Paul Lopez: As a Father, I Am Heartbroken

Paul Lopez and his daughter, a DPS student.
Paul Lopez and his daughter, a DPS student. Courtesy of Paul Lopez
This morning I was supposed to do two things: first, drop my daughter off at school and give her an embarrassing dad kiss in front of her friends, and second, read to a bunch of cute, bright-eyed, uniformed kids at a local school, Escuela de Guadalupe.

Neither of those things happened. 

There’s nothing that bothers me more than seeing my own baby girl afraid. As her father, I’ve made it my mission to never introduce chaos into her world. I never thought that I’d see the day where every school in our city is closed because they are targets of violence from armed individuals.

After explaining what was going on and trying to remove the fear from my daughter's eyes, I suddenly went back to my childhood thoughts, remembering the faces of other children in the world and thinking about what it would be like to live in a country where school drills for armed war is a regular thing. I learned today that my daughter is responsible for quickly wedging chairs into doors during lockdowns at her school. My heart is broken.

It’s one thing to not want to go to school because you feel alone or know that you’re going to get beat up at lunchtime. It's quite another when a child fears going to school because they may not come home. The only other people I’ve met with the same fear were my friends being deployed to Iraq.

This is not what the founders of our Constitution intended for the 2nd Amendment or for a country that values life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Our schools should be safe places for children. They shouldn't have to have regular school drills or armed teachers and security.

By way of our homes, our streets and our ballot boxes, change is possible. Make it happen.

Paul Lopez represents District 3 on Denver City Council and is running for Clerk and Recorder.

Westword occasionally publishes essays and op-eds on Colorado issues. If you have one that you think would work well here, send it to [email protected]
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.