January, 1963. The author shown with cowboy uniform complete with toy guns strapped to his waist.
“Do you want to be the good guy or the bad guy?” I would sometimes ask my friend as a child. We always had such a wild imagination. We would dodge behind trees with a plastic weapon that would shoot imaginary projectiles toward our opponent. Sometimes I would use a kitchen towel as a cape that would flutter in the wind as I ran.
During combat we would take turns “dying” by holding our stomachs and collapsing to the ground in agony. Of course, neither of us knew the real pain of a gunshot wound, or the concept of being killed by another.
During a protest for gun control in Washington, DC, an eighteen-year old girl stood bravely behind a microphone facing thousands. She stood for six minutes and twenty seconds but spoke for only slightly over two minutes. The most poignant part of her speech was not what she said, but her four minutes of silently staring into the crowd, symbolizing the brief time it took for a gunman to murder seventeen people at her school in Parkland, Florida.
Her name was Emma Gonzalez, and she taught us a new way to look at silence- it can be reverent. It can also be terrifying.
I have met hundreds of teachers through my business. It appears most of them chose their profession from their sheer love of teaching. I don’t think any of them planned on being enforcement officers where they would be required return fire on a student who could have been in that teacher’s class.
Shouldn’t schools be places for children to to learn the wonders of the world while developing their social skills? Shouldn’t they be places of excitement? Or should they be places of fearing they may be one day pierced with a bullet, by an intruder or even accidentally by their own teacher?
Should we ask ourselves, in our modern world, at any age, should we be able to own or purchase a weapon of war? Have we come to the point where we are now giving more emphasis on the right to own guns than the right to live our lives without the fear of being mortally wounded?