Maybe this time, just maybe
by Tim Hult
After yet another devastating school shooting tragedy, this time in Parkland, Florida, a grieving nation is once again contemplating the issue of gun violence and what we might do to reduce its terrible toll across our country. Personally, I have thought about a number of things over the last few weeks.
An experience at the Carlisle School just after the latest renovation had been completed came to mind. At the time I was Chairman of the Selectmen and was visiting the school as part of a program to read to the children. I had stopped inside to consider how to get to the room I needed to find when a young, probably new, teacher came up to me, asked me who I was and why I was there. He indicated that everyone must check in to the office and register, and he would take me there. I was so happy that the protocols that had been talked about so often were now ingrained with the staff.
I recalled my experience serving on the Building Committees for both the Carlisle School and the High School. Our group spent considerable time tediously reviewing the design, flow, access and systems of the new buildings with regard to student safety. I recalled learning that the old high school had 57 outside-accessible doors. The new schools have only a handful and all are carefully monitored.
I remembered the Selectmen’s final interview with Chief Fisher. I was impressed with his personal commitment to the safety of the children and school, an extremely high priority for him. Given the size of the community, Carlisle is extremely fortunate to have attracted a leader with such outstanding capability and experience. There is no doubt our police will be well trained and led should we experience any issues.
I recalled innumerable financial discussions regarding the persistent and significant increases in funds devoted to special education. I learned that over time one of the major drivers was a substantial increase in services related to students’ emotional and psychological problems. I came to understand that this is money well spent on respectful, effective early interventions.
Having thought about all these issues, however, I am still struck with the dread that we as a society have not really dealt with the core issues that have led to the public health epidemic of gun violence in our country. As a result I believe our schools and children are still unfortunately in danger.
We have four grandkids in New York City and consequently travel there on a regular basis. Each time on our drive we pass the highway exit for Sandy Hook. Each and every time I see that name a chill comes over me. We have essentially done almost nothing since the most horrific tragedy that any of us can imagine.
The courageous and articulate high school kids from Parkland, Florida have, however, given me a measure of hope. I hope that young people across the nation will take up their cause and, joined by supportive adults, force a thoughtful and persistent dialogue about the reasonable steps we can take to reduce the proliferation and availability of extremely dangerous weapons. We must ensure they do not get into the hands of inappropriate people. I hope that all our legislators actually listen with open minds and actually do something. I hope corporate leaders become involved and respond with financial pressure. And I really hope that we do not let the current concern and focus simply fade in the wake of the next news cycle. This is just too important.
It is time to act,—and maybe this time, just maybe, we will. We are all responsible.