough about far too many things. This should not be one of them.

Who is protecting our children?

Keeping our kids safe is the primary job of parents and other adults. It’s one of the primary jobs of our elected leaders as well. If it isn’t, shame on them all.

It’s past time to step up and do the right thing.