Back-to-School Gun Violence Blues | Sojourners

Back-to-School Gun Violence Blues

The violence-tinged reality of sending children to school in America.
An illustration with a horizontally split background, the upper half in yellow and lower half in black. A yellow pistol is layered over the latter, and a black outline of a school is layered over the former, resting on top of the gun.
Nanzeeba Ibnat / iStock

AFTER A TEENAGER shot dead 19 children and two teachers in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, last year, I spent two weeks putting my children on the bus to school with a pit in my belly. Then the term ended, and I breathed relief. I would not have to live with this low-level dread for another year.

My family has been on sabbatical in South America for the past 12 months, homeschooling our three boys. Though we’ve faced other risks, the possibility of my kids being shot in school was not one of them. Not only were they not attending school, but the countries we visited also have stricter gun regulations than the United States.

In the U.S., the purchase of guns has soared — gun ownership is estimated to be more than 120 per 100 people, according to Gun-related deaths in the U.S. also top every other high-income country, at more than 12 per 100,000 people annually. Compare that to Ecuador, where we spent part of our sabbatical. In 2017, it had 2.7 guns per 100 people and approximately three gun-related deaths per 100,000 people. Our sabbatical year has been a window into what it’s like to parent school-aged children without the shadow of school shooting anxiety.

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