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17 Nov

               Another week.  Another school shooting in America, which some say USED to be the greatest nation on earth.  (You can still argue that it is, but more and more you can argue that it isn’t.  Topic for another day).  And as I sat down to write this, I saw that there was another shooting, this time at a high school football game, resulting in a ten year old boy being in critical condition.

               I can only handle one tragedy per blog, so back to the first shooting.  This was about sixty miles from where I work (that qualifies as “close enough”) at Saugus High School.  Besides the shooter, “only” two children were killed.  I write it that way because that’s the way some (not all of you, just some) gun rights’ activists will look at it, even if they don’t admit it.  “Only” two children who won’t be around this Christmas (or anyone after that), won’t grow up to love and live and cry and make babies and pay taxes and all the other things that life holds if you actually make it that far.  “Only” two is still too many.

               This comes on the heels of an incident in my own school where a freshman brought a gun to a classroom one building over from mine, because he was being bullied.  Quick thinking and luck resulted in the only injuries being bruises to the perpetrator; we were lucky.

               I’ve already written on both sides of the gun debate (click here to read that earlier piece; I think it’s one of my best), so I won’t rehash what I wrote earlier.  Instead, a new thought:

               What can YOU do?

               The problem is not JUST gun control or mental health or bullying in schools or violent video games or kids that have no coping skills because mommy and daddy fix everything.  The problem is a complex tapestry of ALL of these things, and many more.   

               That’s good and bad.

               Bad first.  There’s a LOT to unravel, and a LOT to improve to get a handle on this problem.

               Here’s the good.  With so many factors, we can ALL do something to help.

               Gun owners (and I am one of you!), most of you that I know are incredibly safe and diligent regarding access to your weapons, and I thank you for that.  Is there ONE thing you can do differently to make things just a little safer around your home?  Better yet, I’m sure you know a gun owner who is not as diligent as you; talk to them about one thing THEY can do to be safer.

               Parents, does your child play first person shooter video games?  Mine do, and so do I. Play WITH them.  Talk to them, repeatedly, about that it is a game.  My son plays “Star Wars” in the park with his friends, and they are constantly pointing toy blasters at each other.  But I have had repeated discussions with my son that we never point at someone not in the game, and he has been disciplined (not harshly, but I got his attention) for doing so.

               Parents (again), are you teaching your child how to cope with adversity?  Or are you fixing every problem in their lives before they have a chance to experience disappointment and deal with it?  I teach high school; I deal with a lot of helicopter parents.  More than once I have had the discussion with a parent that I should be dealing with their cadet, not them, on the issue first.  The rule in my home with my fifth grade daughter is that if she has a problem with a teacher, she needs to address it first.  If she can’t fix it, then I get involved.  Find one thing that you can do to better get your kid ready for the real world so they don’t snap when a shoelace breaks and you aren’t there to fix it.

And then there is the average American citizen.  Did you vote last election?  Do you know what your party’s or candidate’s stance is on violence in general?  Gun control?  Mental health and healthcare?   Do you care?  Spend some time, get smart, and vote the way you think you need to in order to correct the problem as you see it.

               We can get this under control.  However, it will take resources (mental health care, more background checks, more security, our TIME), and these things cost money.  Think about how willing you are to pay more taxes to make this happen, because in the end it wont’ be cheap.

               Here’s the wrong answer.  “I don’t own a gun; I can’t do anything about it.”  That’s lazy and wrong.  There are so many facets to this problem that we can all do something about it, be it eighteen years old or eighty.  In the end, we need to relearn to respect each other like people, and realize that we are part of something larger than ourselves.

               I don’t want any more lockdowns this year.         

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