When the news broke yesterday of another mass shooting, this time in a Florida high school, I’ll admit something pretty awful: I scrolled right on by. Part of the reason I didn’t want to find out more was that I don’t always have the emotional bandwidth to take in this kind of atrocity, especially when details are still sketchy. The other part, though? It’s the fact that this is now normal, in America. There have been 18 school-related shootings in the U.S. since January 1, 2018. That’s one every three days. So I saw the news story and just didn’t pay much attention to it.
As the hours passed and more information was made available, I felt a heavy weight settle on my shoulders. Those children. Their parents. The terrifying reality of hearing a friend dying, while you hide from the shooter.
The first thing that goes through my mind when this kind of news breaks is how lucky I feel to be Canadian. I have so many American friends who grow more and more afraid to send their children to school. I know an American mom whose baby was born just a few months before the Sandy Hook shooting, and she immediately decided she would homeschool her children to help alleviate her anxiety. I think I might do the same, in her shoes. Canada certainly doesn’t have a perfect record, when it comes to mass shootings, but the fear that runs rampant among American parents just doesn’t exist here like it does down south.
The second thing that goes through my mind, however, is anger. Anger, because how can the majority of a nation as big as America rank their right to gun ownership as more important than the safety of their children? That is what it comes down to, ultimately. They would instead bring even more guns into their schools and workplaces, so they can defend themselves against the villains who dare to commit these crimes than remove the ability to purchase any guns at all. Or even restrict the ownership of them in any way.
Americans blame the mentally ill for these horrific events, saying that these people would find a way to get guns even if they weren’t legal because they were hell-bent on violence. What they don’t seem to understand is that the mental illness that has taken over America is its obsession with guns and the 2nd Amendment, the right to bear arms. No other country in the world has as many guns per capita, and no other country in the world has this level of gun violence. That is not a coincidence, but it seems to be the fact that those in the pocket of the NRA easily forget.
Yesterday, more than a dozen parents sent their kids to school, and never got to see them alive again. We raise our children with typical parenting fears: getting injured from a sport, getting abducted, choking on a piece of food not cut up small enough, SIDS, getting bullied. But the fear of your child shot while at school? Those are the fears of a parent living in a war zone.
You have to wonder if that’s what America has become.