My son is a senior at Central Michigan University. And he is safe.
It’s more than ridiculous that I feel compelled to lead with that statement. The well-meaning instinct is to express some variation of “I’m glad he is safe” (and please do not think I don’t appreciate hearing that!), but the fact is none of us are safe anymore, are we. Not our children, no matter how young; not our families, no matter how successful or normal or ordinary or functional; not our coworkers, friends, or public figures admired or not admired.
At about 10:15 a.m., I was still browsing the Interwebs on my Friday day-off, like one does, when I ran across a news item that indicated a breaking situation with an active shooter on the campus of Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant. Spring break was about to start; son was to come home later in the day. I sent him a text: What is going on at Campbell Hall? He replied: idk, shots fired I guess with some dude still missing.
My kid is in off-campus housing, and had no classes today, so he was still at the apartment and, let’s face it, probably still in bed. Which may account for the rather casual response (well, and we are texting, so…).
I told him news was reporting two people were dead. He hadn’t heard that. And that the “dude” was armed and dangerous. He hadn’t heard THAT either.
Meanwhile, I am texting a friend whose kid is also at CMU and who lives in the same dorm complex where the incident happened. She needs some phone numbers, she can’t get her kid to respond. “He’s probably sleeping, but…” Yeah that “but.” It’s a little word that is always in the back of a mom’s mind (and dad’s too) even when there isn’t an active shooter situation going on in the vicinity of your kid.
The collective stress level increases dramatically from moderate to…not so moderate. To everyone’s relief, her kid is at my kid’s apartment.
Meanwhile, the entire campus is on lockdown, as well as much of the city. The suspect is still at large. News updates continue with descriptions of the shooter, who is 19. 19. He shot his parents. In his dorm. And three hours later, he is still on the run, presumably with his weapon.
No other casualties. Yet.
It’s the “yet” that is getting to me. My son is safe. So far. So are other students, staff and faculty on campus. So far.
So are your kids. So far.
But collectively, as a society, we are stupid. We are (apparently) very, very willing to sacrifice our children, singly or en mass, because various vocal groups tell us that a constitutional right crafted by men who could not even imagine, in their wildest nightmares, the technological advances in weaponry, among other changes – that this right enshrines as sacred, easy and open access to guns of all types, by all ages, regardless of training, ability, and mental health..
We look at a complex problem, and we are stupid. We believe it when we are told we have to solve all aspects of the gun problem in one attempt, and it can’t be done, so why try? We are happy to acquiesce to those in power who fill our airwaves with all the reasons even background checks and keeping weapons out of the hands of unstable individuals are somehow violating a constitutional right.
We watch our children die, and we are stupid.
My son is safe. So far. But we are stupid.
UPDATE: suspect has been found – apparently hopping on a train north of campus around midnight 3/2/18 – and arrested.