By Kristin Wilson

I am a first grade teacher at a local elementary school and I am writing because I am disgusted by the normalizing of mass shootings.

It seems like every time I look at the news there is another shooting and we as a society say “that’s so sad.” We put our flags at half mast, we use social media to send our thoughts and prayers, and then we move on with our lives as if this is the new normal.

It has become so normal that schools have incorporated active shooter drills into our other routine drills such as fire and earthquake.

Now don’t get me wrong, I would much rather have this type of training and drill than not. Because of the training I have received by local law enforcement, I at least have a plan and feel somewhat prepared if it were to happen at my school.

I agree that we need to be prepared for different situations especially when you are responsible for young lives, but why are we accepting this as the new normal?

Every year I have to sit in a classroom with 20-plus, 6- and 7-year-olds and explain to them that if there is someone on campus with intent to harm, that we have to practice different ways to help keep us safe. We have to practice all of the options based on the many different scenarios that could happen.

All the while I have to reassure my students that we are safe and that we are just practicing this to help keep us safe. I have to explain to them that this drill is just like any other drill we do and that it is just to help us be prepared.

Again, normalizing the situation.

Every time there is a school shooting, I live out their horror in my mind. I imagine how those teachers felt trying to protect all of the precious lives they are responsible for. I think of those teachers and I grieve at how hard it must be to not be able to protect or save a life in that situation.

I think of all of the precious, innocent children in my own care, and I put myself in that horrible situation. I envision how it would feel to not be able to save one of your precious babies, and it sickens me to my core.

I grieve for those teachers and students and to avoid normalizing this tragedy as much as possible. But eventually I try to make myself feel better by saying “well it wouldn’t happen at my great school.”

Well, that’s what parents, teachers, and administrators thought before it happened at their school.

When are we going to stop normalizing mass shootings and realize that it is a big problem in this country?

I realize that we may have different ideas and opinions on what causes mass shootings, but I know that we can all agree that it is happening now at an alarming rate. It doesn’t have to be our “new normal.”

Instead of arguing over the cause, I ask that we put our great minds together to seek a solution. The statistics show that people don’t reach their “enough is enough” breaking point until the tragedy has affected their lives or lives of their loved ones. I ask that you don’t wait that long to reach your breaking point.

Enough is enough.

Kristin Wilson lives in Sonora.

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