Turning Our Backs on Sandy Hook

This week I am taking a break from sharing my favorite things to share with you my thoughts on gun violence. I don’t even have enough words to put together to express my feelings over the tragic loss of lives in Orlando. It has taken me this long to find the words you are about to read. I have been a weeping mess of sadness trying to make sense of my own feelings about this. My heart is aching while my kids are at school and I am a hugging machine when they are home. I have no idea what I should be doing to make things different. Then I saw this:

 

Stacey Wehrman Feeley

June 15 at 8:10pm

“I took this picture because initially I thought it was funny. I was going to send it to my husband to show what our mischievous little three-year-old was up to. However, the moment she told me what she was doing I broke down. She was practicing for a lock-down drill at her preschool and what you should do if you are stuck in a bathroom. At that moment all innocence of what I thought my three-year-old possessed was gone.

Politicians – take a look. This is your child, your children, your grandchildren, your great grandchildren and future generations to come. They will live their lives and grow up in this world based on your decisions. They are barely 3 and they will hide in bathroom stalls standing on top of toilet seats. I do not know what will be harder for them? Trying to remain quiet for an extended amount of time or trying to keep their balance without letting a foot slip below the stall door?”

 ‪#‎dosomething ‪#‎prayfororlando ‪#‎wecandobetterMoms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America

Photo credit: Stacey Wherman Feely. Her daughter drilling active shooter drills at home.

This photo was taken by Stacey Wherman Feeley, mother of this beautiful 3-year old girl and it is going viral. As it should! This is what we need to see every single day- the conditions in which we are forcing our children to grow up in. What Can I DO to help? This is the question every single person living and breathing in America should be asking right now. Every teacher. Every parent. Every nurse, doctor and lawyer. WHAT CAN WE DO TO MAKE A CHANGE? HOW CAN WE KEEP OUR CHILDREN SAFE AT SCHOOL?

I may be the Whatever Mom learning to keep my cool and let things go, but this is something that gets me really hot under the collar. The gun issue sickens me. Instead of tightening up safety measures we are teaching our vulnerable children to:

Hide.

Live in fear.

To think about staying alive during the school day.

Parents are on pins and needles leaving their kids at school, at day camp and dropping them off at the mall just hoping today isn’t the day someone decides they have the right to use a military grade weapon to kill and maim innocent people- of which could be their child.

My heart has been in pieces since Sandy Hook just thinking and worrying about my kids. And your kids. For the last few years I have listened to my friends talk about the active shooter drills in their kids’ schools. Their kids are coming home with anxiety about going to school and getting killed.

In the picture above a 3-year old is poised on top of the toilet practicing her balance and keeping quiet. THIS IS HOW WE TEACH OUR CHILDREN TO BE SAFE? How can we expect a child not yet developmentally capable of sitting still and keeping their emotions under control to fend for their own lives like this? They aren’t going to stay quiet long enough for a gunman to think, “Well, no one in there” and walk away.

Teaching our children to behave like sitting ducks just waiting to be plucked is teaching them to tolerate and accept violence as just a part of everyday life. Doesn’t that sound broken to anyone else? Doesn’t that sound like we have failed our children in some way? “Gee kids we’d really like schools to be a safe place for you to go to every day, but it just doesn’t look like it’s happening any time soon. And to the kid being abused at home and already living in fear every day we sure wish we could give you a secure place to let down your guard and find some solace in your day. Unfortunately none of us can agree on what that looks like. So for now just hang tight in the bathroom stalls and try not to make any noticeable sounds with your wiggly bodies and your loud personalities. We’ll just hope for the best.”

I don’t know about you, but I am mad. I am mad at our flawed system. I am mad at people who think mass murder is a justifiable act. I am mad there isn’t enough help for folks living with mental illness. I am mad at the people pointing fingers and blaming. And I am mad at myself. Sandy Hook happened four years ago and I have done nothing to be a part of the change I want for my kids. There have been how many more shootings since then? Sure, I signed a few petitions online and completed a few acts of random kindness to celebrate the lives of the kids who were murdered. How long can we close our eyes on what we learned from Sandy Hook? Another senseless shooting happens and I’m suddenly awake to how broken our system is. But what have I DONE to make change happen for MY OWN CHILDREN? Nothing. Until now.

Now, with a fire in my belly, I am calling every single representative, tweeting and a sharing on Facebook. I am texting #DisarmHate and hash tagging #wecandobetter like my fingers are on fire and the keys are going to put them out. I am educating myself on ways to close the loopholes in our gun laws. I am answering every call to action. I can’t stop until something changes for the better. It isn’t enough to teach our 3-year old children to suck it up and deal with the way the world is today. There has to be more.

Let it begin with me and you. Share this post. Sign up to follow your senators who are fighting for change. Follow groups like Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and answer their calls to action. Please help me find a way to keep guns out of the hands of folks who just want to use them to hurt our children.

For more information on what you can do to combat gun violence in America read Senator Chris Murphy’s words here.

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia and The Novice Mommy.

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33 Comments on Closing our Eyes to Sandy Hook

  1. It’s definitely moving to see the reality of kids having to practice protecting themselves in their own school. My views on gun control are probably unpopular but I do believe in making changes and doing better. Whatever our political and social views I know that we are all moved by our children. Hate is very real. And we don’t want our children to be victim to it.

  2. I agree with you…I am scared every day for my teen to go to school. It seems like it can happen anywhere and I am not sure if change will ever come. Thank you for sharing this and encouraging others to share as well.

  3. I agree with Carolina, Hate is real but honestly the “bad guys” are still going to get their hands on a gun whatever means possible and they are going to do what they intend on doing. I’m all for Gun education and getting military grade weapons out of the hands of the public but as a woman and a mother you bet your bottom dollar I am going to get my PAL and learn how to protect myself and my babies.

    • I totally get that bad guys will always find a way. I just feel we shouldn’t make it so easy for them. And if we really want to protect our kids why not give them better than bathroom drills? We put locks on lesser things. Where ever we stand on guns and gun control I think we can agree our kids deserve better. ❤

  4. Oh my goodness, I literally gasped out loud when I read when the little girl was doing. I can’t even imagine. I have 6 young children, but they are homeschooled. It is so incredibly sad that this is the state our system is in, and that our precious kids are the victims. No child should ever have to be put in that position of practicing for what is going to be a common occurrance of violence in what is supposed to be a safe environment. It is just so heartbreaking.

  5. I have to say that I do not think making stricter gun laws will help. Bad guys will always get weapons.If people are going to kill, they will use whatever they have to do so whether it be poisons, slow cookers, knives, whatever.Most of these people obtain guys illegally anyhow. On another note, I do not think anyone needs assault riffles unless they are military.

    • I agree being prepared is a good thing. But, there has to be better ways to prepare our kids and staff than training them to be a victim. 🙁 Perhaps we should look at ways of keeping them out of our schools and not make it so easy to get in. Perhaps mandatory back ground checks for gun purchases would help reduce the body count or the amount of suicides. It took one reporter 7 minutes to purchase a military grade weapon. I think when we say things like, “it’s just going to happen no matter what we do” is accepting this as the new normal. I just can’t do that. 🙁

  6. Forgive me, this may get long. I want to give you another perspective as a now 40 year old woman who grew up around guns and who has guns in her house. Disclaimer: my father was military and former law enforcement – an arms expert. My husband is a former cop and former military – arms expert.

    I grew up in a home where guns weren’t for “killing”. They were a way to put food on the table and for protection. I grew up where there was an EXTREMELY healthy respect for guns and I wasn’t overly curious because my dad didn’t hide it from us. He educated us.

    My grandmother (paternal) lived to be 92. Had she not had her gun, she wouldn’t have been past her 60’s. After my grandfather died in 1991 two men broke into her home to rape and rob her. It was between them and her gun. The gun won. I give thanks for that, still. She has since passed, but she was allowed a full, long life – thanks to a gun.

    I am a gang rape survivor. I was a child when it happened (eleven). I live knowing that horrid, wretched violence and I can promise you that if someone broken into my home or tried to do that to me again I know thanks to guns I’d have a fighting chance.

    I know if someone tried to hurt my stepchildren I could protect them – thanks to guns. I know I have ninety pounds of meat in the freezer and won’t go hungry – because of guns.

    That written, both my husband and I feel there should be better laws and regulations. We feel that magazines with no greater than ten rounds of ammo should be banned from sales to civilians and we feel gun education should be mandatory. But because he is a former cop he is also well aware if criminals want guns, they’ll get them regardless of any laws we impose.

    We are not right learning conservatives (in fact we are independents who lean very left), but I just ask that you look at it in its entirety. It broke my heart, too, when my ten year old stepdaughter – then nine – told me they have lockdown drills at school for active shooters.

    And if it ever came down to someone trying to hurt your child, I could almost guarantee, without a second thought YOU’D pull the trigger to protect them.

    (When my husband was a cop, his colleague was shot by a ten year old child who broke into his dad’s gun case. TEN. In addition, I am a Florida native with a gay niece who did a Facebook video on the Orlando shootings. My very good friend checked in on “safe” as Facebook because he was Pulse that night. I broke down into tears on the ground in the middle of my event in Colorado because of it, so please know gun violence has touched our lives, too).

    • Thank you so much for sharing! Guns are a huge part of the tiny town where I grew up. My parents had guns and used to spend date nights target practicing. My family has a long line of hunters providing food for our family. All the guns I’ve been around have always been properly cared for and the users have been properly trained. Guns are so well respected that the entire 20 years I grew up in that town there wasn’t a single stranger on stranger crime. So I totally believe guns have a purpose and a place. I agree with you that what we have access to on the open market (non military/police) should be limited. I don’t believe anyone needs a military grade weapon in their home. I am certainly not asking anyone responsibly caring for and living with their guns to give them up. I just think it should be a lot more difficult for someone on the street with a history to get their hands on that powerful of a weapon.

  7. I saw that news in Australia and it definitely was food for thought. We don’t have this drill for kids here (not that I know of anyway!). Thanks for sharing your thoughts in this post.

  8. Before I’m a blogger, I’m a forensic scientist. The sad truth of the matter is that laws exists for law-abiding citizens. Those of us who will follow laws anyway follow them. The criminal population, well, they don’t care what the law is, they’ll find a way to get guns.

    Having seen the worst things humans can do to other humans, I fear for our children’s future in this country. We can never prepare for the unknown.

    • I completely understand that. But, there has to be a better option to secure our children at school than giving them drills to prepare to be a victim. We are essentially training them to be victims. We can never prepare for the unknown and we never know what the day is going to bring, but it just feels like if we accept this as the normal things will only get worse from here.

  9. This post is so heartbreaking. Our children will no longer grow up in a world of innocence. We thought after the world wars the children did not need to be raised in a world of fear but I guess we didn’t learn well enough. 😞

  10. I can’t imagine anyone reading this post and not feeling it deeply. I will never give up trying to make a difference but situations like this, too often, make me feel helpless to do anything to make a change.

  11. It’s hard to know the right way to make situations like Sandy Hook and Orlando never happen again. It definitely seems like better care for the mental ill and more gun control would be a great start.

    • I also thinking funding poured into our educational facilities for security could be a good start too. Why should we make the targets and victims deal with all the stress and struggle? 🙁

  12. Wow…a three year old. I have a three year old and can’t imagine her innocence being destroyed like this. It is horrifying and something has to be done.

  13. I am constantly worried for the children’s safety as well. My daughter is in high school and has had to go through many drills on what to do in case a shooter comes into the school. Many schools around us have been on lock down several times due to students carrying guns, and bomb threats.

  14. I think there is a lot of wisdom in doing drills with your kids in case of an active shooter situation but I also agree with you that we should take a stand against violence and let our voices be known about it!

  15. It is terrifying to know our children must practice saving himself during a shoot out. We live near Orlando and that was a horrible moment but what is worst was knowing after all the school shooting our town actually had a drill to prepare kids. It was terrifying.

  16. Two weeks ago I remember overhearing my co-worker talk to her daughter, who is studying in UCLA, and she was so worried and tense. There’s been a shooting in her school and her daughter, along with a few students, locked themselves in the bathroom. Goodness! Really can’t believe this dilemma facing us parents, now matter how old our children are! 🙁

  17. Thank you for writing this powerful post. I share your strong feelings and have also been contacting representatives, donating $, posting on FB and tweeting…I feel a constant need to be doing something, anything to address this issue.
    I don’t understand the argument that bad people will always find a way to get a gun. Even if one attack is prevented by banning assault weapons, isn’t that alone worth it?? Why have any laws at all if we think they won’t be obeyed?
    I respect the rights of responsible gun owners to own guns. I certainly understand wanting to have them to protect oneself and one’s family.
    I agree with limiting magazine capacity if semi automatic weapons can’t be outright banned.
    Mental health resources are pathetic in this country and need a major overall. We need programs in our schools and better treatment for all ages. We need to eliminate the stigma associated with all types of mental health conditions. Sandy Hook Promise is a wonderful organization working on gun violence on multiple fronts.
    This is not just about outside terrorists or Americans influenced by ISIS or Al Queda. This is also about homegrown white supremisists, prejudice and hatred against all minority groups, not to mention people murdering members of their family on a daily basis!! It is just insane the number of guns easily obtained in this country by people who have no business having them!
    And then the accidental shootings! I could go on and on and on. We have so much work to do and it will be a long fight but i refuse to just throw my hands up in the air!

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