It’s back to school time. We’ve bought our children pencils, markers — 12 count, bold tip — we buy disinfectant for their hands and tissues for their noses. Fresh haircuts, new outfits, shoes that light up and erasers for mistakes. We will do anything for these shiny-faced, crooked-toothed, pieces of our palpitating hearts. Almost anything.
It’s back to school in an era of mass shootings. Students go to school to learn math, art, and how to silently hide under their desks in case a shooter comes strolling through the school. A version of an email from my children’s school, which is sent every year, assures me the active shooter drills won’t alarm the children. “It’s a fun game of hide-and-seek!”
It must be a game to us, what else could it be? Because there is no willingness to discuss, no compromises to be made. The president lied about being willing to put forth a bill on universal background checks. Gov. Kim Reynolds has said a “holistic approach” is needed to gun control. But wouldn’t commit to supporting specific pieces of gun legislation.
Better to play a game of “toss the blame” than remember the $3.1 million in financial support U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst received from the NRA. Or that in February of 2017, when Ernst voted to block passage of a rule that would have kept the mentally ill from obtaining guns with a background check. In this fun game of hide-an-seek, let’s remember that at a town hall this month, Ernst said of mass shootings, “A lot of the incidents we’ve seen do come back to mental illness.” It has to be a game. What else could excuse the tripping over your own voting record?
School shootings are a $2.7 billion industry. Bulletproof backpacks, bulletproof whiteboards, doors that are bulletproof but can also take a picture of the shooter. No price is too-high for our children’s safety except the price of handing over our assault-style weapons.
The majority of mass shootings in America are committed by white men, who are American citizens. But Republican lawmakers are obsessed with closing our borders because of the threat of “crime” from immigrants. And our president tells us late night twitter tales of terrorism, meanwhile we are busy terrorizing ourselves through inaction.
And it has to be a game for us too. Because so many gun owners are unwilling to do anything about it. Two weeks ago, woman who owns 30 guns, shrugged off the mass shootings saying, “Well no country gets it perfectly.”
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And every week, I see on First Avenue in Cedar Rapids, people standing and praying to end abortion. When a simple vote to hold our senators accountable for a lack of action on gun control, would work a lot more miracles in saving the lives of our nation’s children.
Every time a child dies. Every time a festival, nightclub, or concert is terrorized, we are told not to make it political. But our bodies are political, our deaths are political. My children hiding under their desk in the game they play for their survival is political. What it needs to stop being is a game.
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