By Brett F.
The massacre of twenty students and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14th of last year is a tragedy of immeasurable proportions. The events on that day were heartbreaking, incomprehensible, and difficult to even watch on news updates throughout the day. There are few tragedies that are as devastating as those which involve the loss of innocent children. The Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre shook the nation and ignited a national conversation about school safety and gun control in general. Unfortunately, these two topics (school safety and gun control) have absolutely nothing to do with one another . . .
In fact it is very dangerous to pair the two as it ties emotions to the gun control debate rather than logic and cold hard facts. As humans, we want tangible solutions to problems especially in the aftermath of tragedy. It is a beautiful quality of humanity. It is so important, though, to not let emotion or ulterior political/personal motives trump intellect when searching for those solutions. Always keep “I” over “E” or intellect over emotion.
Let me introduce myself. My name is Brett and I was born and raised in Connecticut for the first 19 years of my life. I then moved to Florida where I finished my schooling to become an elementary school teacher. I have now taught at the same elementary school in Palm Beach County for the last nine years. In those nine years I have taught first, second, and fifth grade. I absolutely love my job and my students and, though both come with challenges, they also bring me a lot of happiness. Every day is different and new. I feel fulfilled and there is nothing I would rather be doing as a career.
In addition to my love for teaching, I have a love and passion for guns. I have owned and shot a number of different handguns, rifles, and shotguns. I own two of the guns used in the Newtown shooting including a black sporting rifle in the AR15 configuration with standard capacity 30 round magazines that were made for that particular weapon. In addition to enjoying my guns for sporting purposes, I also depend on them for my personal protection and that includes the AR15. For Adam Lanza, these same guns were used for evil. For me, they are used for enjoyment and the protection of me and the ones I love. My guns are metal and plastic. Inanimate objects. Neither evil or good.
Gun control advocates and gun grabbing politicians frequently paint all gun owners and supporters of an unchangeable 2nd Amendment in the same light. It is one of the tactics used and supported by the mainstream media. If all gun owners are viewed as paranoid, backwoods, irresponsible, uneducated people, then it works to their advantage. Unfortunately, for them, this is not the case.
We are a very educated lot. Gun control advocates and the mainstream media do their best to keep people like myself out of the debate. They do not want voices like mine heard. I am an educated and dedicated elementary school teacher. I love the students I teach. I also am passionate about guns and the 2nd Amendment which protects my right to own them. The 2nd Amendment and the Constitution as a whole is not a changing, growing document with time or events. It is the foundation of a free country. It remains through triumph or tragedy.
As an elementary school teacher, former Connecticut resident and student, and passionate gun owner I certainly have reflected deeply on the heartbreaking events of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. How could someone be so devoid of emotion? What could have prevented this tragedy? Is there anything that we could do at my school to better protect our students from violence?
Some of my questions were from a teacher’s point of view and some were questions that most people have asked including parents, children, law enforcement officers, and politicians. At my school we have procedures in place when there is a threat on or near campus. We lock our classroom doors, turn off the lights, close the blinds, and cover the glass on the door with a curtain or paper.
Like Sandy Hook Elementary, my school has a front office entrance which remains locked and there is a call box and a camera. Anyone who wants to enter the front entrance of the school must be buzzed in by a secretary. There are cameras in multiple places around campus and those cameras are being monitored in the front office. We have a phone that immediately calls the police in the event of an emergency. All in all, I feel very safe at my school and feel we have done the best we can to protect our students.
With that being said, is there always a chance that tragedy could strike? Absolutely. We are not educating our students in a locked down prison facility that is impenetrable. We have an eight foot high fence going around our campus perimeter but, if someone wanted to get in, they could climb over. We may have a camera and call box at the front door but the glass is not bulletproof just as it wasn’t at Sandy Hook. It would be nice to have an officer on duty everyday but the district budget could never afford that and even a full time officer wouldn’t guarantee tragedy couldn’t strike.
So what then is the all encompassing answer? The truth is, there is none. As educators and parents we must do our best to protect our children and give them a safe environment to learn and grow up, but we never will be able to predict and prevent everything that could arise. Irrational and emotional gun control measures would not have prevented the tragedy in Newtown and they will not prevent future tragedy. An educated, fact-based, honest look will show that school safety and national gun control are two issues that have little if anything to do with each other.
Regardless of the venue or those effected, evil will occur. At times we will be able to prevent it and at other times we honestly will not. In Keystones of Thought, Austin O’Malley said, “The hardest fact in the world to accept is the inevitable mixture of evil with good in all things.”
My heart goes out to all the teachers, children, and families who were devastated by the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December. As a teacher, I love and protect the students under my care. As a gun owner, and more importantly an American, I love the freedoms I have had my entire life because of the Constitution of the United States. The removal of those freedoms, under the guise of an altruistic motive to protect children, is not only a lie but a grave danger to the free country those children will inherit.
I am a teacher. I am a gun owner. I support school safety and the right to keep and bear arms! Two VERY different issues!