By Guest Blogger Misty Nichols
Being a mom has been the most joyful and terrifying experience of my life. When I was twelve weeks pregnant with my son, I remember asking the nurse: “Is everything ok? Now can I stop worrying?” I had carefully counted the days and weeks until the second trimester. Her sympathetic smile warmed my heart but also made me a little nervous. She responded with: “As long as you’re a mother you’ll never stop.” She was right.
There have been countless joy-filled moments, but also a few terrifying ones that came with the birth of my son and in the years that have followed. It’s an understood part of being a parent, but
never in my wildest nightmares did I think I’d be worrying about gun violence in schools.
I remember Columbine having such an impact on me. I couldn’t stop thinking about those who suffered, their families, the community, and those who committed the unimaginable. Why, just why? I didn’t have children yet and it seemed like an anomaly, something that couldn’t possibly happen again.
When the Sandy Hook tragedy happened in 2012, I looked at the innocent faces of those children and saw my own. And Charleston— people senselessly killed in their sacred place of
worship. A night club in Orlando. A concert in Las Vegas. And the teachers and students in Parkland— there are no words. How could this senseless horror happen in the land of the free?
On April 20th this year, on the 19-year mark of the Columbine massacre, I was sitting in a principal’s office discussing school safety, while the 20th school shooting in 2018 was happening in Ocala, Florida. Let that sink in. Our new normal is unfathomable.
Here are documented facts on gun safety and gun violence that involve children*:
• 95 people die every day from gun violence. Six of these people are 18 and under. This means in one year, a total of 34,668 people die from gun violence. Of these deaths, 2,277 are children 18 and under.
• 219 people are injured every day from gun violence. 34 of these people are 18 and under. This means in one year, a total of 79,976 people are injured due to gun violence. Of these gun injuries, 12,506 are children 18 and under.
• In 4 out of 5 school shootings, at least one other person had knowledge of the attacker’s plan but failed to report it.
• 70% of people who commit suicide tell someone their plans or give some other type of warning signs.
• Guns used in about 80% of all incidents at schools were taken from the home, a friend or a relative.
• Approximately half of all gun owners don’t lock up their guns in their homes,
including 40% of households with kids under age 18.
Many conversations surrounding this crisis go straight to the Second Amendment and throwing blame at others. It brings up discussions about legislation, rights, mental health, safety and the
gun lobby. It’s overwhelming, and the layers and complexities make it feel daunting.
Ultimately, I’ve come to realize that we have to get on the same side of this crisis that is killing our children and citizens. Individually, we have to decide what we can do to be a part of the solution.
We don’t even have to talk about the Second Amendment to have this part of the discussion. This is about awareness and it’s for everyone: people who are gun owners, people who are not gun owners, people with any political view, people in this community who want children and citizens to be safe.
Here are eight things we can do to gain and raise awareness, moving toward a safer community:
1. Participate in Wear Orange June 1-2. (Events are listed in the photo below.) Our Mayor, Allen Joines, has proclaimed June 1, 2018 Gun Violence Awareness Day in Winston-Salem. Attend an event and learn more.
2. Bring no-cost, non-partisan Know the Signs Programs through Sandy Hook Promise to your school, church, or community organization.
3. Start a SAVE (Students Against Violence Everywhere) Promise Club at your school, or incorporate programming into an existing club.
4. Talk to your teachers, school administrators, superintendent and school board about how to improve safety in schools through proactive training, mental health resources and School Resource Officers.
5. Before your children visit homes of friends or family, find out if guns in the home are secured properly. This conversation needs to be normalized and is easier than you think. Learn more from BeSMART and bring no-cost BeSMART training to a forum for adults in the community.
6. If you are a gun owner, learn more about securing your gun properly and get a free safety kit from our local police department. The local Moms Demand Action group also has a supply. Additional resources from Project Child Safe can be found here.
7. Understand current North Carolina gun laws and compare with those in other states.
8. Get involved and become an advocate for gun safety. This is an opportunity for those who own guns, and for those who don’t.
Sandy Hook Promise
Sandy Hook Promise Know the Signs Programs
Start a SAVE Promise Club
Moms Demand Action
Students Demand Action
Educators Demand Action
Participate in Wear Orange
Our children are 100% worth the discussion of rethinking gun safety and access. Learn more, get involved, and take advantage of no-cost resources & info available to our schools and communities. If one life can be saved through awareness and proactive education on gun safety, it will be worth the effort.
Here at Triad Moms on Main, we try to refrain from politics or current events in our blogs in order to keep our website as a resource and safe haven for moms of all beliefs. Today’s blog is solely about the ways you can protect your children no matter which side of gun control you may be on. We would love to hear your thoughts and comments, but please refrain from making this a political argument.