I'm sitting here typing this after finding out and I'm still having trouble processing the information from this event. On February 15, 2019, a gunman opened fire in his office in Aurora, IL and I'm still shocked something like this happened so close to home. I find my voice shake and my heartbreak. I don't really know how to express my real feelings because let's be honest, experiencing things second-handedly, what do you really know about how to act after a tragedy?

I can't shake this unsettling feeling. I can't imagine the fear of those involved, having the whole situation feel surreal, learning what happened even in the midst of the situation, and knowing that an event which always seems worlds away, hit so close to home.

I've joked around for years about how the town I live in is a bubble. When something bad happens, it's rare and the news travels fast. I've always felt safe and protected in my hometown because I knew that nothing truly bad happens there. I'm not even kidding when I say this either: we had a storm go around my hometown and nothing happened. But am I still sure that this town and the places I go back home are still super safe? Now? I'm not so sure… I'm not naive enough to believe that nothing bad ever happens, but what I'm saying is that nothing that's really bad feels as real until it happens close to home.

It's been hours and a day or two after this horrific event, but I'm still shocked, with words tumbling out of my mouth, unsure of how to feel or what to say. My heart is still breaking. Never did I think that an event like this would happen so close to home. I'm almost 300 miles away and I don't know what to do. I hate that events like this keep happening. I hate that, even as a Christian, my first reaction isn't to fight- it's prayer. It's waiting for a sign to do something, waiting for something to do. I want this world to change and as they say, "actions speak louder than words". But my question is why no one's actually changing anything?

Why isn't anything changing?

People in our society are afraid to live their lives because of tragic events like these. Shootings at concerts or high schools or even at universities and workplaces. My heart goes out to those who were affected by this event and past events similar to this, but sending good thoughts and prayers isn't enough. It's time we take action and do something. Our country has this problem and everyone seems to be ignoring it.

I'm upset and broken that events like this keep happening. They aren't stopped and it feels like no one is DOING anything! Our society is losing children and people and we're not doing anything. I have 4 words: This. Needs. To. Stop. According to gunviolencearchive.org, including this most recent one- there have been 39 mass shootings in 2019 alone. 39 and we're less than two months into 2019. This is ridiculous. But really, what am I, a student writing about a tragic event back home going to do? Besides sending good thoughts and prayers? I'm stepping up and taking action. It's time that this stops. It's time to end gun violence and save our people. It's time to fight gun violence and stand up.

This. Needs. To. Stop.

While I'm still writing, I want to send my thoughts and prayers to those affected by this tragedy, especially those who lost loved ones. I also want to thank the first responders involved and the support of the community which has come together.