President Donald Trump gets a lot of letters at the White House. I have little doubt that many of them are less than friendly missives. After all, Trump may well be the most polarizing president in American history.
However, recently he decided to respond to one letter from a seven-year-old girl who had been traumatized after a close friend was killed in a school shooting. “Please,” she pleaded, “keep kids safe from guns.”
It’s a sentiment I’m sure most of us can understand.
The little girl, Ava Olsen, was impressed. For a time, at least.
Initially, for the girl, nothing was more fascinating than Trump’s massive, jagged signature, scrawled in black marker at the bottom of the page.
“Is that real?” she asked her mom. It was.
“Schools are places where children learn and grow with their friends. Their halls should be free of fear,” the letter read. “It is my goal as President to make sure that children in America grow up in safe environments, giving them the best opportunity to realize their full potential. I will continue to focus on protecting Americans and improving the safety of our Nation.
“Mrs. Trump and I hold you close in our hearts,” it continued. “We hope you always remember that no matter what may happen, there are so many people in your life who love you, support you, and want to see you fulfill all your dreams.”
The note made her feel better, at least for a few days, before she started to think more about it.
“He didn’t say how he could keep kids safe,” Ava told her mom. So on Jan. 8, she sat down to write another letter.
Ava thanked him for the response and the promised prayers.
“I sometimes still think about that day in my head thinking it will happen again,” she wrote. “If you have the time, I have some ideas to help keep kids and schools safe. Sometimes people who live through a school shooting have better ideas.”
Ava told him what they were: Move schools to safer places, give children a place they can run to if something bad happens, build schools in circles and put the playgrounds in the middle.
I’m going to be honest; the seven-year-old girl has more practical suggestions for combatting school shootings than Shannon Watts and Michael Bloomberg, that’s for sure.
While her suggestions are expensive, they’re far better than sheltering in place and making it easier for shooters to find targets, and by placing playgrounds inside a courtyard surrounded by the school, people can’t just wander onto the premises and start shooting. About the only one that I can’t see potentially being workable is moving schools, but you have to be impressed with the kid’s thinking.
Further, none of them involve taking away rights from people who have done nothing wrong, either.
Ava is right, though. President Trump didn’t say how he could keep kids safe. It’s unfortunate, but the reason he didn’t is that he’s not sure how. No one is. Ava’s suggestions are great, but they’re not guaranteed to keep them safe by any means. They’re merely obstacles that a maniac would have to overcome.
President Trump–or more accurately, whoever from his staff wrote the note–probably also neglected to say how he would do such a thing for the simple reason of it being a complex issue, probably too complex to include in a brief note to a seven-year-old girl.
Still, it would be awesome for young Ava if she got another note from the president.