I grew up in a home without guns. Well, that’s not entirely true, there was a rusty old rifle sitting around our old farmhouse like a lot of houses in the country. It wasn’t exactly a weapon as much as it was sort of like spatula that had seemed like a good idea once but wasn’t really functional and throwing it away seemed like a waste of a perfectly good spatula. I think that it had been part of my Dad’s attempt to enter into country-gentlemandom but I never saw it fired and there was never ammunition in our home.
Monday morning I will give my first English lesson at 6:00 am to a learner in France. Like every first lesson after a mass shooting in the US, each lesson will consist of questions and comments about the US Gun culture and I, as the token American for all of those with whom I teach will be held accountable for an explanation. In July after the shooting at the Batman Premiere in Aurora, Colorado I was able to use those questions to build a lesson which allowed the learner to search for soulful answers and find the vocabulary from the recesses of their minds to express an answer. I asked questions like, “Do you think that violent movies and video games desensitize violence in modern culture?”
More recently after the shooting at the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin, I tried to turn the tables. I brought up the shootings committed by French-Algerian Mohammad Merah who killed three soldiers and then days later went to a Jewish school in Toulouse and opened fire killing four people, three of which were children. I made the point that although there is strict gun control in France, Merah managed to find guns and use them to kill innocent people. I reminded them that in Norway, a country with very strict gun policy, Anders Behring Breivik planned and carried out a mass killing, which ended in the deaths of 77 people, mostly teenagers.
This morning I am sitting at my computer at 6:00 a.m. looking out over the dark street wondering how I will respond in just 48 hours to the questions that will be asked of me regarding the shooting that took place in the Connecticut elementary school yesterday. I’ve tried to minimize my time in front of the television viewing the repeated shots of grieving parents brought to their knees by hearing that their child is dead or perhaps with the relief of learning that their child is alive. I watched one short video of our president wiping away his own tears as he addressed the atrocity of this act before the nation. I’ve skimmed over comments posted on social media made in attempt to reach out to others for comfort or to comfort and I’ve asked myself over and over the question that parents everywhere are asking themselves, “Next time could it be my child?”.
On Monday morning I believe that I will have to do what I hope all Americans will be doing. I will have to take a deep breath, look straight ahead and make the admission that we have a problem. It is time to stop hiding behind the second amendment laws created long before we entered into what is now obviously a very deeply, broken, societal problem. This is not only an issue for our government leaders to solve, whether we are gun owners or not we each have a part in this. We need to look at the incidence of violence worldwide and study what promotes it. We have to take a long hard look at our own lives and ask ourselves what we are doing or not doing to perpetuate the brokenness. We have to act quickly and efficiently to prevent this from happening again and again and again.