Guns forced me to flee home as a teenager. And now, this former refugee's American-born children are being trained to respond to an active shooter scenario in their elementary school. Each classroom needs a "lock in" kit (food, water, makeshift toilet) in case they cannot get out. My twins' first drill was two years ago. At 5 years old, my daughter was put in the classroom closet with the other Kindergarten students, and could not stop crying. Now, it's "normal" to them. It is not normal to me -- and never will be.
Gun violence is a solvable tragedy. Comparing the US to other countries makes it clear that common sense gun legislation saves lives. We should start by mandating gun education as a prerequisite to purchasing a firearm, requiring meaningful universal background checks, and limiting what types of guns are available. Ideally, we would implement a national license, registration, and gun-owner insurance system equivalent to how we treat cars.
Tragically, the influence of money has made implementing improvements to our gun laws near impossible. Because these changes would require a national effort across all states to ensure people cannot skirt new state laws, we must also take immediate action to protect our children and make our schools safer.
As districts go out for bonds, school improvements should include locked doors, double zoned entryways, installing safe rooms (which could also be used in the event of earthquakes or natural disasters), cameras and outdoor security fences, bulletproof glass, alarm systems, and other ways to keep our children safe. The state can expedite this process by making funds available to strengthen physical safety around and inside schools.