St. Louis Joins the Long List of Cities That Have Had School Shootings. We Deserve Better.

We owe our children – the most vulnerable citizens in any society – a life free from violence and fear. ~Nelson Mandela

Yesterday afternoon a shooter opened fire on a classroom at a performing arts school in St. Louis.

The school doors were locked. There are metal detectors at every entrance. There are seven school security officers. The police responded within four minutes – faster than any drill they had conducted. And still.

A 61-year-old beloved teacher died.

A nearly 16-year-old student died.

The gunman, a 19-year-old former student, died.

It’s not the school’s security. It’s not police response, the police training, or lack thereof.

It’s the guns.

It’s always been the guns.

I know this school well. It’s on the way to the elementary where my son went to kindergarten and first grade. It’s down the street from the grocery store where he and I used to go after school to get a cookie, or grab something for dinner.

Yesterday that grocery store parking lot was used as a staging area. Frantic parents ran through the crowds looking for their kids. Hysterical students clung to one another. Reporters milled around to document the terror and interview the witnesses. In one interview, a stoic math teacher explained how he barricaded the door of his classroom and gave his kids rudimentary weapons … just in case.

He said they did things just like they had practiced them.

Just like they had practiced.

Two of the gunman’s victims died yesterday, but there are hundreds of victims – parents, teachers, students – who will live with the horror of yesterday for a long, long time.

What our elected officials are doing to generations of parents and children is unconscionable.

The reality of that came to me a few years ago. I vividly recall the day I picked up my then six-year-old son from kindergarten, just a few blocks from the St. Louis high school that is now a crime scene.

It was the last day before spring break, and there was that excited “day before vacation” buzz in the air. Colorful flower-filled “Spring Break!” banners hung right next to the white and blue winter crafts still dangling in the hallways.

It was light-hearted chaos.

But as I was stuffing my son’s belongings into a bag already crammed with crafts and papers and god knows what, I half-heard half-felt my son’s teacher, Mr. D., say:

“He did really well during the intruder drill today.”

I nearly dropped my son’s backpack.

“I’m sorry?” I coughed.

“We had an intruder drill.” He spoke more slowly this time, somber, and nodding like he knew it was a shock for me to hear. “And he did really well. I just wanted you to know.”

He shrugged and looked down.

I fumbled for words. Because what do you say?

“Oh, good.” And then “I’m sorry.”

It was all I could come up with.

He shrugged again.

And then my son proceeded to act out what babies do in an intruder drill.

He acted it out because he knew I would be proud that he had been so good and so quiet and had followed directions so very well. And so, with his biggest big boy smile, he crouched down right there, in the hallway, put his head down – and practiced being quiet like his life depended on it.

And then he looked up at me with a child’s expectant, hopeful eyes – those eyes that ask – did I do good, mom? Did I do it right?

And with tears in my eyes and a frog in my throat, I praised him. I told him how proud I was, and how proud his teachers were, and how proud he should be of himself for being so good and so quiet and for following directions.

And then I bit my lip to keep myself from crying in a hallway full of babies while his teachers averted their eyes.

And nodded.

It’s jarring to realize your child rehearses his murder.

I doubt I’m the only parent who was blown back to realize that – as a “safety precautionand “best practice” – her child regularly rehearses the moments before his death in the same classroom where he learns his ABCs.

See, it’s one thing to think about “intruder drills” as a concept. It’s completely different to have your six-year-old son act it out.

Our gun violence epidemic has always been a top issue for me. But it wasn’t until I saw my baby boy, with paint on his pants leg and chocolate on his cheek, cheerfully acting out what he would do in the moments before being shot with an assault rifle – because he knew I would be so proud – that the visceral reality of it really hit home.

We bristle when our kids come home from school with fantastical stories of shooting this or killing that – demanding to know who has filled our kid’s head with such violence and gore.

But we force them to imagine – and act out – what they would do if the boogeyman came to their classroom to kill them.

We force them to pretend they are about to die and imagine what they would do to stay alive.

You know, for practice. To be safe in case it happens.

Because it happens too often.

We have to prepare six-year-olds to be brave, because our leaders refuse to be.

Here in Missouri, our GOP-supermajority state legislature and Republican Governor have chosen someone’s delight in hearing a big “kaboom!” and feeling the kickback of an AR-15 over the mental health and stability of entire generation of children, parents, and teachers. They’ve prohibited local jurisdictions (like St. Louis) from passing any gun reforms locally. They even passed a law that prohibits local law enforcement from enforcing federal gun regulations.

Our state’s lax gun laws – which are a point of pride for the Missouri GOP – have made national news.

And now, so has a St. Louis performing arts school, where a dance class turned into a crime scene.

My god, we deserve better.

There’s a lot to fight for these days. There’s a lot to fight against. It feels like everything is on fire, because a lot of it is.

But every week we are reminded of the urgency of this particular issue. Because every day we’re confronted with another mass shooting.

Every day another kindergartener is told to go in the closet and be really really quiet.

Every day a high schooler writes a “just in case” letter like a marine on the front lines.

I have had enough.

Have you?


Let’s get to work.

Actions for the Week of October 25, 2022

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay, St. Louis

If you’re in St. Louis, know that it’s okay to not be okay, and – as she often reminds us – your Congresswoman loves you. Congresswoman Cori Bush’s office has shared some resources:

Behavioral Health Response provides crisis support, telephone counseling, and mental health resources 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Phone: 314-469-6644, 314-819-8802 (youth)

Behavioral Health text: BEHEARD to 31658

Mental Health Crisis and Suicide Prevention Hotline: 988 (If you are in St. Louis but have an out-of-area cell phone, call 314-469-6644)

Chat with BHR online and find more resources at

Join Moms Demand

If you haven’t already, please join Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. It’s an excellent and very practical organization that continues to have great success nationally. And, as bad as Missouri’s gun laws are – they’d be worse without the work that Moms Demand has done in Missouri. And St. Louis actually has a very active and excellent Moms Demand group. Join your local chapter, or start your own. Learn more here:

GOTV With Amy Schumer & Red Wine & Blue TONIGHT + How You Can Benefit State Abortion Funds By Contacting 10 Friends!

**NOTE: For every 10 friends you contact about voting using Red Wine & Blue’s website Rally in the swing states of Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, Red Wine & Blue will donate $50 to that state’s abortion fund. Or you can choose to keep the money and donate it to your favorite charity, up to $500.

From Red, Wine & Blue: Who better to kick our butts into high gear just weeks out from the election than Amy Schumer? Amy knows that women are a force and she’s not afraid to get loud about it. It’s time for us all to channel our inner Amys. Get ready for an interactive event where we will save reproductive rights and help women in need at the same time. For the best experience, sign onto Rally before the event by going to or texting RALLY to 59868 now.

This event – where they’ll walk you through how to use Rally – will be tonight, October 25, at 6pm eastern. Register here:

Can’t make it tonight? No problem – You can still Rally and earn a $50 donation for state abortion funds. Go here for more:

Join Gaslit Nation and Indivisible for a Give No Ground Phonebank on Oct. 28:

Oct 28, 2022 at 4pm eastern, 5pm central

Join Indivisible and the hosts of Gaslit Nation, Andrea Chalupa and Sarah Kendzior, as we come together to reach out to voters in Pennsylvania about the importance of supporting John Fetterman for Senate. Andrea and Sarah are experts in election hacking and they regularly do deep dives on current news and events that are happening around the globe. We’re pulling out all the stops to turn the election into a referendum on GOP extremism and to defend the majorities that we built.

Register here:

Help Cure Ballots with the DCCC H/T Jessica Craven of Chop Wood Carry Water

This is an amazing opportunity to literally save votes.

The Voter Protection and Cure Response Hotline for the 2022 election cycle will focus on helping voters to cure rejected ballots across the country.

Join DCCC staff and volunteers in this training (multiple dates and times provided) to prepare you to be a voter protection cure hotline volunteer. All volunteers will answer inbound hotline calls, make outbound hotline calls to voters, possibly inform voters that their ballot has been rejected and ultimately help voters cure their ballots in target districts!

This training is remote and will include live calls made to actual voters, whose ballots have been rejected. The DCCC will be asking for your feedback and critique so they can improve the volunteer training for future cadres.

Sign up here:

Voting has begun! How can you help?

I saw a post on social media over the past few days that was so practical that I wanted to share. A mom posted in her moms’ group that she would watch fellow moms’ cars outside the polling place while the moms went in to vote. Lots of moms took her up on it.

Friend, how easy is that?! Can you cobble together three or four friends who can provide this same kind of “service” for people in your parents’ group? Just standing by someone’s car so they don’t have to mess with carseats and impatient kiddos when they vote makes it so, so much easier for parents of young kiddos to vote.

You could go a step further and have a kids’ party at your house for any parents who need a place to drop their kids to go vote. Or if your polling place is by a park, you can turn it into a supervised outdoor playtime. There are plenty of options if you just think about it.

If you don’t have a parents’ group, what else could you be doing for your friends/neighbors to encourage voting? What about a neighborhood election block party where folks can sport their I VOTED stickers? Even just texting, calling, or going door-to-door and canvassing your own block to make sure folks know where to go and why voting is important will turn out voters. It’s all hands on deck team!


P.S.: Why don’t you make someone’s day and send this pep talk to a friend or two? I bet they need it.

If you’d like to sign up to get this pep talk and action list in your in-box each week, you can do that here. Welcome, friend!

P.P.S.: If you want to help support this work you can do so via Patreon at or via paypal at
My deepest gratitude in advance.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I read and respond to every email! We’re in this together. Don’t you forget it.

Have a thought? A small deed to suggest? Share it here!

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