Making sense of the senseless
Residents ponder how to stop further gun violence in schools
Everytown for Gun Safety, a non-political national grassroots efforts to stop gun violence, released a sobering statistic recently. According to its data, 74 school shootings have occurred since the December 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Thirty-nine of those tragedies, the group said, occurred in K-12 schools.
Protecting children in their classrooms is a hotly contested question raised in the wake of every school shooting. But when it happens in our own neighborhood, the answer and a solution become all the more urgent.
From the coffee shops to the conference rooms around town this week, conversation wasnt about the weather. Instead, folks were trying to make sense of something so senseless and cope with their emotions.
Barb Spaulding sat alone at a table in Cafe Delirium on Wednesday, reading her Bible and periodically dabbing her eyes with a napkin. The Fairview resident is the mother of two girls, one a junior at Reynolds High School. Her daughter was not on campus the morning of the shooting, she said, but knew what was happening after her friend had texted her from the school.
My daughter sent me a text, saying, Mom, I need you now, Spaulding said. I ran home and we prayed. I wrote a three-page prayer about everything that happened. I just think we are a nation thats gotten away from God. Theres so much violence in video games and movies, and its just so sad.
Spaulding and her daughter watched TV as details of the shooting unfolded and were devastated to learn a 14-year-old student had died. Spaulding said losing a child was beyond her comprehension, but she was relieved that early intervention by police officers prevented further carnage.
Your heart just breaks for Emilios family, she said. Im very thankful law enforcement and (PE/health teacher) Mr. Rispler were able to prevent this from becoming a mass shooting. Im still having a hard time not crying.
At Origins Coffee and Tea House in Gresham Town Fair, a group of retired Gresham residents were simply looking for an explanation for the number of school shootings.
Social media is a problem, I think, said Dan Loftin. (Tuesday), it proved to be a valuable tool for parents to get a hold of their kids, but everythings out there. You want to make a bomb, its there.
While some view the solution to gun violence as simply prohibiting weapons ownership, Loftins brother, Hayden, said it boils down to gun owners being responsible.
You cant get rid of all the guns thats just not going to happen, Hayden said. The answer is responsibility. People need to lock their guns up to make sure their kids cant get them.
Mary Hubbards heart went out to the students and families of Reynolds High School, but said people need to be more aware of those around them.
Im not saying every parent isnt in tune with their kids, but I dont think they know what their kids are doing sometimes, Hubbard said. There is a point where people need to be aware of the messages their kids are sending out. Theyre not doing well in school, their bedroom is all black. There are messages out there were not getting.
Sandy resident Andrea Hansen was enjoying a caramel apple with her preschool son and young daughter in Troutdale, questioning whether her son would ever grace the door of an elementary school.
Every shooting has changed my perspective, Hansen said. Do we put our kids in school? We talk about it all the time, but we dont know. We might home-school. But how many kids have to die before we do something about this? Is this what our world is coming to?
Hansen felt gun owners should be more vigilant about locking up their guns and wondered if the future of school security would include metal detectors.
Doug Daoust may be the mayor of Troutdale, but he is first and foremost a parent. He admits to being shell shocked over this weeks events at the school his two daughters attended, and said the bottom line is making sure no child is afraid to go to school.
Do we put metal detectors in a school with 3,000 students? Daoust asked. I dont know how you would do that. One thing we could do is make sure there are resource officers in the schools. They make the kids feel safe, and it makes me feel safe as a parent. I think theyre the answer. Without them on Tuesday, we would have had a lot more fatalities.