School bus driver’s response to Alabama school bus shooting

In Midland City Alabama on January 29, 2013 a school bus driver was shot and killed and a 6 year old was kidnapped from the bus. This impacts me on many levels. First, I live within 45 miles of this horrible atrocity. Second, I have children that ride the school bus. Third, I am a school bus driver. Fourth, I know people that should NOT have a firearm and possess one anyway. Midland City has had 2 murders in the last 12 years, the most recent was yesterday. According to this little town of just over 2300 has a higher than national average in almost every crime category and has a median household income of 28,000 a year. I estimate that because this event took place in the rural south there will be very little media coverage of this event because of the heated gun debate on the table.

The fact that I have children makes this story extremely emotional. When your child is involved in an accident that is out of your control you find a way to make peace with it. When your child is hurt while trying a new skateboard stunt you bandage the wounds and encourage them to do it again. When emotions run deep because of the loss of the first love of their life you cry with them and help through until the next jerk comes along and breaks your daughters heart and you do it all over again. When your child is taken by an obviously insane man that someone deemed worthy to carry a firearm, well, that’s new kind of anger.

Yes, I drive the school bus. My wife is in school to become a midwife and I accumulated (albeit foolishly) student loan debt and this side job helps to supplement my income. Also, I now have health insurance for the first time in ten years. I love driving the bus. I have 76 kids for 2 hours a day that I try to impact in a positive way. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t feel the weight of their little lives in my hands as I cross a major intersection or search the dark streets at a stop searching for the 3 foot preschooler to come lunging out of the bushes before daylight.

This man was obviously mentally disturbed and should not have been allowed to have a toothbrush much less a deadly weapon. I live in Southwest GA and I do not own and will never own a firearm. I have witnessed far too many accidents to be able to justify owning one. I guarantee that every gun owner will have a change of heart when your seven year old finds your “locked” gun and shoots themselves in the face. I promise when your fourteen year old takes the rifle out shooting cans in the woods and his best friend accidentally shoots him in the heart you will feel differently about a gun in the house. The question: Is owning a gun worth the loss of innocent life? If I were to go by the national statistics of deaths caused by firearms it seems that the resounding answer from Americans is “YES”! This needs to change before we foolishly exterminate one another.  

Laddie DeRocco

Laddie DeRocco

Laddie DeRocco is the pastor of a baptist church in Georgia.