The fate of whether or not guns should be allowed in schools is left in the hands, or paws, of grizzly bears. Yep, grizzly bears; those big, brown, hairy creatures that attack schools oh so often.
According to Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of education, “it should be up to states to whether guns are allowed in schools,” using grizzly bear protection as her evidence (http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/17/politics/betsy-devos...).
At her confirmation hearing, nominee DeVos was pushed to answer definitively by Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy as to whether or not guns should be in schools. Her answer? A reference to Wapiti, Wyoming where a fence was constructed to protect children from wildlife and the following quote, “I think probably there, I would imagine that there's probably a gun in the school to protect from potential grizzlies”. (http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/betsy-devos-sc...)
I was left speechless watching the videos of DeVos being grilled by Senators Murphy and Elizabeth Warren. Her answers were abstract, her experience is invalid, and not once do I think she looked at the effect of guns in schools from a teacher’s or school worker’s perspective.
My jaw, and I’m sure the jaws of many others, dropped and my heart sank. Never before was I so struck by something so political, and so afraid for our future.
To look back a bit, DeVos claims that not only should states be allowed to decide the gun policy in schools, but that she would also support Trump if he was to ban gun-free school zones, an element he pushed for throughout his campaign.
Writing this article, I still can’t fully comprehend what may happen if guns are allowed to be in school zones. I have several family members who work in schools and the idea of them having to carry around guns while just doing their job is disturbing, scary, and quite frankly just sad. It’s sad that this is what our world has come to. It’s sad that efforts to reduce gun violence have been put aside or condemned as a result of people being stuck in the mindset of solely wanting to protect their rights. And it’s sad that this election, nominee, and latest issue is the most recent curveball to be thrown at us. Schools are supposed to be safe places where kids can come and feel comfortable, learn and have fun while doing so.
With that being said, guns should not be allowed in schools. Period.
According to Vox, there have been 1,264 mass shootings since Sandy Hook in 2012. These numbers are taken from a study conducted by Gun Violence Archive, “a database that tracks events since 2013 in which four or more people (not counting the shooter) were shot at the same general time and location” (http://www.vox.com/a/mass-shootings-sandy-hook). Out of those mass shootings, at least 1,399 people were killed and 4,997 were wounded (To read more and follow this year’s statistics, go to: http://www.gunviolencearchive.org). These statistics alone speak volumes and unfortunately are increasing each day.
To imagine guns in schools is shocking, heartbreaking, and just appalling. The thought of walking through the hallways or being greeted to class with a teacher who has a gun attached to their hip sends chills down my spine, and the thought of accidents happening as a result of a malfunction or a child accidentally grabbing the weapon is unfathomable. A few years ago we were hailing teachers as heroes for saving their students from a man with a gun. If this all goes through and the worst possible scenario happens, we will be forcing them to hold the same object that has brought among them pain and suffering.
When is someone going to say enough is enough? When are we finally going to be able to see past political differences to put the safety of kids, families and citizens first? At one point, I thought that things were going to change. After Sandy Hook I witnessed several campaigns and groups coming together to advocate for gun control. I truly believe that there are people who want to see a change, who want to witness a decrease in gun violence among the United States. So why is it so hard for that to happen?
Mrs. DeVos, as Senator Elizabeth Warren clearly stated, you are not a fit candidate for the position of Secretary of Education. As Senator Chris Murphy stated, “In the years since the tragedy in Sandy Hook, the gun violence epidemic in America has only worsened as countless communities and families continue to be torn apart by violence” (https://www.murphy.senate.gov/issues/gun-violence). Allowing guns in schools will only open up new possibilities for violence. I commend Senators Murphy and Warren for continuing to follow their values and saying what needed to be said. We can only hope that one day all their hard work will pay off and who knows, maybe one day we will be able to let go a sigh of relief that we’ve been holding in for way too long.