As a teacher and a mother, I start out each day wondering if this will be the day I get a call that something awful has happened at my son’s school or my daughter’s college campus — or they will get a call about a shooting at my school.
Every day, as I drop my son off at school, I remind him to be aware of his surroundings and to make sure to tell an adult if he sees anything that seems suspicious.
I then head to my school, where I am constantly alert to intruders. My co-teacher and I recently looked over our rooms to see how we could save as many children as possible if, God forbid, the unthinkable happened.
Yes, teachers are now tasked with OpSec, as we are on the front lines of a war being waged against our schools by unstable and hate-filled, gun-toting maniacs. We did not take an oath to die in the line of duty, but that is what too many are doing. We are there to teach, but are aware that the day may come when we are asked to die trying to save others. It is not something we want to do, but something we will do if necessary.
And, no, we do not want to be armed. Every teacher I have discussed this with thinks it is a terrible idea — some have even said they will quit the profession before they will carry a weapon around our children. I agree.
As my partner and I considered what to do if we have an active shooter, we realized that we would be at the mercy of a maniac. We can pray and throw ourselves in front of as many children as possible, but many likely will die despite our sacrifices. My dead partner and I will be called heroes. My dead students will have crosses and flowers. Prayer vigils will be held. News reporters will spread the news. Politicians will keep us in their thoughts and prayers. But none of us will breathe again.
Where are my family’s, my students’ and my rights?
And for each one of us who is taken, there will be more who will have lost a beloved family member or friend. Children will suffer from PTSD after watching their classmates get shot to pieces. There will be more victims than the ones on our televisions. The impacts will be lasting.
The one question I keep asking is, where are my family’s, my students’ and my rights? I understand that gun owners have the right to own a gun, but do we not have the right to life? Do my children and my students not have the right to go to school without being afraid of being killed by someone who is exerting his right to own a weapon that can kill a lot of people in a little bit of time?
As our elected officials think about and pray for the victims of gun violence, I hope they also will pray for discernment.
I hope that they will pray to have their eyes opened to what is happening to our students, teachers and families. Pray that they will have the courage and the strength to stand up and do the right thing. Pray that they will not allow the NRA to be their god, with its gifts of money if they comply or censure if they dare to challenge the organization. Pray that they will use the gift of leadership that they have been given to lead our nation in protecting its citizens. Pray that they will be the leaders who listen to the pleas of the parents from Sandy Hook and the students from Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School, and the many other victims of school shootings.
I will keep them in my thoughts and prayers.
Ms. Wood is a fourth-grade science and math teacher who lives in Columbia; contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.