Photo credit: Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune
Yesterday, we were finishing a cleaning in Brooklyn Park when I got a text. I don’t get or send many texts ( I am in that age range where it just looks silly to text. You’ve seen the gray-haired folks punching out one letter at a time, trying to be grammatically correct and double checking spelling) so I stopped mopping the floor and looked at it. Of the dozen or so words in the text, I saw two; “Blaine” and “lockdown”. The text was from a neighbor who, like us, has kids at Blaine High School. We called her (because, really that takes us half the time that trying to text back would have) and found out that the school had been locked down since first hour.
We finished that cleaning and went on to our second. We even managed to text the kids and found out that both were fine. As the day unfolded we found out more information. Turns out a janitor found ammunition in a trash can in one of the portable classrooms the night before. Because school officials didn’t find out about this discovery until it was too late to cancel school, they opted to lockdown the school as soon as the kids arrived on Thursday morning. The kids were released around noon and school was cancelled for the rest of the day. Hopefully we will find out more in the coming days about the intent of the 15-year-old who is being questioned by police (and about how the bullets were traced back to him).
The whole incident got me to thinking. What has changed in this world of ours that kids bring guns to school and use them on adults and other kids? I know that didn’t happen, here, and thank God. But, what if? What if there was a gun somewhere else in the school? What if there was a plan? I just don’t understand it.
I know this sounds like an “old” person’s lament, but in my day we never had lockdowns. The occasional “duck and cover” drill, yes. Lockdowns, no. There was no need for them. I searched “school shootings statistics” and “school shootings history” and mostly came up with articles pointing either to the need for more gun control or the need for less gun control. One article I found was on Wikipedia. My eyes kind of glazed over the info in the article, but there is a listing of school shootings in the U.S., Canada, Europe and South America, Asia and Australia. I am not going to go into the whole thing about how we have more than most of these other countries combined. I found the rise here in the United States to be shocking, though.
The time line starts with the infamous University of Texas sniper attack in 1966. There was one other school shooting in the 60’s. There were five in the 70’s, including the Kent State shooting by Ohio National Guard soldiers. In the 1980’s there were seven school shootings. And then, something happened. From 1990 until 1999 the number of shootings in schools went from seven the previous decade, to 26. And in the new millenium it got even worse. From 2000 until 2009 there were 40. Fourty incidents of children or adults bringing guns to school and shooting other kids and adults.
I don’t have any answers and I’m not going to get on my soapbox and rant either for or against gun control. I just want to know what happened. What changed in this country that lead to parents having to worry about sending their kids to school? What epochal event diverted our attention from worrying about grades to worrying about bullets being found in a bathroom trash can? Can someone tell me that? Can someone explain this to me? Because I would like to know. I want to know and I want to change it.