First Person: A school shooting is a family matter for me

By John Parks:

The Parkland school shooting hit me hard, as teaching runs deep in my family. My mother was a teacher as are two of my children, one a principal. And I have 7 school-age grandchildren. When a shooting happens in a school, it immediately becomes personal. That could be one of mine.

I am infuriated at hearing  Wayne LaPierre, NRA CEO, say that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. It is simply not true, and it is a dishonor to innocent shooting victims.

Consider the case of the Parkland, FL, massacre of 17 students and teachers in February: Scot Peterson, the “School Resource Officer” (and Sheriff’s Deputy) on guard at the school when the killer entered, was a “good guy” who was well trained, had years of experience, had a gun (with extra ammunition), and had the job to protect the students.  He hurried to the west side of Building 12, where most of the killing happened.  He then took up a position outside the door and stayed right there for four minutes while the shooting continued. (Editor’s note: Andrew Pollack, father of a Parkland victim, recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Peterson and others connected to the shooting, including the gunman)

We now know the only thing this “good guy with a gun” did when the time came for action was keep himself safe, apparently by cowering outside the building and hoping the shooting would stop.  Stopping the bad guy killing with a gun seemed to be the farthest thing from his mind.  The dead, their families, and friends all wish the “good guy”  had at least tried to stop the bad guy.

We do not allow anyone, especially bad guys, to purchase fully automatic guns.  Why draw the line there?  There are now so many bad guys out there who are able to easily get and use semi-automatic assault rifles that he time has come to also stop selling these weapons designed for mass killing.

As a retired Federal employee I was never politically active until Donald Trump was elected president. But I believe that now the time has come for America to act. Perhaps begin a buy-in program like the one that solved Australia’s assault weapon problem.  Let’s help get something good started.

I suggest that we start by sending letters to legislators who represent swing districts.  Also, let’s join or donate to the Sandy Hook Promise organization.

Schools tie deeply into the lives of all of us. We need to keep them safe, as we would our own families, not with senseless proliferation of guns but with common-sense gun legislation.



John Parks is a member of Braddock District Democratic Committee and retired in 2014 from the General Services Administration, where he worked in leasing and planning for Government real estate projects.