This past week, there was a school shooting at UNC Charlotte. One of my good friends from high school goes to that university. As soon as I heard about the shooting, I was instantly filled with fear. I needed to know if she was okay.
I texted her immediately and waited for a response. It did not take her long to respond but those few minutes were horrible — I just wanted to hear that she was okay. Luckily, she wasn't on campus at the time of the shooting and she is safe. I can't even imagine what she must be going through, as one of the victims was her friend.
I was lucky I got a response and that my good friend is safe, but I fear that one day I won't be so lucky.
Things need to change, or before long everyone is going to lose someone they know in these tragic events.
In 2018, the United States lost 528 people due to mass shootings alone (mass meaning four or more people). In addition to the deaths, there were 1473 people injured in mass shootings. This is just the United States in one year, mass shootings only. This does not include all gun violence, just mass shootings, meaning there are also so many others who lost their lives in other gun-related incidents.
If you count mass shootings where people were injured and there were no fatalities, along with the ones that had fatalities, we have had 426 mass shooting in 2018. Again, this is just in the United States alone. In 2019, January through April, 150 people lost their lives to the mass shootings, and an additional 416 people were injured.
In 2017, 590 people were killed and 1,972 people were injured in mass shootings. In 2013 to 2019 there were 3175 people killed in mass shootings and 10,262 people were injured. These numbers grow over the long term when survivors (and their parents and loved ones) take their own lives after experiencing these tragic events. These numbers are alarming and horrific and comparable to other significant events in the country that have had large death tolls, and yet we have not taken action in the same ways.
It was a fear of mine coming to college that I would become a statistic, having heard about the school shootings.
It feels that this fear is becoming more and more of a possibility. It has been too many people's reality. Now knowing someone who has faced this fear themselves, it is only more real to me. It's not just at school, too, although that seems to be the center of it. It is at concerts, the cinema, and other areas that are supposed to be places of growth or happiness.
Our university provides us with active shooter trainings, and constantly send us emails encouraging us to attend because everyone is aware that it is a stronger possibility than ever before. I know people who will only sit at the end of the rows in lecture halls in fear that they will need to escape a shooter, and if they're in the middle they won't be able to leave quickly enough to make it out alive.
Older people don't understand why high school and college students care so much about gun control. It is because, in our reality, we fear being slaughtered. Now it's not just the fear of walking in the night alone, it is being slaughtered in our classes that are supposed to be safe environments. It is a reality many older people have never faced so they do not understand it. They don't see the need for change unless something happens to someone they know. It is important that we start taking steps so this no longer has to be a reality. We need to take steps to make sure that mass shootings stop happening. It has been almost normalized now. We need to end it because you should feel something when you hear about how horrible they are instead of being numb to it because we hear about them all the time.