Viewpoint: ‘Gun laws need to change — I love you’

Clare Foster

I have received multiple texts and messages asking me why I was not at some shows this weekend, is everything OK? Are you OK? It’s not like you to miss and photograph said shows. Well my answer, after some deep introspection over the last several days, some going way down deep beneath where I live, some soul patching and searching, goes something like this:

Music and nature are my medicine. Coyote, where are you?

Gun laws need to change. I love you.

This latest shooting at a school in Florida has put me in a tail spin, a funk. This latest shooting of all of those beautiful children and adults has caused my words to stop flowing, my words to become jumbled, until now.

Gun laws need to change. I love you.

It is said that this individual — who took a gun and the lives and the love of so many — was an outcast, felt like he never fit in, was on antidepressants, a Trump supporter, a gun-toting individual, a mentally deranged human being. And as all of this may be true, so what? We all know that the gun laws need to change and without going into the logistics, the name calling, the politics, I will share with you, me. I will share what goes through my head every single day after greeting the day on the shore of this place that I call home. I will share with you my rawness.

Gun laws need to change. I love you.

I work with moderate to severe special needs students. I work in a school where the diversity of students, their learning abilities and disabilities, their backgrounds, their home lives, their cultural barriers, their cultural longings, is large, where the dedication of all of the staff is without measure. I work in a school where I would never have imagined that I would ever think, when, not if, but when will this happen at our school, in our community.

Gun laws need to change. I love you.

I walk into school, my title is Support Staff, or Aide, and Para Professional. I walk into school every day with the willingness and love and support not just for our special needs students but for every single student. I connect with them. Sometimes it takes a while, other times it is instant. I let them know that their individuality is beautiful. I let them know that they are loved.

Gun laws need to change. I love you.

When it did it become the norm, or OK, to think that I or any other faculty member or staff member of any school should be responsible for not only the love and guidance and teaching of academia, not only the making sure students are showing up in classes, to not only hide and secure the room, but to try and take out an active shooter? We were recently trained in the ALICE program, and without going into detail, I will just say that it is the new normal, a completely different training than in the past. The new normal, I do not support the new normal. Though I would and will do every in my power to keep these students safe, going after a shooter if the “situation was right’,” I’m not feeling really comfortable with that. I am not trained for combat, and though I am sure my fight or flight reflexes would kick in, though am I sure, am I? Am I sure? It wasn’t necessarily ‘said’ in this training, that we should take the shooter out, but if we had the chance, we can distract said shooter, we can throw things at said shooter. During this training I felt uneasy, something inside was screaming, screaming and crying, saying this isn’t right, this can’t be right.

Gun laws need to change. I love you.

I walk into the school and wonder when, not if, but when, and though some might say that is a paranoid thought, I will disagree — it is the new normal, and it twists me up. “I love you,” I say to one of our special needs students as she makes her way to class by herself, as she covers her ears because she cannot handle loud noises. I wonder how I could possibly break and then jump out of a window on the second floor of our school, with her in tow. Should I go out and purchase 100 door stoppers, should I make sure that those doors left ajar are locked?

Gun laws need to change. I love you.

I sat in a class the other day and several students were talking about guns, about the shooting in Florida, and I sat and listened, and I went over to the boys and told them that if they needed to talk about this, about any of it, that they should, maybe not in class as there was a lesson being taught, but they should talk about it. One of the boys asked me if I would I jump out of a window to save myself and others if there was a shooter in the room, would I do it, would I jump? I held back tears, and said, I love you, I will do everything in my power to protect you should that ever occur here in our school. Let’s not talk about this, let’s not have a moment of silence. Why? Shouldn’t we be talking about this in our schools, shouldn’t we, shouldn’t’ we be talking about this. In a world out of balance, in a country where the new normal is completely unacceptable, I stand and watch a baby bird get blown around by the wind, his mother guiding him back to the nest, I hear them chirping, the wind is howling, there is a storm coming.

I will protect you, I will keep you safe.

Gun laws need to change. I love you.

– Clare Foster

Clare Foster

About Clare Foster

Clare Foster finds some sort of balance in the place she has called home for 27 years, the North and West shores of Lake Tahoe. If she isn't out listening to and photographing live music, she is either down by the lake or wandering in the woods taking photos or, working on a new book. Check out Clare's website.

2 comments

  1. With all the focus on gun laws, I think we are missing out on what would make the most difference and that is school security. We protect our banks, courts, sporting events, amusement parks, airports, government buildings and so many other places but we do nothing for our schools! My concerns is that I don’t even hear it being discussed.

    • I am not saying that increasing school security is not an option, nor was I saying that we should not discuss this. We should discuss it, we should also make it more difficult to purchase guns, more restrictions on said guns. Our schools should be safe, these children are our future.I can not agree with you more, arming teachers however, is in my opinion, a very bad idea. You mention security and protecting our banks and courts, we do yes, but we do not see the judge packing a pistol or the bank tellers having weapons. More security at school does not mean arming the teachers.

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