Our hearts are with everyone who experienced The Covenant School shooting on Monday, March 27. Nothing will bring those children and educators back, but we can channel our grief and rage into action so gun violence stops being a “normal” part of school life.
Before we dive into actions, we encourage everyone to prioritize your mental health & remember, in the face of tragedy, you are never alone. If you or any loved ones need support, here are some resources to get you started:
- Child Mind Institute: Helping Children Cope After a Traumatic Event: http://bit.ly/3nsRRbG
- National Public Distress Helpline: http://bit.ly/3zdEMG6
- If you need to speak to a crisis counselor immediately, call or text 1-800-985-5990
- Office for Victims of Crime (@OJPOVC) : http://bit.ly/3FWtU2O
As we discuss the “why” behind these tragedies and how we can prevent them in the future, we must state the obvious: gun violence would not exist without guns. TN’s irresponsibly lax gun laws are merely choices: the majority of our lawmakers are actively choosing to accept, allow, and enable gun violence with every vote they take to strip our gun laws and all the fear-mongering they push to sell more guns. In fact, Tennessee has some of the weakest gun laws in the country, and we’re now in a place where guns are the leading cause of death among Tennessee children and teens.
Despite the choices politicians make, Tennesseans across race, place, and background know our children’s worth. Our voices matter. Together, we can call on our current elected officials to enact meaningful change and elect future leaders who truly understand the value of our children. Join the call for common sense gun reform and connect with groups already engaged in the work: https://forwardtn.org/gun-safety/
Advocating for more resources that center students’ mental and emotional wellbeing are also equally as important when we talk about student safety. How students feel in school carries into how they feel in the world. If they don’t feel supported in the place that’s supposed to lay the groundwork for their future, we are setting them up to fail. But we still need to remind many lawmakers in our General Assembly that everyone—regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression and identity—deserves to see themselves represented in libraries and school curricula and feel a sense of belonging and safety.
While extremist lawmakers will try to use the shooter’s transgender identity as fuel for their hateful agenda, we know that transgender and gender non-conforming people are far more likely to be victims of gun violence than perpetrators. TN’s anti-trans, anti-drag, and school censorship laws will only add to the cycle of trauma, simply due to some lawmakers’ unfounded fear of identities they don’t understand. Take action to stop these bills from harming more students: bit.ly/edtrustaction
Regardless of the laws passed in Nashville, we know teachers and faculty are doing the best they can in supporting and teaching kindness to students. Providing students with the proper support and resources in schools AND changing gun laws is the only way to prevent these tragedies for good.
And we echo our partners: Safety does not mean increasing police presence in Black, Brown, and low income communities. It means passing common sense gun laws that protect our children and families from mass shootings and all other types of gun violence. It means passing trauma-informed and inclusive policies that create community and school spaces where everyone–regardless of race, class, gender expression and identity, sexual orientation, and ability–feels a sense of belonging and care.
We will keep The New Covenant students, staff, and families in our hearts as we continue to call for meaningful change from our current and future elected officials, so that no child, family, or educator experiences school gun violence again.