Zack Vayda and a Call to Action
Cara Loughran was a dancer at the Drake School of Irish Dance in South Florida.
Nicholas Dworet was a senior in college. He had been recruited for the University of Indianapolis' swim team and would have been an incoming freshmen in the fall.
Aaron Feis, a football coach, "died the way he lived - he put himself second." He was last seen running towards the sounds of gunshots.
Scott Beigel sacrificed his own life to save one of his students, Kelsey Friend. He was was shot and killed outside the classroom door as he pushed her back into the classroom.
Cara, Nicholas, Aaron, Scott and 13 others were shot and killed on Valentine's Day. This was the 18th school shooting of 2018. Today is day 46 of 2018, which means there has been a school shooting every three days on average since the year began.
Yesterday I spent a lot of the day listening to NPR's coverage of the shooting. I read articles online and heard testimonials from the survivors. I let my heart break, and break it did. And when I allowed my heart to break, this shooting became real. Those aren't just students or sons or daughters or teachers, Nicholas was someone's son, Cara was someone's daughter, Aaron was someone's teacher and husband and friend and father.
A shooting at a school is significantly worse than a shooting at any other place for two reasons. The first is that schools are supposed to be the safest place in the country. A school is meant to be a safe space, disconnected with the distractions of the real world, akin to a burrow for a litter of rabbits or an egg for a newborn bird. When the egg and the burrow are no longer safe, no place is. Secondly, schools house the future. This isn't an exaggeration or a metaphor; the future of this country and of this world is contained within the walls of schools. When a school shooting. happens, a literal piece of the future is ripped away from reality.
A single school shooting is the worst possible thing that could happen to a nation or community, and yet this is the 18th one this year? This is despicable. This is outrageous and unacceptable. We should be doing every last thing we can think of to prevent this from ever happening again. We should be putting every effort, every dollar and every sacrifice into fixing this problem. We should be researching how to recognize and address mental health issues, we should be putting more police officers and metal detectors in schools, we should be educating children to recognize potential problems and to report them immediately, and yes, we should be looking into gun regulations to keep weapons out of unsafe hands.
I understand why this is a tough issue. I recognize the right for individuals to bear arms, to protect themselves and their families. I recognize the importance of sticking to the laws set in place to maintain order and stability. Believe me, I get it. I've thought hard about this issue, and I've come up with two responses.
Everyone I've talked to is asking for gun restriction, not gun illegalization. If anyone was demanding all guns be made illegal, I cannot say I'd be on board with that. We're talking about making it tougher to earn a gun permit, setting regulations on the number of weapons or the amount of ammunition an individual can own, not taking guns away from people. With regulation, we can still own guns, we can still hunt and we can still protect our families.
My other response is significantly more important, and it revolves around sacrifice. America is built on this word. Without sacrifice, this country never would've been created in the first place. Without sacrifice, we wouldn't have survived the Civil War, either of the World Wars or any other war we've been in. America, summed up in one word, is sacrifice. I would sacrifice the clothes on my back, the roof over my head, even my life, if it meant a school shooting would never happen again. And the crazy thing is I am confident that every single American would say exactly the same thing. Every person I've ever met would make that sacrifice, because they're all Americans.
What would you sacrifice to prevent the death of students, children and the future? Would you sacrifice your money? Would you sacrifice your time? Would you sacrifice your own life? If so, then maybe we should consider sacrificing our rights, even our right to bear arms. I'm ready to have that discussion, because I'm ready to sacrifice.
Sacrifice is what made America, and sacrifice is what will make it great again.