In 1957, during the height of the Cold War between the then Soviet Union (now Russia) and the United States, my first grade class regularly staged air raid drills. The alarm would sound and we dutifully sheltered under our desks, covering our heads to protect from flying debris. A few years later, perhaps because of the Cuban Missile Crisis, it appeared that diplomatic engagement became more prolific than the Arms Race (building the nuclear weapons arsenal). Relations between the super powers have fluctuated over decades, but we haven’t needed air raid drills.
Another societal danger is now ever-present: the mass shooter. Quite recently, Michigan State University and Nashville’s Covenant Elementary School were victims to irrational, insane, gun violence. The aftermath – more fatalities, more thoughts and prayers, more calling for stricter gun laws, more demands to harden targets, more pleas for mental health support, more requests for police in schools, and a host of ancillary “solutions.” It seems these tragedies take place, run their news cycle, and fade to the recesses of our memory – until the next one.
Only a mentally ill person invades a school/mall/grocery store/parade route to assassinate innocent people. Sane, rational people don’t commit these atrocities. As a nation, our 332 million citizens own 400 million guns; 20,000,000 of which are defined as assault weapons.
Monday, March 27th, thousands of schools dismissed around 3:00. Students boarded their buses, teachers marked papers, custodians swept hallways, and principals tried to clear their desks. In Nashville, three children didn’t get home, one custodian didn’t sweep the hall, one substitute teacher didn’t submit student work, and a principal’s desk was left unattended.
We are a nation of very smart people. When do we make this crisis our priority? No school should ever again hear the echo of a gun. No school student should experience emergency drill training. Memorial services should never again be necessary for children and the staff teaching and protecting them.
If I had an answer, or even a proposal, I would announce it immediately. There is no single solution to this crisis, and it is a crisis. Think about how often this is the evening news headline, whether it be a school, a mall, a grocery store, a parade route, etc. Collectively, with preventing gun violence as our focus, we can find a solution to this agonizing crisis.
As a college president, I have the good fortune of fielding ideas and getting them in front of the people who can react. If you have an idea, if you have any proposal, please send it to me at email@example.com and I promise to review and get into the right hands. This is something we should have solved decades ago. Let’s work on it today.