Last weekend, El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio were affected by the loss of life due to gun violence.
31 people were killed and 53 injured between both cities, and the shootings took place only 13 hours apart. These people from all different walks of life are forever linked by a heart-breaking tragedy that took place inside a Walmart and outside of a bar. These shootings are marked as more evidence of a gun violence epidemic in America.
The response, or lack thereof, from our government has sent a very clear message. As a country, we have decided that these are acceptable losses. It seems as though we have for a long time.
My first memory of being fully faced with the consequences of a mass shooter emergency takes me back to when I was about 8 years old. The process of learning what to do if an active shooter was on the premises is stuck in the margins of my mind. Essentially, the way it was explained to us was that if a bad guy comes into the school with a gun, we needed a place to run and hide. Even though it was talked about as a distant and unlikely emergency, there were still a lot of things I thought about while we sat in the dark corner of a classroom.
What if I ended up at the back of the line, or wasn’t fast enough? Say we do make it to the classroom, what if he found us? Could he still get to us through the tiny window in the door, covered by black construction paper?
Through my youth and early adulthood, the underlying anxiety of losing my life to this kind of gun violence has stuck to me like a shadow. These most recent massacres have caused me to reflect on this even more. My main takeaway from these events, and the many others like it, is that this fear is not normal.
Worrying about what to do if someone starts shooting at you with an assault rifle is not normal.
This vicious cycle of there being mass shooting, thoughts and prayers, but no action is not normal.
People shouldn’t have to fear for their lives when they go shopping, or go to the movies, or go to school, or go to concerts, or go to church. So now one question remains.
What can we do?
For one, we can start by having stricter gun laws. Personally, I don’t see the need for anyone to have a gun, but if you want one, that’s your business. However, that doesn’t mean you should have one without a background check or license, and you definitely shouldn’t have one that can fire off a hundred rounds in less than a minute.
I know we live in a very divisive and partisan political culture, but we have to find some common ground. Each day that goes by without stricter gun legislation reinforces the idea that people’s guns are more important that the lives of others.
Unfortunately, I don’t think a single person can take down the pro-gun lobbyists–or their money– that have a monopoly on power over some of our legislators. Yet, there are other ways you can do your part.
Organizations like Moms Demand Action work to pass gun control legislation on the local and federal level to aid in keeping people safe from this devastating form of violence. They have chapters in every state you can join or simply send in a donation. You can also call your state representatives and tell them how much gun control means to you, and urge them to take action.
The point is we have to do something. Don’t let these victims, or the ones before them, or the ones before them (and so on), die in vain.