Yesterday morning, an unknown gunman entered a Portland high school and shot and killed one of the students. Reports say the unidentified shooter was later found, also deceased from a gunshot wound.
This latest incident happened a week after the school shooting at Seattle Pacific University.
In the last year there have been several such high-profile shootings, the one that I most remember was the shooting in December of 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newton, Connecticut where 26 people, 20 of them children, all lost their lives.
Incidents such as these have sparked a national debate about gun laws and gun control. It is a highly contentious argument, for obvious reasons.
On one side, you have those who advocate for more gun control, stricter gun laws.
On the other, you have people who tout their Second Amendment right to bear arms and say that guns don’t kill people, people kill people.
Honestly, I can see both sides of the argument and although I tend to share the latter viewpoint, it doesn’t mean that I am not open to an intellectual, respectful conversation about gun control.
I think that is one of the saddest, most twisted things about the gun control argument: it seems as if no one is capable of constructive dialogue.
On either side are the people speaking the loudest who tend to be disrespecting or devaluing the opinion of the people who oppose their viewpoints.
After incidents like yesterdays, Facebook blows up with posts like, “How many kids have to die before we take away guns, you idiots!” Or, “If the liberals would let teachers carry guns, that kid wouldn’t have died!”
I have yet to see or hear a debate on gun control or the right to bear arms that doesn’t sound like some sort of holier-than-thou pissing match between people who refuse to compromise their stance.
Don’t you think it’s time to have a respectful discussion about an issue that touches all of our lives? Shouldn’t we model for our children the mature, responsible way to open dialogue about issues that we are passionate about?
Isn’t it our responsibility to show our kids how you can be respectful of others, even while disagreeing with them?
In one story I read, a kid was quoted as saying he thought it was a joke at first – that no one believed a shooter was actually on campus.
When I read that I was a little taken aback. When did we allow ourselves to become so detached from stories like this that we think it can never happen to us? At our child’s school?
It’s as if our collective conscience acknowledges the tragedy and quickly moves on to the next sensational thing the media can dig up.
I know it’s tempting for the media to spin tragedies like yesterday’s into fuel for the debate on gun control, but what I don’t want to see happen, what I pray is different this time, is that yesterday’s school shooting will not become just more fodder to fill the stories of the pro-gun or anti-gun activists.
I hope that instead of just being thrown up as another reason for or against gun control, that people focus on the many lives that have been forever changed by the shooting: 14-year-old Emilio Hoffman who lost his life; the family and friends of that student; the high school students who attend Reynolds who will never walk through the doors of a school the same way again; the teachers who will never be the same.
One incident has changed the lives of thousands.
So I pray for the lives directly impacted yesterday.
I pray for the parents sending their kids off to school tomorrow and wondering if they’ll be safe.
I pray for the kids.
And I also pray for our nation – that we could come together, and model for our children what it means to have passion for your beliefs, but also respect and compassion for others.
That we can join together and rise above the pro or anti-gun debate that a school shooting ignites, and instead talk about human lives and the inherent value each of us has, regardless of where we stand on the issue.
rise above the pro or anti-gun debate that a school shooting ignites...