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Why I’m Walking Out With My Second Grader During the National School Walkout

An open letter to my congresspeople and school administrators regarding my child's absence in the absence of reasonable gun policies.

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On March 14th, I will wake beside my second grader as I normally do. We will eat breakfast and send him to school. But at 10 a.m., I will be removing him from class and holding him close for 17 precious minutes. I will do this because there are parents of 20 children in Newton, Connecticut who can’t hold their sons and daughters and because there are 17 more in Parkland, Florida who are forever lost to their loved one’s arms. I will hold him because our leaders have failed to make common-sense laws that assure me when my boy leaves my arms for school, his body won’t be placed in the sights of an AR-15 wielded by a madman.

If he were older, I would encourage him to use his voice and his autonomy to walk out of class himself. I’d ask him to stand up for his safety like his brave peers across the U.S. who inspire me to keep pushing for gun reform despite frustration, emotional exhaustion, and the political reticence of my representatives. But today he’s only 7 years old. So I see it as my duty to help him fight because he cannot.

The fact is that kids in elementary school need their parents to fight. They need a voice. Because even the youngest aren’t safe from mass shootings.

The fact is that kids in elementary school need their parents to fight. They need a voice. Because even the youngest aren’t safe from mass shootings. Sandy Hook proved that. And the understanding they are not safe is reinforced every time my son comes home after a “safety drill” in which he is locked down so bad people can’t hurt him.

The last time there was a safety drill (just weeks ago) my son told me his teacher had explained to the class that she is “like their mom at school and would never let anything bad happen to them.” As honorable as that statement is, there are several dead heroes in Florida, brave teachers, who couldn’t stop something bad from happening to their students.

And the situation probably wouldn’t have been much different if they’d been armed — the new “solution” championed by the NRA and President Trump. Sure, it’s a great way to sell more guns. But I don’t want my kid to be in a classroom where his second-grade teacher is strapped. That is insanity. More guns mean more chances for my kid to be shot. Not less. In case of “bad people” spitting fire from an AR, an armed teacher only puts more bullets in the air that could possibly hit my boy.

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No. To truly help make my kid’s life a little bit safer, I need to send a message by removing him from class. I need to shine a light on the fact that I know he isn’t safe. To truly help him, I need my legislators, federal representatives, and school administrators to understand I expect reasonable action on guns leading to reasonable laws. I need them to understand that I will cast my vote to protect my kid from those who’d prefer to protect the status quo.

All I want is for those in power to be as concerned about AR-15s as the school superintendent is about a peanut butter sandwich in the lunchroom — which is to say: extremely concerned.

All I want is for those in power to be as concerned about AR-15s as the school superintendent is about a peanut butter sandwich in the lunchroom — which is to say: extremely concerned. I’d even be as bold as to suggest an AR is more dangerous than a peanut butter sandwich. The body’s reaction to bullets isn’t easily managed by a shot of epinephrine.

And in case anyone is worried that my kid will be missing out on education, rest assured we’ll be using our protest as a civics lesson. When he gets tired of my hug (which he will) we’ll talk about why he isn’t in school. I’ll tell him about how our founding fathers ensured that we have a right to petition our government for the redress of grievances. We’ll talk about what the term “well-regulated militia” means. We’ll talk about what he thinks an unalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness might mean. We might even wonder whether a man’s right to own a weapon of war trumps another’s right to live.

He’s a smart kid. I can’t wait to hear his thoughts.

And when Wednesday night comes I will tuck him in. Then I’ll go to my own room and say a prayer of thanks that he is safe, and give a prayer of comfort for all those parents who’ve lost their boys and girls to gun violence. On Thursday I will wake up and call my reps. Again.