Undoubtedly, Arizona is a red state. They have a Republican in the Governor’s mansion, and two Republican Senators. The woman in the governor’s mansion is an infamous Obama loather — although she did recently go toe-to-toe with the Republicans in her state legislature over expanding Medicaid under Obamacare…and she was for it! Maybe that move alone should have been a tip-off to the rest of us that as red as Arizona is, there’s still hope for humanity in that hot, desert air out there.
I just came across a story about a school district and I had to check three times to make sure it was actually in Arizona and not just a consistent typo. Flowing Wells Unified in Arizona just sent a contact home with their parents that you just cannot believe came from within the same state that has made Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his armed posse of amateur school guards a household name.
The firearm contracts makes students sign paperwork that they will not bring a gun to school — which isn’t really all that noteworthy since we’ve been asking kids to keep their hand cannons at home for at least as long as I’ve been alive. No, the noteworthy element of this gun contract that was sent home is what it asks parents to do — lock their guns away and teach their kids about firearm safety. Like I said, I had to shake my head a few times to make sure I was reading what I thought was reading.
You know, there are as many opinions on gun regulations as there are on any number of issues Americans face. It’s hard to imagine a time when there won’t be those sharp divisions, but when you see school districts like Flowing Wells in Arizona making an effort like this, it’s clear that the culture is changing, at least in some small way. Sure, it’s common sense both that kids shouldn’t carry guns into schools and that parents should be locking their guns away and teaching their kids about gun safety, but we should be honest with ourselves — clearly those pieces of common sense just don’t exist in every household in America.
What I like most about the contract is that it doesn’t cast any aspersions on gun owners. Sure, the right-wing once they find out about this contract will pillory the school district. The NRA will raise a stink about it, and I’m sure it’ll end up in their fundraising/begging for money from scared and paranoid gun hoarders’ letters. I think those types of people are going to be in the minority on this one though. Arizona especially has a direct connection to devastating gun violence after the Gabby Giffords assassination attempt. I would venture a guess that next year more districts will follow Flowing Hills’ lead.
The truth is that as “just for show” as the contract might be important conversations that society has to have with one another often get started from outside the home. What better group to force families to confront gun safety than the group that sees your kids more during the day than you do? Who knows? Maybe a few families in Arizona will sign the contract and then they’ll realize, “Oh, my gun’s not locked up as safely as it could be.” If just one family signs that pledge and it forces them to take better safety precautions, then the contract is worth creating and sending out.
I don’t know. Maybe waking up in my son’s bed after he and I traded at 2:30 in the morning (leg cramps are a big deal to nearly-seven-year-olds) sloughed off a layer or twelve of cynicism from my soul. Maybe this contract isn’t more than a feel-good attempt to tackle an important issue facing our country, but I just can’t bring myself to think that way, not when this story takes place in as a red state as you can find. In fact, I’d be willing to guess that Flowing Wells isn’t the only school district in America taking similar steps; that’s how change in this country really comes about. Politicians can write the laws and pontificate all they want, but if it’s true change you’re looking for you have to start at the ground level, at home.
That is precisely what Flowing Wells Unified School District is doing.