But that's not what it was at all. Not even close. One of the San Jose Museum of Art volunteers told us it was part of new exhibit. She pointed to the monitor along one of the walls that highlighted the shooting of guns into the gelatinous cuboids (also known as ballistic gelatin) to trap the splintered bullets in time and space. One of the points of this exhibit was that the cuboids represented human flesh and what happens to it when bullets rip through us and explode inside.
It was only a few days after the shooting tragedy in Parkland, Florida. The day before we went to the museum I had listened to the Morning Joe news program as I worked out. I listened to them talk about each of the 17 victims and highlight something special about each one. About the teachers who sacrificed themselves by wrapping their bodies around those of the scared children trying to save themselves from the shooter. The children who got out and ran for their lives.
Then I listened the mother of one of the victims imploring our president to do something to make our schools safer. That one brought tears to my eyes. If you haven't seen it, you should.
Even conservative media is calling for a change:
"It is time for conservatives to embrace our new reality: today’s violence-prone society makes ownership of high-powered rapid-fire guns too dangerous."
I'm writing this because my wife and I care about the safety of our children first and foremost. There have been 1,600 mass shootings in America since Sandy Hook five years ago (that's about 4 victims or more on the average per shooting). Unfortunately our elected officials have done little to nothing to help stem the violence. And our children are dying.
We're supposed to be better than this. Aren't we? This isn't the other person's problem. This isn't a partisan problem. It's an American problem -- from our communities to state and federal government. Yes, we can and should choose more violence-free shows and media to consume for ourselves and our children. Yes, we can and should also choose how raise and empower our children with awareness and violence prevention.
On the other hand, California may have some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country, but damn if you can't still own an assault rifle and a whole lotta ammunition. Even my father, a retired police detective who passed away in 2012, who owned many guns himself, never agreed with the growing proliferation of assault rifles in this country. He didn't like regulation much either, but knew that something had to give somewhere for the average citizen.
And unfortunately that give continues to be us and our children. Which is why on the way to the San Jose Museum of Art referenced above, the Mama (what I lovingly call my wife) and I discussed as discretely as we could our safety plans and whether or not our girls' school was prepared for such a tragedy, while the girls listened to a Wow in the World podcast in the backseat. Even though we live in a community that appears to be much less likely to have a shooting like Parkland, the fact remains that this killing can occur anywhere at anytime.
Thankfully our school has an emergency active shooter safety plan (and we hope yours does, too). We discussed it and what would happen if our girls were out on the playground and something like this happened. Would they remember their Kidpower basics about safety first and run away and hide from harms way if they could? Would they remember to get under and stay under their desks if trapped in their classroom? Our girls haven't brought up what happened to us, but we're sure the older kids are talking about it, and we need to talk with them about it.
Ballistic gelatin is much more forgiving than human flesh. I'd bet we have much more rigorous regulation around the production of it than we do regulating the proliferation of assault rifles and exploding ammunition, guns and ammo that most of us would never touch in our lives, even with 30-40+ percent gun ownership in America.
I don't want to take anyone's gun ownership away (and couldn't even if I wanted to), but I don't have a problem pressuring state and federal elected officials to make it a much more rigorous process for you to own one and to purchase ammunition; if you're a serious and safe hunter or sports shooter you'll jump through the friggin' hoops to shoot. But making it easier for people with mental illnesses to purchase a gun sure as hell didn't help us make our country safer. And arming our teachers and administrators is also not a solution to help prevent this unnecessary violence.
After the Mama and I talked about our safety plans and what we would need to discuss with our girls, I couldn't help by helplessly imagine our children running for their lives and us not being able to do anything about it.
The good news is that we actually can.