As deadly shootings increase, my wife and I question: is it safe to have kids?


(Emily Whinfrey Bourassa | Special to The Union)

The decision to have children is a major one.

As a young couple, my wife and I have had many conversations about our future kids.

Usually we talk about issues such as costs, how we would like to be more financially stable before trying for our first child or even if we feel mature enough to be responsible to take care of another human being.

These conversations are always framed as “when” we have kids.

Last Tuesday, in the wake of the horrendous tragedy that occurred in Texas that ultimately left 19 children and two adults dead, my wife and I had a sobering conversation for the first time.

For the first time we questioned, “should” we have kids?

On Tuesday, May 24 an 18-year-old gunman shot his 66-year-old grandmother before entering Robb Elementary School, ultimately killing children who were all between the ages of 9 and 11.

Before that there was another high-profile mass shooting in Buffalo, New York.

While no children were killed in that incident, 10 adults were killed while grocery shopping.

What you might not have heard, and what gun violence archive organizations reports is that between the May 14 Buffalo shooting and the May 24 Uvalde shooting, there were 15 other instances of mass shootings spread out throughout the country, resulting in 11 people dead.

Although it might seem hyperbolic or reactionary to some, the major increase in gun violence in addition to our national and community leaders’ failure to address and curb the unnecessary deaths have some young people questioning the idea of having kids.

Before getting married both my wife and I acknowledged that children were something we both eventually wanted.

But there are new fears and factors to consider now and we are not alone.

Oscar Escobar, 20, a nursing major at El Camino College said the event and others like them made him question his future family plans.

“It just kind of makes me scared in the future. To have kids and send them off to school,” Escobar said. “The fact that this guy was able to enter school grounds and do what he did.”

During 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut, 20 children were killed when a 20-year-old shooter entered Sandy Hook elementary school. It should have been the last time something like that was allowed to happen.

10 years later not much has changed.

My wife and I talked about Sandy Hook, we talked about the inevitability of it happening again.

We discussed the fact that a generation of us were raised to expect events like this to occur. The inaction and irresponsibility of our leaders to address this issue has trained many of us to view tragedies like this as an inevitability.

Deciding to have children is a very personal decision.

My wife and I have not definitively decided if we will no longer have kids, but the fact that we are even questioning our decision based on the fears of school gun violence is an indictment on how this country has failed in protecting both or citizens and their children.

To be a parent is to worry, but it should not be considered the norm to be worried about children being unsafe at the schools they attend.