Not. One. More.
Our hearts bleed for the family of Emilio Hoffman. As of this writing, it seems that Hoffman, a freshman at Reynolds High School, did nothing more than walk in at the moment that a fellow student was preparing for mass murder. Emilio Hoffman was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
He was at school.
My heart bleeds for Emilio Hoffman’s family. It is likely they kissed their 14-year-old son goodbye that morning as he headed off to what should have been a normal day. They could not have known it would be the last time they would see him. They could not have known that the place where he should have been safe—a gym locker room—would be where he would meet a horrifying violent end.
Emilio Hoffman was a year younger than my daughters. Ida Rae or I drop them off at school every day. We kiss them goodbye.
Today, it is harder to let them out of our embrace.
According to news reports, there have been 74 school shootings since the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook. Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. That horrific incident, where 20 very young children and 6 adults were shot to death by a heavily armed former student, should have shocked our nation out of its compliancy. That moment was so terrifying that any civilized nation should have stood up and said, “No more.” It would have made changes to its gun laws. It would have made changes to the accessibility of mental health services. It would have created a mass movement of responsible adults who demanded change.
Instead, nothing has happened. And there have been 74 school shootings since.
One thing has changed. Schools have become more security conscious, with armed guards and ubiquitous lock down procedures. These procedures likely saved lives at Reynolds High School.
They also corrode the soul. Our schools—places of learning, of aspiration, of dreams young people should dream—are beginning to resemble prisons. Fear and suspicion are replacing the openness and beauty we want for our children. Expanding consciousness is being replaced with wary watchfulness.
This was not the promise we made to the next generation.
Emilio Hoffman walked into a locker room, where a fellow student was standing with a gun vest holding nine loaded magazines of ammunition holding hundreds of rounds, a camouflage helmet, and a loaded AR-15 rifle. He also had a semi-automatic handgun and a large knife. The AR-15 rifle he used to shoot Hoffman twice in the chest is the civilian version of the US military’s M16. The shooter was dressed for war. He ended his own life with that gun.
According to news reports, the shooter obtained his weapons from home. They were locked up. He got them anyway.
It is time to say, “Enough.” We don’t need military arsenals in our homes. We don’t need guns being sold without background checks. We don’t need gun shows as free-for-all exchanges designed to defeat the minimal legal limitations that exist on gun and ammunition sales. We don’t need weapons of mass killing.
We don’t need 31,000 gun deaths in our nation – every year.
We don’t need a culture of fear.
We don’t need any more dead children in our schools.
It is not enough to mourn with the family of Emilio Hoffman. It is not enough to mourn with the families of all the victims of all school shootings. For our children’s sake, for our society’s sake, for the soul of our nation and for our future, we must change now. We must force our politicians locally and nationally to pass sensible gun legislation. We must put mental health care on par with physical health care in its accessibility and acceptability.
We must make a common pledge:
Not. One. More.