This winter has been a time of awakening for me. I have a different understanding of what is normal. I understand that following the October 1 Las Vegas shooting, it is normal to have a feeling of unease at the mall, the theater, a concert or any other public place. Public places are not safe from gun violence. The gun lobby, led by the National Rifle Association, told us that 2nd amendment rights are more important than lives. And we believed them.

This winter has been a time of awakening for me.  I have a different understanding of what is normal.  I understand that following the October 1 Las Vegas shooting, it is normal to have a feeling of unease at the mall, the theater, a concert or any other public place.  Public places are not safe from gun violence.  The gun lobby, led by the National Rifle Association, told us that 2nd amendment rights are more important than lives.  And we believed them.
I understand that it is normal to wonder if there is danger from a disgruntled coworker.  Work places are not safe from gun violence.  The NRA told us that guns don’t kill people.  People kill people.  And we believed them.
I understand that it is normal to expect that I could be witness to a shooting.  On Sunday, Jan. 28, two members of U.S. Law Shield presented a First Aid for Gunshot Wounds Seminar at the Neosho Civic.  Given that mass shooters favor military style rifles, this training focused on “Tactical Combat Casualty Care protocol used by the US military” (Neosho Daily 1/30).  The NRA told us gun violence is inevitable, and it is each individual’s responsibility to deal with it.  And we believed them.
I understand that following the November 2017 church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, it is normal to lock our church doors during Sunday morning services.  Several area seminars on church safety have been packed with church leaders who know locked doors are not enough.  Headlines in the February 9, 2018 Neosho Daily read, “Churches Look at Protecting Members after Shootings”.  These training sessions covered such topics as church security guards and escape routes, as well as first aid and triage in case of a shooting.  And “When is it appropriate to use deadly force?”  The NRA told us the appropriate response to gun violence is thoughts and prayers.  And we believed them.
I understand that it is normal for me to worry about my children who are both instructors at a Missouri college and a university.  Colleges and universities are not safe.  I understand that it is normal for my daughter to sit at her kitchen table and cry in frustration because she has to send her children to school.  Schools are not safe.  The NRA told us that our only protection against a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. And we believed them.
Therefore, it is suggested that the best way to protect our children is to divert funds from books, equipment, sports programs and teachers.  Education dollars are better spent purchasing and training teachers on how to carry a loaded gun. It is suggested that teachers need to be trained to shoot people, often students, who attempt mass murder on their school campuses.  It is suggested that each community should provide funding for bulletproof glass, Kevlar vests and backpacks, ballistic shields, and security and surveillance systems.
The NRA told us the only way to be safe inside our homes was to purchase guns.  And we believed them.  Now we are not safe outside our homes. And once again the NRA says our only option is for more people to purchase more guns.  Will we continue to believe them?
The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School say, “No! Enough is enough!”  These students ask our elected leader to stop taking money from the NRA.  These students ask that we adults care enough to keep them safe.   These students ask that we join them in a movement to ban semi-automatic assault weapons like the AR 15 that allowed Nikolas Cruz to murder 17 of their classmates in six minutes.  These students are our future leaders.  And I believe in them!

Susanna Smith writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.