It’s easy to sit back and comment on situations when you’re not a part of them. That holds true for any situation.
But what happens when terror comes to your own backyard? Unfortunately, I found out over the weekend.
Every woman is multi-faceted and I’m no exception. I’m not just a mother, I am also a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, an advocate for concealed carry, local champion of hunters and gun safety, and I promote programs like FASTER Saves Lives in our public and private schools. After the school shooting in Florida last week, I was very outspoken and candidly shared my reaction to the senseless (and extremely preventable) loss of innocent lives.
Admittedly, living in northern rural Wisconsin, my children and family are removed from the majority of problems that plague bigger cities and urban areas so you can imagine my shock when my husband an I received a warning yesterday afternoon of a potential situation in our school district.
In a message from the school superintendent, we were made aware of a threat to our district that had been made on social media. Although law enforcement was notified and determined the threat was not credible, the board agreed to send additional resources to each campus to ensure our children’s safety. I can’t tell you the flood of emotion that washed over me as I listened to this message. Feelings of anxiety, fear, agitation, but mostly anger rose up inside me as I thought about sending my children into this situation.
Why anger? Because I’ve been rallying our schools for years to prepare for such an event. Because as an outspoken parent, I’ve advocated for our teachers to be armed, for parents who are licensed concealed carry permit holders to be able to carry on campus, for gun safety to be taught in our schools again, and worked hard to erase the stigma on gun owners perpetuated by the media. And especially because the time to prepare is never after a threat is made.
My concerns, suggestions, and cries largely fall on deaf ears, but I’ll never stop pushing.
Although my request to be granted permission to carry on school grounds was yet again denied, our school resource officers will be carrying in the schools to protect our children and although they have practiced school shooting drills complete with hard lockdowns and the classroom doors are equipped with locks (most on the door handle, but some bearing deadbolts), there was nothing else for us as parents to do in that moment.
Refusing to submit to fear, I chose to send the Jacques kids to school this morning. We had breakfast together, prayed for strength and protection, and hopped in the van for the short drive down to the school.
As we turned the corner, we saw an ambulance parked in a lot adjacent to the high school and watched as police officers drive up and down the main road that connects all the schools in our district. This did little to calm my fear, but I soldiered on, saying, “Deuteronomy 31:6 reminds us to: Be strong and brave. Don’t be afraid of them and don’t be frightened, because the Lord your God will go with you. He will not leave you or forget you.”
We joked about how I pray a bubble of protection around them and fill it with white light, but they have to remember not to fart in it. I have to admit, I teared up when I watched the tiny little piece of my heart walking away from me into a building I could do nothing to secure. I sit here now having to remind myself that this day has already been written in His book and I need to trust that I have done all I can to safeguard myself, my children and the situations in my control against evil.
But I’m angry. Angry that only one narrative is being blasted out of Florida in the wake of such a tragedy. Angry that my pleas are so flippantly dismissed. Angry that life-saving measures aren’t being shared freely with our school faculty and administration. Angry that our schools aren’t being protected at the same level as our courthouses and other government buildings. And angry that my right to carry is being restricted when all I want to do is protect innocent lives – even if that costs me my own.
As parents, we need to do a better job of showing up at school board meetings, speaking with other parents and advocating for our children’s safety. I’ve spent the morning on the phone with the police department, the school, my local representative and members of the school board. I’ll be the first to admit how much of a PITA dealing with these things is, but it’s a necessary evil. I won’t let the will of a few overshadow the needs of many.
So as we move past this threat, let it serves as a catalyst to becoming more involved in our schools and determining an effective plan to keep our children safe. This incident didn’t deter me or alter my resolve – it only served to strengthen them.
Protect our children at all costs. Is that too much to ask?
About the Author: Jenn Jacques is an outspoken Second Amendment defender, concealed carry advocate, champion of gun safety, a Visiting Fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum, and an outdoorswoman who enjoys hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, and drinking outdoors in her beloved home state of Wisconsin.