When Will It Happen Here?




It could happen at anytime in my classroom.


The thing we’ve all been dreading.


A hasty announcement of lock down. An unexpected fire alarm. The sounds of shouting, running feet and… gunshots.


The lights could go out. The door could burst in.


There’s really very little we could do.


My room has no windows. No closets. Nowhere to hide.


These are the thoughts going through my head as my students sit at their desks during homeroom this morning.


Jayden is taking off his hoodie before the principal catches him out of dress code.


Alaina is pestering me for a pass to the library.


Darnell is surreptitiously munching on a pixie stick stashed in his book bag.


It’s all so mundane, so subdued, so quiet.


A few kids are on the computers in the back, others at their desks reading books, writing papers, or listening to music on their iPads.


But there’s very little conversation.


The class of middle schoolers is restrained, thoughtful – which is unusual for children of 12 or 13.


I sit slumped at my desk – exhausted though I haven’t even taught my first class yet.


The news from last night still plays in my head.


Seventeen people killed by an expelled student at a high school in Parkland, Florida.


Or was it two killed in Kentucky?


How long was it since the last one?


And now here we are – back in the line of fire.


I can’t help but think about my daughter somewhere across town. She’s probably just entering her third grade classroom maybe munching on the remains of a candy heart from Valentine’s Day. Just like me and my students, she’s in the cross hairs.


But what can we do about it?


I can’t hold her out of school forever. I can’t quit my job and work from home. Even if I could, there’s absolutely nothing I can do for the twenty children quietly sitting at their desks in the room with me, abiding the rules of a society too broken to protect us.


After last night, it feels like things have changed somehow.


There have been 18 school shootings so far this year. And it’s only February. Most have resulted in zero injuries.


Of those where people were hurt, the person most in danger was the shooter. But I can’t stop thinking about those cases where a hunter came to school to kill children and teachers.


As an educator, I’ve been taught how to handle just about every situation.


If one of my children acts out, or doesn’t hand in her homework, or even throws up – I know what to do.


But none of my training has prepared me to out teach a semiautomatic weapon.


I can’t differentiate past a bullet.


There is no paperwork that will invalidate the gunpowder or slow the endless rounds through whatever they come into contact.


If someone comes to school with a gun and a will to kill, I will be little more than a target.


But don’t get me wrong.


This doesn’t mean society should gift me a handgun to keep in my desk next to the chalk.


I am not a law enforcement officer or an action hero. I’m a teacher.


You don’t want me returning fire at every mindless bureaucratic hitch in the schedule. You want me assigning essays and chapter readings. You don’t want me keeping a gun out of reach of curious youngsters always at my desk and in my personal space. You want me safeguarding student assignments and – heck – my cell phone that kids keep trying to snatch and look through my camera roll.


What we need is real gun control legislation.


We need an assault weapons ban.


We need to close the gun show loophole.


We need buyback programs to get the mountains of firearms off the streets and out of the arsenals of a handful of paranoid “survivalists”.


In short, we need lawmakers willing to make laws.


We need legislators who will represent the overwhelming majority of the public and take sensible action to protect the people of this country.


What we don’t need are the trolls who hijack every conversation arguing the semantics of the term “assault rifle” or “terrorist.”


We don’t need weak politicians cautioning against “politicizing” mass shootings because the violence is too fresh.


We don’t need anyone’s thoughts and prayers.


We need action.


And we need it yesterday.


Some people are calling on teachers to take action to force our lawmakers to finally do something.


They suggest a national teachers strike on May 1st – May Day – if Congress refuses to act.


That sounds like a good idea to me.


I’m game.


But we need more than that.


We need everyone who feels the same way to join in the fight.


Parents, children, grandparents, principals, police, firefighters, soldiers and nurses – the multitudinous faces of America must come together to fight this monstrosity as one.


I may sit in that classroom.


My students and my daughter may be in danger.


But America must be the shield.


America must rise up and protect our future.


WE must take charge.


Otherwise, it is not a case of can it happen here.


It is a case of when.

18 thoughts on “When Will It Happen Here?

  1. Sadly, Steven, it will keep happening over and over again until this country starts to get serious about meaningful gun control.


  2. Back in the 1990s when I was still teaching, the high school where I worked changed all the locks so the doors could not be permanently unlocked. A key would unlock it from the outside, and when the door closed, it was locked again. It was easy to open from the inside, but only with a key from the outside and all the door swung out into the hall, not into the room

    That way, when a door was closed, it was closed against the jamb and it could not be kicked in.

    There were windows but they were small and up near the ceiling, high off the ground and the walls were cinder blocks full of rebar and concrete. The doors were all steel clad and sold core.

    The school district also implemented a warning bell that told us to lock down and stay inside. If that bell went off, you didn’t open the door for anyone until the all clear was sounded and by then we could hear the police outside.

    This system worked and it was used a few times over the years — for instance, when a pipe bomb in an empty locker went off during lunch and blew the fingers off the curious student who saw it inside the open, empty locker and was curious. After that, the district put locks on all empty lockers so they wouldn’t stand open.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am both a teacher and a gun owner. I believe that the safety of our students is the most important priority we have as a nation. I have a child of my own that attends the local public school and I pray every day for her safe return. I do believe we need tougher gun laws but we must also protect the second amendment. The problem started when our society felt inclined to interpret the amendments however they felt it best suited their interests. That was not the intentions of our forefathers. When they said we have the right to protect ourselves our ignorant society interpreted that as I can shoot who ever I want, when I want. They have come up with their own gross interpretation of what they think the right to bear arms means. We also have additional problems complicating the situation. Many of these people that commit these crimes have had past criminal, mental, or psychological problems, and in many cases, people have made every effort to get them help with little success. This is the biggest loophole in our country that needs to be fixed. Finally, these people in most cases are not legal gun owners. Many times the steal or purchase illegal guns on the streets or on untraceable internet sites. The last issue I feel that needs to be addressed is the lack of responsible parenting today. Parents want to make excuses and blame everyone else to make sure their child is not held accountable for their actions. Just like you need a background check to own a gun, I think you should need a background check to have a child. We need more responsible parents raising respectful and caring children. Yes we need better gun laws but please make sure we don’t loose sight of the entire problem or it will never go away. God bless.


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