My Relationship With Mass Shootings Has Evolved With Each Tragedy, But It Has To End Soon

My Relationship With Mass Shootings Has Evolved With Each Tragedy, But It Has To End Soon

We need to end our generation’s toxic relationship with mass shootings.
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When it happened at Virginia Tech, we watched as the night sky was lit by the vigil candles. We saw mothers crying and young people, who I had thought to be so mature, devastated by the loss of their friends and classmates.

When it happened at Sandy Hook, we watched as the children filed out of the school and the young faces flashed across the screen - as if the two seconds could make up for the years they lost because someone ended their lives too soon.

When it happened in San Bernardino, we watched as the police chased the shooters. I remember thinking, “Who has a problem with Christmas parties?”

Then Orlando happened. I saw the headline and assumed it was about the singer that had been shot the week before in Orlando and ignored it. I was wrong. This scared me more than anything before, not because I thought someone was going to come after me, but because I had become so accustomed to this cycle - people dying, constituents calling for action from their legislatures, nothing happening, victims are forgotten, and then it repeats - that I had started to ignore it and I had overlooked the loss of 50 lives. 50 people taken, most not much older than I.

I was so used to hearing about this subject and so tired of the cycle that I hadn’t asked any questions and looked the other way.

Every time a shooting happens, I hear someone say, “Don’t worry that won’t happen here.”

Well, how much of “here” is left? I’m sure someone said that about a high school in Parkland and a nightclub in Orlando and probably an Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania, but it did happen there. It happened there and in so many other places that there are lists titled “Major Mass Shootings in the United States,” because there have been so many that we need to differentiate between those that took enough lives to be classified as “major” and “minor.”

I don’t want to know how many more lives are going to be lost at the hands of gun violence before someone decides to do something. I keep hearing this argument that as Americans we are granted the right to bear arms as part of the 2nd Amendment in the US Constitution, but in the Preamble to this same document, we all, whether we want it or not, are granted the right to life.

I am not trying to start an argument on gun control, but I am attempting to get people to think about what would happen if we start thinking about the greater good rather than the individual’s needs. The United States was founded with three major goals: to ensure domestic tranquility (have peace and calmness within the boundaries of the US), provide for the common welfare (protect US citizens), and promote the general welfare (attend to the well-being of our people.) We need to stop sitting back and letting things happen. We need to ignore our wants and support the needs of the common welfare. The need to stop seeing children die because they braved walking into school. We need to end our generation’s toxic relationship with mass shootings before there aren't any of us left to say something.
Cover Image Credit: March for Our Lives

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As A Victim Of Sexual Abuse, Painting '#MeToo' On A WWII Statue Is Taking The Movement TOO Far

There is a line you should never cross and that is it.

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The famous picture of the sailor kissing a woman was taken right on V-J Day, when Japan surrendered to the U.S. in World War II. For decades it was seen as a representation of how excited and relieved everyone was at the end of the war.

The picture touched the hearts of thousands as you could feel the overwhelming amounts of joy that came from the snap of the camera. While the woman in the picture died back in 2016 due to a struggle with pneumonia, the sailor just recently died on Feb. 17, 2019 at the age of 95.

Most people saw it as both a heartbreak and heartwarming that the couple that was once photographed were now together.

Other people saw differently.

There is a statue made of the picture that resides in Sarasota, Florida. Police found early Tuesday morning of Feb. 19, two days after the sailor's death, that someone had spray-painted #MeToo on the statue's leg in bright red.

As a woman, I strongly encourage those who have been sexually assaulted/abused in any way shape or form, to voice themselves in the best way they can. To have the opportunity to voice what they went through without being afraid. As a woman who has also been a victim of sexual assault and has been quiet for many years...

This act of vandalism makes me sick.

While the woman that was kissed by the sailor was purely kissed on impulse, she had stated in an interview with 'The New York Times' that, "It wasn't a romantic event. It was just an event of 'thank God the war is over.'"

People were celebrating and, as a sailor, that man was so over the moon about the war being over that he found the nearest woman to celebrate with.

While I don't condone that situation, I understand both the reason behind it as well as the meaning behind the photo. I understand that, while it wasn't an intended kiss, it was a way of showcasing relief. To stick #MeToo on a statue of a representation of freedom is not the right way to bring awareness of sexual abuse.

It gives those the wrong idea of why the #MeToo movement was started. It started as a way for victims of sexual abuse to share their stories. To share with the world that they are not alone.

It helped me realize I wasn't alone.

But the movement, soon after it started, became a fad that turned wrong. People were using it in the wrong context and started using it negatively instead of as an outlet for women and men to share their horrific experiences of sexual assault.

That statue has been up for years. To wait until the sailor passed away was not only rude but entirely disrespectful. The family of that sailor is currently in mourning. On top of it, it's taking away from the meaning behind the photo/statue. World War II was one of the darkest, scariest events in — not just our American history — but the world's as well.

Sexual abuse is a touchy matter, I encourage everyone to stand up for what's right. But to vandalize a statue of one of the most relieving days in America's history is an act that was unnecessary and doesn't get the point of #MeToo across in the way it should. If anything, it's giving people a reason not to listen. To protest and bring attention to something, you want to gather the right attention.

This was not gathering the right attention.

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My Hometown Just Experienced A Mass Shooting, If We Don't Do Something, Yours Could Be Next

You never think it will happen to you until it does.

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I was on my way out the door to work when I got a panicked call from my mother.

"Can you look at the news online?" she said quickly. "There is a mass shooting somewhere nearby."

My heart stopped. For me, Aurora, Illinois is home. I was born there, I grew up around the area and I attended high school there. My siblings go to school close by and my boyfriend works for a neighboring fire department.

How could my beloved hometown become the victim of the latest tragedy?

After calling my boyfriend, who was at the fire station getting ready to deploy ambulances to the scene, I discovered that it had taken place at a factory nearby. My anxiety hit an all-time high as I watched the updates on all of the local city Facebook pages and groups. Officers down. Gunman at large. Mass casualties.

Hours later, all of the facts came out. A former employee of Henry Pratt's Company, a local industrial warehouse, had recently been let go and decided to get revenge. He entered the warehouse with a gun and began to shoot at random, killing five people and wounding many others, including five police officers. He was killed by local SWAT forces.

I am the kind of person who is pro-gun and pro-gun rights because of the second amendment and all of the freedoms I believe we deserve. But that doesn't make what happened okay and it never will.

While this situation doesn't change my mind, it does change my view of the world.

Why would somebody decide that shooting former coworkers was the way to go? Why would anyone want to hurt others? These are the questions that flooded my mind in the hours after the mass shooting. I don't necessarily think we have a gun issue in America, but issues with mental health and valuing life.

We pass bills to kill unborn children. We repeal bills that take away healthcare from million. We devalue life in its most basic form and respect those around us to still have enough respect for each other's lives. We stigmatize those who need psychiatric care and expect things to still be alright.

This is not alright.

Our country, our system, our values, and morals, they are all broken and backward. We have let mass shootings become normal and violence becomes accepted. It needs to be stopped. There needs to be a change.

One of the people killed was an intern from a local college during his first day on the job. Being a college student applying to internships myself, this hit far too close to home. Nobody deserves to die, least of all in their place of work while trying to further their career.

Five people lost their lives due to someone's disrespect of them. Yes, a gun was the weapon, but a mind was the actor. I pray that someday, our country will return to valuing life and respecting others enough to help them instead of pushing them away. This is not the first mass shooting, but it can be the last. If, and only if, we make sure of it.

If you want to help the victim's families in any way, a GoFundMe page has been set up to help with funeral expenses

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