There is a school in Southern California you have probably never heard of but more than likely have seen.
It’s in Van Nuys, one of the towns in the San Fernando Valley, that mythologized a dream of the California good life for so many transplanted easterners back in the post World War II era. Van Nuys was middleclass, it never snowed, and you could have a pool in your very own backyard. It was life the way it was supposed to be.
Van Nuys has two high schools. Van Nuys High looks like it could have been an 18th century European technical institute, all brick and high windows to let in more light. Ulysses S. Grant High School looks totally the opposite. It looks more Bauhaus, flat roofs, clean lines, a large quad centered within the buildings. In other words it’s very much the prototype for 1960s-1970s government style architecture, so much so that it would be hard to tell if it was located in Southern California or anywhere else in the US. That might be the reason it’s so often used as “the school” set in movies, TV, and commercials.
Really, it has it’s own IMDB page. Ironically it was the exterior set for two television depictions of high school that are pretty much the polar opposites of one another — SAVED BY THE BELL and FREAKS AND GEEKS.
It’s literally America’s High School.
Last Wednesday there was a shooting there.
Unless you are reading this in the Los Angeles area it probably didn’t make the news where you are. It sickens me that we have become so deadened to school shootings that this barely made a blip in the news cycle. Only one 16 year old kid was shot and he thankfully survived. It was a drive by shooting and as of this writing the shooter has not been caught. Upon hearing the shots the school went into a well practiced response, locking down everyone who was inside the gates, telling anyone outside the gates to take cover, and immediately setting up a student and family wellness hotline.
In my day the only unexpected disasters we practiced for were earthquakes and an occasional fire drill. But it’s not my day when it comes to high school anymore.
But it is my day to be able to demand something be done. Not tomorrow, not when tempers have cooled, right fucking now because children, CHILDREN, are being killed by weapons that do not belong in the hands of untrained idiots who think they have to have an AR-15 to feel more like a man.
I got news for ya fella. Having an semi-automatic weapon doesn’t make you a man, it makes you a coward. There’s a saying that the bigger the gun the smaller the…well let’s just say ego. And don’t give me that lame ass excuse about if the bad guys have them then the good guys need them too. All of these mass shootings, ALL OF THEM, were committed by so called “good guys” who legally purchased their weapons and were barely if ever questioned about why they wanted it.
The shooter in Ulvalde was 18 years old. What 18 year old needs an AR-15? What “bad guy” is coming after him, unless it’s the one he made up in his own fractured brain? The shooter in Buffalo was 18 years old, tell me Mr. Gun Shop Owner did you even look at this guy or were you only looking at the green paper in his hands? The Columbine shooters were 18 years old. They used a 21 year old surrogate to buy some of their weapons and went out onto the black market for the others. The shooter at Sandy Hook was 20 years old, still not legally able to buy automatic firearms but he didn’t need to because mommy had them already. She paid for that mistake with her life and the lives of 20 kids and 6 adults.
What can we do? Stop voting for the guys who take the NRA’s money and spout platitudes about the second amendment and the “right to keep and bear arms”. That phrase means you have a right to join a militia. More importantly, the second amendment does not contain the phrase used in the first amendment so liberally, “Congress shall make no law”. That means Congress can make such laws as a mandatory waiting period, a mandatory background check, mandatory training courses that must be passed in full and without mistakes, and a limitation on the kinds of weapons that can be sold.
Don’t vote for the NRA’s hired hands and even more importantly let them know WHY you are not voting for them. Let them know that as a law abiding “good guy” you have had it with their bearding for a group of gun makers whose only concern is how much money did they make. And let them know that you know that no common sense gun laws will keep an honest person from being able to buy a pistol or rifle to protect themselves or their loved ones.
There was a shooting at Ulysses S Grant High School last Wednesday, the school that in the movies and TV stands in for all the schools across this country. It could be your alma mater, or the school your kids or grandkids go to. As it happens it is my alma mater. While gun control has always been a major concern of mine, this just makes it more personal.
Let it be personal to you.
We’ll go out with a song from 1979 by an Irish Band about a school shooting in San Diego.