Letter to the Editor: Facts, not feelings


Joshua Brown, Teacher

Mr. Tapp,

I appreciate your letter on the front page of Issue 7 of the Journal. School safety should always be a paramount issue and right now we are living in a time of heightened anxiety. The unnecessary and horrific deaths of those 17 precious lives in Parkland was a tragedy that should never be forgotten. I use to work in an alternative school where there were knives pulled on me and there were students in my class, involved in gangs under investigation for federal murder, legitimately threaten my life. When the fire alarm sounded on Wednesday, that moment was honestly the most fear I have ever felt in my teaching career. I slowly stepped into the hallway and just listened, wondering if I would hear any other sounds than the blaring alarm. No one should ever be criticized for feeling that way, especially in the wake of the previous day’s massacre. During this time though, I think we need to be cautious in our narrative.

No matter one’s political affiliation or beliefs, it is hard to argue with scientific facts and data. Sara Berghoff shared with me a report from Scientific American regarding guns in America. The report is heavily peer reviewed and provides extensive evidence and research-based facts. There is belief from gun owners that owning a gun and carrying or having one in their home makes them feel safer. If they carry a gun, they feel as if they may be able to stop a crime or defend themselves. The facts show a different story. According to these reports, the facts show that gun ownership actually leads to an increase in risk of death or harm by a firearm, and from 2007-2011, only 0.9 percent of gun owners actually involved in a crime used their guns in self-defense. Not 0.9 percent of all gun owners, but 0.9 percent of gun owners involved in a crime. While people may feel safer with guns, the facts tell a drastically different story.

If we are going to use scientific-based research data with gun safety and crime, we also need to use scientific-based researched data in regards to school safety. Currently, a student or teacher may not feel safe at school, or during a fire alarm, but one needs to evaluate the facts. According to USA today, from 1999 to 2013, 0.5 percent of all adolescent deaths have occurred as the result of a school shooting. In fact, an adolescent is 11 times more likely to die at a swimming pool than in a school shooting, but people aren’t avoiding pools. The facts show that schools are some of the safest places for adolescents in the country. Parkland also wasn’t the first time a school shooter used a fire alarm to cause chaos and target victims according to an article in The New York Times, but students didn’t feel afraid of a fire alarm until last week. Yes, that incident happened 20 years ago, but the facts are that cases such as this where a fire alarm is a cause for harm are anomalies. Several people in the past week have used the phrase “this is the world we now live in,” but data shows us what we are afraid of has happened before, it just doesn’t feel that way. We cannot use scientific-based facts in one arena, yet ignore it in another.

Moving forward, I’d like to urge caution with the narrative that is presented. I urge a narrative of hope, not one of fear. The survivors of this recent tragedy are showing incredible resolve and hope for a brighter tomorrow with their courageous and inspirational actions. Let’s follow that lead and present and pursue the same hope with facts instead of feelings born of fear.

“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.”- Stephen King

“Fall in love with the process, and the results will come.”- Eric Thomas


       Joshua Brown