Two side-by-side stories in Sunday’s New York Times show just how prevalent school shootings are.
One covered the shooting at Sante Fe High School, southeast of Houston. The other was all about students at a Mount Pleasant Community High School in Iowa doing math calculations on how likely it was that they would get shot if a shooter turned up in their school.
It seems that high school students no longer just worry about who they will be going to the prom with, or when they are getting their driver’s license.
Now they are calculating their chances of surviving an attack, going through active-shooter drills, lock-down drills – and wondering if their town is next.
At Santa Fe High, students survived by diligently doing exactly what the drills had taught them. They didn’t even open the doors to the closets where they were hiding when the police came in and identified themselves, because the students figured it was just the shooter trying to trick them.
But all the drills in the world could not help the two teachers and eight students dead and 13 other wounded. The on-campus police officers could not stop the shooter – a student – who walked through the hallway with his gun and a strap of shotgun shells slung around his chest
And when it is all over, the images you see are almost like those of a prison. The students comes out walking in single file, with their hands on their heads, or with their hands on the shoulders of those in front of them, or their hands in the air, because police need to make sure that they were not part of the shooting spree. Students have to dump their backpacks, emptying them. They are crying or staring off blankly, in shock that this kind of incident could happen at their school – at the school that they thought would be safe.
Locally, both Hays and Lehman high schools have had lockdowns, they have done the drills, as have other schools in Hays CISD.
It’s the norm now, that students and teachers go through the drills because they are aware that this could happen. Parents might complain about having to sign in at the office every single time they go to drop something off.
It is all too real that such an incident could happen locally. We all pray that it won’t.
Now is the time to start pushing our elected officials to take a firmer stand and find solutions to this growing issue, more than just offering “thoughts and prayers.”
But with the gun culture of the United States – especially in Texas – that we don’t need more background checks, we all have to begin doing our own calculations.
For those who have loved ones who attend or work within our school system, crafting those calculations is an all-too-familiar practice these days.
Could it happen here? And, if it does, will my child, friend, loved one survive?
It’s not a math problem that we want to be doing.